Republican fundraisers and strategists alarmed at the course of the 2012 presidential campaign are increasingly focusing their attention on congressional races, as the party’s chances of unseating President Barack Obama appear to grow more remote.
Thanks to a long, damaging nomination fight and shifts in the Senate landscape, top Republican donors are becoming more concerned about their ability to hold seats in the House and recapture the majority in the upper chamber.
Gone is the triumphalist thinking of a year ago, which imagined the GOP extending its 2010 wave and easily installing a Republican president. Even among Republicans who believe that remains possible, few think it is likely — or easy to achieve. Conservative commentator George Will gave voice to these concerns in his Sunday column when he urged his party to retrench and shore up congressional candidates.
Leading Republicans are now pondering how best to head off a successful Obama reelection campaign that keeps the Senate in Democratic hands and allows the president’s party to gain ground in the House.
“There’s little doubt that there is increasing focus on the House and Senate, given the fact that if you look back a year ago, I think most Republicans and most business people said, ‘We’re going to beat Obama because he’s going to beat himself and we just need a decent candidate,’” said Tom Bell, a top Republican donor and former Chamber of Commerce chairman.