We are constantly subjected to the antiquated bromide from establishment figures in the party that “we need to elect moderates in order to win a majority in Congress.” “We can’t elect members like Jim DeMint everywhere,” they say.
This line of thought fails to address the reality on the ground in Congress. While one can debate the veracity of such an assumption regarding swing or Democrat-leaning districts, there is certainly no debate about conservative districts. Jim DeMint represents South Carolina at large, which is rated R+8 on the Cook PVI scale. Well, there are 136 House districts rated R+8 or above. Putting aside the debate in swing districts, where are our 136 Jim DeMints from the conservative districts in the House?
Sadly, they don’t exist.
As we’ve illustrated from our conservative performance index, only 21 members from those districts scored an A grade (90% or above). Only 52, or just 38% of these members scored above an 80! These are our conservative districts?
Overall, we found that only 4 out of the 21 districts rated R+20 or above meet expectations (score 90); only 11 of the 56 R+15+ Republicans met expectations; only 14 out of the 83 R+13+ met expectations; only 19 of the 109 R+10 Republicans did.
So what is the excuse for not electing conservatives from conservative districts?
The lesson is clear: we must not be complacent during primaries, when presented with the opportunity to elect principled conservatives.