Republicans did badly in 2018, 2020, 2022 and now 2023. Where does the buck stop? Quite a few Republicans think it stops at 310 First St. SE, D.C., the headquarters of the RNC, and they want chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel's head on a pike. However, party insiders think that a big battle over the RNC leadership in the middle of a presidential campaign would be so disruptive and damaging that she is safe at least until next November, as much as some people blame her for all the losses. Republican National committeeman Oscar Brock of Tennessee said: "I think it would make some people happy—maybe a lot of people happy—but I think in the end it would probably be detrimental to the party to try to have her removed by vote." It would take two-thirds of the 168 members to remove her and it is not clear if there are 112 members who want to dump her right now. Also, there is no obvious successor, and picking one willy-nilly in the midst of an ongoing election cycle might not be the best thing for the party.
Part of the problem—a big part, actually—is that it isn't McDaniel's fault that Republicans have done so badly. And to the extent it is her fault, it is because she doesn't listen to Uncle Mitt and does whatever Donald Trump wants, including supporting loony candidates Trump likes. Worrying about "candidate quality" isn't her thing. That's what Turtles are for.
McDaniel is the longest serving RNC chair in a century. Her main job is raising money, which she does reasonably well. She doesn't really get to pick candidates and certainly doesn't get to tell them what to say or how to campaign. When Trump foists poor candidates on the party and they campaign on unpopular issues (like banning abortion), there is really nothing she can do about it, even if she sees the trainwreck coming. It is hard to see how a different RNC chair would have produced better results in any of the elections, but after four bad elections, a scapegoat is needed, and for some unhappy Republicans, a high-profile woman seems like a good place to start.
The leader of the opposition to McDaniel is Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, an ultraconservative group. He tried to unseat her in January, but she was elected to a fourth term. After the losses in Ohio, Virginia, and Kentucky, his frustration with her is palpable. But how could she have made abortion go away as an issue in Ohio and Virginia, and how could she have made the unpopular Daniel Cameron beat the very popular Gov. Andy Beshear (D-KY)? Those things are simply outside the box for the RNC, no matter who is running it. More money wouldn't have made a whit of difference. Every statewide official in Ohio was loudly opposing Issue 1 in Ohio and the wunderkind Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) was out there every day campaigning for members of the General Assembly and he lost.
McDaniel does have her supporters though. The chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, Jeff Kaufman, said: "Without her support, Iowa and the Iowa Caucus would not be first in the nation. She has my full confidence as we head into the thick of caucus season." She's probably going to be able to finish this term, but it will probably be her last one. (V)