Herding ninjas 

This is important: the Senate next year will be more Republican, but the Republican conference might be much more conservative. The Club For Growth makes this point:

Consider: if Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, Mike Lee, Joe Miller, and Rand Paul all win on November, they will account for all of one “pickup.”  But even that one — Toomey — is replacing a guy who was elected as a Republican six years ago.

And yet, from the perspective of the Club for Growth’s agenda — or any conservative point of view — four of the five are huge upgrades, probably better than the swapping out of a moderate Republican for a moderate Democrat.  The fifth, Paul, will probably out-perform outgoing Sen. Jim Bunning, though Bunning is a reliable conservative in his own right.

Regardless of whether the GOP retakes control of the Senate, the real news on Nov. 2 will be that the Senate Republican Conference will be much more principled, much more economically conservative, and much less interested in the beltway establishment playbook.

Senate leadership famously refers to its difficult job as “herding cats.”  But with Rubio, Toomey, Lee, Miller, Paul and the rest of Generation Club joining Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn, it’s going to be more like herding ninjas.

A related point: in six Senate seats currently held by Republicans, the Republican nominee for 2010 is more conservative than the current GOP Senator:

KY: Rand Paul for Jim Bunning
OH: Rob Portman for George Voinovich
AK: Joe Miller for Lisa Murkowski
UT: Mike Lee for Bob Bennett
FL: Marco Rubio for George LeMieux
NH: Kelly Ayotte or Ovide Lamontagne for Judd Gregg

So, yeah, things could get fun.

[Add: Yes, I know NH isn't a done deal. And I could also probably add Roy Blunt for Kit Bond in Missouri.]

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Timothy P. Carney

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