Republicans are admitting that if Ted Cruz or Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination, they will destroy the GOP for a generation.
One growing worry about Trump or Cruz, top party officials, donors, and operatives across the country say, is that nominating either man would imperil lawmakers in down-ballot races, especially those residing in moderate states and districts.
“At some point, we have to deal with the fact that there are at least two candidates who could utterly destroy the Republican bench for a generation if they became the nominee,” said Josh Holmes, a former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “We’d be hard-pressed to elect a Republican dogcatcher north of the Mason-Dixon or west of the Mississippi.”
“Trump and Cruz are worrisome to most Republican candidates for governor, senator and Congress,” said Curt Anderson, a longtime GOP strategist and former Republican National Committee political director. “Some will say they are not worried, but they are.”
What Republicans are suggesting is that a Trump or Cruz victory in the Republican primary would wipe out down ballot GOP candidates and incumbents. A Trump or Cruz nomination would be so bad for Republicans that there would be nothing left of their party outside of their red state strongholds.
It could be argued with a great deal of merit that this process began long before the 2016 and that the Republican Party has been shrinking itself down both numerically and geographically for more than a decade. The 2016 election has changed from a contest to between Democrats and Republicans to occupy the White House to a question of whether or not extremist Republicans are going to burn their party to the ground.
Republicans are openly worried about Donald Trump and Ted Cruz destroying their party. At a time when they should be concerned about potentially facing Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in the fall, GOP leaders are instead trying to prevent their party from total collapse.
It doesn’t really matter who emerges from the Republican free for all as their nominee. The Republican Party is consumed by internal conflict and a complete lack of unity that they will be the underdog in the 2016 general election. The question isn’t can Republicans win back the White House. Instead, Republicans are wondering whether or not they will have a party left after Trump and Cruz get done with them.