The Republican National Committee is once again dismissing criticism from Republican insiders that Chairman Michael Steele's election-year operation has left the party in a far less advantageous state than it otherwise would have been in this midterm cycle.
On Thursday, the National Journal released a poll of anonymous insiders measuring the state of happiness that officials have about their party apparatus. The results were decidedly terrible for Steele.
When comparing the RNC to the Democratic National Committee, the 93 GOP Insiders who responded to the poll this week were withering in their assessment and 73% said that the DNC was out-performing the RNC. Only 15% said that the RNC was besting the DNC and 12% said neither committee had stood out.
In their comments, the GOP Insiders blamed the RNC's woes on chairman Steele who has wandered off message with verbal miscues and alienated GOP major donors. "Steele has been a huge disappointment, especially on the fundraising front," said one GOP Insider. Others used words like "embarrassment," "horrible" and "idiot" to describe Steele. "[DNC chairman] Tim Kaine is always on message, Michael Steele rotates which foot is in mouth," said another GOP Insider.
Asked for comment, RNC communications director Doug Heye kept it brief, choosing to pass on a chance to blast the anonymity that Steele's critics took when expressing their displeasure.
"We remain focused on Nov. 2," said Heye. "We're proud of the job we've done -- the 21 million voters our volunteers have contacted so far put us well ahead of where we were at this point in 2008. But there's much more to be done between now and election day."
There are, it seems, shades here of a similar dynamic that was happening on the Democratic side of the aisle back in 2006. Then, it was DNC Chairman Howard Dean who was rankling the party establishment and suffering the ignominy of being trashed by anonymous insiders. That friction, however, mostly surrounded Dean's insistence on sticking to a 50-state strategy for party expenditures even as others (see: Emanuel, Rahm) pushed for resources to be diverted to specific races. Steele's problems have to do with a lack of resources altogether, in addition to a series of embarrassing public relations gaffes.
The Republican Party will gain seats in 2010. But Steele seems poised to take on even more heaps of criticism than Dean did for his failure to do more.