“What matters to me is what we can do in the next 12 months,” said Austin Barbour, a prominent Mississippi-based GOP strategist. “If we don’t get stuff done legislatively in the next 12 months or even 14 or 15 months, we will be in for a rough ride as a party, as a country. That’s what ultimately matters…I’m glad Karen Handel won tonight, but that’s the big picture.”
Republicans, who control both chambers on Capitol Hill, are under pressure from their base to land some big-ticket accomplishments, like repealing and replacing Obamacare and tax reform, that have so far proved challenging. Another senior Republican strategist involved in the midterm elections warned that even though Democrats have yet to notch any special election victories, the 2018 climate, following historical trends, still looks to be tough for the GOP. And though they didn’t pull it off in Georgia, the Democratic base is clearly fired up, Republicans acknowledge.
“We will face a more difficult environment than Republicans have faced in over a decade,” this strategist said. “Anybody who doesn’t prepare accordingly will lose their race. Look how much money was spent on this one. Republicans aren’t going to have this much money to spend on every race.”