What’s next for Republicans?

There's no doubt that President Barack Obama and the Democrats were the winners in this month's government shutdown. The Republican Party is in dangerous territory, despite the united face they are putting on in the public. While GOP lawmakers are standing behind Speaker John Boehner and the rest of the House leadership, there is little doubt that the money behind the operation – the rich establishment – is terrified about what is to come.

While the election is more than a year away, the fact remains that the GOP may have cost itself the House. Elections are local, and state-based Republicans have done a marvelous, if not reprehensible, job of gerrymandering their districts to make them less competitive for liberal candidates. On the other hand, there is a big risk that more Republican moderates will be targeted by Tea Party activists, pushing the GOP caucus in the House even farther to the right. The competitive districts that the Republicans now hold are, at the very least, much more in play than they were three weeks ago.

Of course, it's difficult to speculate as to the political future of the Party of Lincoln. Considering their long and storied history, the Republicans could – and should – survive these tribulations. But given the fact that the GOP got essentially nothing out of the so-called shutdown negotiations, it's possible that the same song and dance will be performed early next year when the continuing resolution expires. 

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