It's been a year since Republicans were dealt crushing blows in the 2012 election — losing the presidency, failing to gain control of the Senate, and losing House seats.
On Tuesday, three of the country's biggest elections will serve as important bellwethers for the party, each for their own reasons.
In New Jersey, there is a candidate in Gov. Chris Christie on his way to an improbable landslide victory in a blue state, and he is urging Republicans to follow his lead nationally.
In Virginia, gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli represents the conservative wing of the party who has not been able to sway voters in his state.
And in Alabama, the two factions of the Republican Party are duking it out in a heated primary that serves as the first test of the GOP establishment's proclamation to root out "anti-business" members of Congress after the shutdown and fight over raising the debt ceiling.
New Jersey and Virginia
Over the past few days, Christie has traversed around the state, making his pitch for the future as well as the present.
"America's watching, everybody. America's watching," Christie said Saturday at a campaign stop in Keansburg, N.J.
"A dispirited and angry and cynical America who, after they watched the shenanigans in Washington, D.C., cannot believe — cannot believe — that the government can work anywhere. Well on Tuesday night, we're going to show them that it works in New Jersey."
"They're going to know that I'll work with anyone — of any party — if they want to make things better for the citizens of our state. That doesn't happen in Washington. It happens in Trenton. And on Tuesday night, we're going to show what bipartisan leadership is all about by coming through with a big victory that will tell America, 'There is hope that government can work right for you all across America.'"
Brett LoGiurato/Business Insider
Christie is on track to shatter conventional wisdom in his victory over Democratic challenger Barbara Buono. According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, he leads by 37 points among men, 21 points among women, and grabs 30% of registered Democrats.
In a separate Monmouth University survey released Monday, Christie is on track to earn about 20% of the black vote. He also trails Buono by only 6 points among Latino voters. And with independents, Christie has a 35-point lead.
"With his appeal to independent voters, and even Democrats, Christie-for-President 2016 begins a few minutes after 8 o'clock tomorrow night," said Maurice Carroll, the Quinnipiac polling director.
The polls in the Virginia governor's race, however, harken back to the same themes of last year's presidential election. There is a huge gender gap — while Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe are statistically even among men, Cuccinelli trails by 14 points among women. Cuccinelli leads by 15 points among white voters, while McAuliffe leads by a whopping 84-3 margin with black voters.
Cuccinelli's politics have exposed him to attacks, and everyone up to President Barack Obama has tied him to the "extreme" faction that helped force a government shutdown and trigger a debate over raising the nation's debt ceiling last month.
"Lately, instead of rolling up their sleeves and working on the things that we can agree on together, you've seen an extreme faction of the Republican Party that has shown again and again and again that they're willing to hijack the entire party — and the country and the economy — and grind progress to an absolute halt if they don’t get 100 percent of what they want," Obama said Sunday at a campaign event for McAuliffe.
Facebook/Dean Young for Alabama
Where the two competing factions of the Republican Party will meet on Tuesday is in the primary runoff election in Alabama's first congressional district.
The race pits Bradley Byrne, a former head of the state's community college system, against Tea Party favorite Dean Young. Byrne has out-raised Young by more than $400,000, according to the latest Federal Election Commission filings.
Byrne also has outside help, in the form of groups as high up as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce who have become fed up over the Tea Party's methods.
"The Chamber has engaged in primaries in the past and we’ve said we plan to be involved next year," Blair Holmes, the Chamber's executive director of media relations, told Business Insider in an email. "Our support will be predicated on where the candidates stand on a broad range of issues that are important to the business community.
" We do see an increasing need to stand up early for candidates that understand the principles of free enterprise and are willing to address the biggest issues impacting our economy, like jobs and growth."
The GOP establishment is also worried that Young's potential election — a poll released Monday showed him with a 3-point lead — would provide Democrats with another fundraising tool, despite the general lack of plausible voting differences between the two candidates in the House of Representatives.
In the race, Young has fired up the district's conservative base in an off-year election by, among other things, calling for Obama's impeachment and saying he doesn't support John Boehner as Speaker of the House.
But he has also proven controversial, and he has the potential to be another loud voice in the House that Republicans might rather do without.
The Daily Caller's Alex Pappas detailed a long history of Young's comments on gays. In an interview with The Guardian, Young also said he believes Obama was born in Kenya, and revealed he doesn't know who occupies the positions of Treasury Secretary (he asked if it was Hank Paulson or Timothy Geithner, the two previous Treasury Secretaries) or House Majority Whip (he thought it was House Majority Leader Eric Cantor).
We'll be covering all of the elections tomorrow where we'll learn the fate of the New Jersey moderate, the Virginia conservative, and the result of the inter-party battle in Alabama.
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