Assessing whether a candidate has good political instincts is a matter of judgment about which reasonable people will disagree.

Rove has had a good record of doing this over the years. He really was the Republican establishment in 2002 when he picked winning candidates in key races.

Of course, it helped that he had the backing of a Republican president with 60 percent-plus job approval.

There’s no Republican establishment like that today. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is by definition an insider.

He also seems to have good political instincts — good enough that in Wisconsin he backed a newcomer like Ron Johnson in 2010.

So I don’t see this as a fight between the grass roots and the Washington establishment. It’s a struggle to find candidates with serious convictions and good political instincts — which is usually an uphill struggle for Republicans.