First, the wedge danger: Congressional Republicans have made it quite clear they intend to at least restart the conversation on immigration, which already has many conservatives groaning loader than a bathroom attendee in a Taco Bell. In an election cycle, where you need every bit of your base to turn out to maximize your gains, this is, frankly, puzzling. If the conversation fizzles out, many on the right will cautiously re-focus on the fight against Obamacare. If it drags on through the spring and summer, and bears legislative fruit, we could see a schism forming just months before Election Day, and one very unlikely to heal itself in time to deliver a potentially historic win.
One race in particular to watch for conservative push back would be Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s fight for re-election in Kentucky. Despite his poor approval rating, a review of exit poll data and the Gallup state surveys has moved the seat from lean to moderate-Republican: the state’s voters have become more Republican over the last half-decade, and there is no sign of that trend slowing down. That is comforting for the Senator, provided he makes it out of the primary. His opponent, Matt Bevin, has seen his funds and poll standing rise in the last few months. If enough conservatives decide to “make an example” out of a perceived establishment candidate over the aforementioned wedge issue, McConnell would (obviously) be their biggest target.