Democrats are looking forward to internecine battles such as this. They know that the more Republicans fight each other, the likelier they won’t reunite to fight them. Democrats are surely drooling over the rumored prospect of Trump creating his own Patriot Party that would position itself to the GOP’s right on rhetoric and policy. In our first-past-the-post election system, in which a candidate does not need a majority of the vote to win, Democrats know that a split center-right can only help them.
As such, how Cheney and others like her respond will be critical to the Republican Party’s prospects. It does not help to simply beat the challenges back if doing so heightens the chances of a split or of driving hard-right voters to sit out the general election. Cheney and the establishment need to win on terms that all but the most irreconcilable and extreme can find acceptable. That means stealing some of their thunder while isolating the toxic elements too many bring with them.