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Needless to say, it's been a bit of a rough summer at the ballot box for mainstream Republicans. Long shots like Rand Paul and Sharron Angle have seized momentum, while bold-faced names like Robert Bennett and Charlie Crist have failed ideological purity tests. But could Tuesday's GOP primaries in Michigan, Missouri, and Kansas mark the start of an establishment comeback? Here's are some reasons why it's not so far-fetched:

  • Weak Opposition  In the Kansas City Star, political reporters Steve Kraske, David Goldstein, and Dave Helling write that while voters in Kansas and Missouri are angry, "outsiders have been relatively unorganized and underfunded, and mainstream politicians have been able to pre-empt the anti-Washington message." As a result, establishment candidates like Congressman Roy Blunt--the favorite to win the Senate primary in Missouri--have snagged plum endorsements from the likes of Michele Bachmann virtually by default. "Pre-empting tea party rage," at least in Missouri and Kansas, "is now a mainstream tactic."

  • Pocketbook Concerns  Chris Stirewalt of FoxNews says that as the economy continues to lag, moderate candidates like Michigan gubernatorial Tom Snyder have risen to the top of the heap. Snyder's ad campaign has been one of the most effective of this primary season, argues Stirewalt, steering clear of ideological issues in favor of "touting [Snyder's] experience creating jobs as CEO of Gateway computers and elsewhere in his career."

  • Diminished Element of Surprise Washington Times blogger John Creighton argues that the "nationalization of politics" enables establishment Republicans to impact primaries in Missouri and Kansas that they would have once ignored. Now, no race can happen without drawing the attention of party leaders. "Electronic communications," Creighton writes, "makes it possible for national organizations to promulgate issue research and talking points to politicians at all levels of government — from city council on up."

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