Friday, April 01, 2016

Bleak outlook

As a Republican voter, I've made no secret of my concerns with this election cycle. Not only is the golden opportunity to win the White House now in peril for the GOP, the U.S. Senate may yet be lost. Worse yet, the largest Republican majority in the House of Representatives since the Great Depression may slip from the GOP's seemingly iron clad grip. Yes, Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump has had that much of a negative impact on the electoral landscape.

And while 2016 may well be a lost year for Republicans electorally, Philip Klein paints an even more depressing picture for the party

For decades, the demographic reality has been staring Republicans in the face: As the presidential year electorate is becoming more and more diverse, minority voters are becoming increasingly out of reach for Republican nominees. (This reality has been camouflaged by the fact that the midterm electorate that has allowed Republicans to take over the House and Senate tends to be older and whiter.)

Republicans haven't proven that they can boost white turnout enough in presidential election years to win now; and a critical mass of their primary electorate doesn't want to rebuild the party to make it more welcoming to minority groups.

Consider a few data points. In the nine presidential elections between 1972 and 2004, Republican candidates won the six times that they were able to win white voters by double digits, and lost the three times that Democrats were able to keep the GOP advantage with the white vote to single digits.

But in 2008 and 2012, the pattern broke. President Obama was able to win overwhelming victories even though he lost the white vote by double digits both times. In fact, in 2012, Mitt Romney won white voters by 20 points – the same amount as Ronald Reagan did in 1980. Yet Reagan won 44 states, and Romney lost. The difference was that in 1980 whites comprised 88 percent of the electorate, and in 2012, whites accounted for just 72 percent of voters.

For Republicans, it's a vicious cycle. They lose non-white voters overwhelmingly, and then, because few minorities vote in their primaries, they end up producing candidates who have no realistic chance to appeal to those voters. The racial makeup of their primary voters still looks like the general electorate that voted for Reagan in 1980, even as the country has moved on.

The number don't lie. As such, they invalidate the utterly moronic (not to mention blatantly false) assertion that Trump will appeal to non-traditional Republican voters.

Still, there are those Trump apologists who say it's the "GOP establishment" who is to blame for the Trump revolution. I don't know if it's that simplistic, but I feel as though David Frum put forth an accurate summary.

What we on the right have yet to grasp is that more conservative policies were not going to be passed within 2-3 election cycles of President Barack Obama and a Democrat dominated Congress pushing through Obamacare. While I was thrilled with the advent of the Tea Party in 2009, I was concerned that many who first got into the political game would expect immediate sweeping reforms after the GOP groundswell in the 2010 midterm elections. And while Republican legislators elected to Congress over the past few election cycles have been more conservative, they apparently didn't act fast enough for the insurgents. This is one area where the left has killed us, in that they were willing to play the long game and thus kept hammering on issues like healthcare reform, gay marriage, climate change legislation, etc. They didn't become weary in the face of electoral setbacks.

While the diversity and quality of 2016 presidential candidates on the GOP side was arguably its best ever, there's no question that we have to make our message more appealing to a more diverse set of voters. The best time to have started such an outreach would have been out 20 years ago. The second best time? Right now!!!


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