A GOP strategist, columnist at the Houston Chronicle who goes by the handle GOPLifer, Chris Ladd, has declared that the week of the Midterm Elections “was a dark week for Republicans, and for everyone who wants to see America remain the world’s most vibrant, most powerful nation.” What the HELL! Where was he?
In a careful analysis, Ladd builds a case: The Midterms of 2014 demonstrate the continuation of a 20 year old trend. Republicans are disappearing from the competitive landscape at the national level where the population is the largest utilizing a declining electoral base of waging, white, and rural voters. As a result no GOP candidate on the horizon has a chance at the White House in 2016 and the chance of holding the Senate beyond 2016 is vanishingly small.
The author points to the Blue Wall.
The Blue Wall is a block of states that no Republican Presidential candidate can realistically hope to win. On Election Day that block added New Hampshire to its number and Virginia is shifting At the outset of any Presidential campaign, a minimally effective Democratic candidate can expect to win 257 electoral votes out of the 270 needed to win. If Virginia joins New Hampshire that number will be 270 out of 270.To win a GOP candidate has to win all nine “tossup” state and one solidly Blue state.
Thus, in the next, and into the foreseeable future, Presidential elections will be decided in the Democratic Primary. What are the chances that a Republican candidate capable of appealing to the increasingly right wing GOP will appeal to enough Democrats to win in tossup and Blue states?
But what about that RED Map….well it accounts for 149 electoral votes. The biggest Republican victory in decades did not move the map. What was Red before in electoral politics is still Red (and maybe less Red considering NH and VA).
Republican support grew deeper in 2014, not broader.
Some other observations
a) Republican Senate candidates lost every single race in the Blue Wall.b) There were some GOP victories in Governor’s races, but in each case there were no coat tails. None of these candidates ran on social issues, Obama, or opposition to the ACA. Look at Rauner who took out Quinn in Illinois, but Democrats in Illinois retained their supermajority in the State Assembly having not lost a single seat.
c) Voter turnout was awful. It was more awful for the Democrats but the GOP won 52 percent of 35 percent of the vote: in other words their mandate is 17 percent of the registered electorate (and 13 percent of those eligible to vote).
d) Good news for the Democrats: They have consolidated their power behind the sections of the country that generate the overwhelming bulk of America’s wealth outside the energy industry.
e) Voter suppression is working remarkably well, but that won’t last. They key is voter ID. Eventually Democrats will top whining and will help people get the documentation they need to meet confusing new requirements and obstructions. The whole “voter integrity” sham may have given Republicans a one or maybe two-election boost in low-turnout races, but the message to minority (but growing) groups is clear. We GOP don’t give a damn about you.
f) Every major Democratic ballot initiative was successful, including every minimum wage increase, even in the red states. AND every personhood amendment failed.
g) Half of the Republican Congressional delegation now comes from the former Confederacy. There are no more white Democrats from the South. All of the Dixiecrats are now GOP.
h) Democrats in 2014 were up against a particularly tough climate because they had to defend 13 Senate seats in red or purple states. In 2016 Republicans will be defending 24 Senate seats with at least 18 of them very competitive based on geography and demographics. Democrats will be one seat looks competitive.
i) McConnell’s conciliatory statements were encouraging, but he cannot persuade Republican Senators and Congressmen to cooperate on anything constructive.
j) This is an age built for Republican solutions. The global economy is undergoing a massive, accelerating transformation that promises massive new wealth and staggering challenges. Ladd say that the GOP could address a this with heads-up, intelligent adaptations to capitalize on those challenges. Republicans, with their traditional leadership on commercial issues, he claims, should be at the leading edge of planning to capitalize on this emerging environment.
k) Instead, he predicts, what the GOP will spend its time on is: Climate denial, theocracy, thinly veiled racism, paranoia, and Benghazi hearings.
He closes his essay saying: “It is almost too late for Republicans to participate in shaping the next wave of our economic and political transformation. The opportunities we inherited coming out of the Reagan Era are blinking out of existence one by one while we chase so-called “issues” so stupid, so blindingly disconnected from our emerging needs that our grandchildren will look back on our performance in much the same way that we see the failures of the generation that fought desegregation. Something, some force, some gathering of sane, rational, authentically concerned human beings generally at peace with reality must emerge in the next four to six years from the right, or our opportunity will be lost for a long generation. Needless to say, Greg Abbott and Jodi Ernst are not that force. ‘Winning’ this election did not help that force emerge.”