Monday, November 24, 2014

Wave Election or Bad News for GOP?

I read an interesting article by a GOP strategist who actually finds the results from the midterm elections less sanguine than most of his peers (Houston Chronicle). He recognizes that the election was largely won as a result of low voter turnout for everyone except old white voters and some successful voter suppression, that demographic trends continue to favor Democrats in the long run and that national Electoral College math is not great for the GOP. Here are his major claims (with some additional thoughts from me, intermingled):

1. What he calls the “Blue Wall,” or the slate of states that no Republican Presidential nominee can hope to win, has expanded to include New Hampshire and maybe Virginia. Without Virginia, that means a Democratic nominee can expect to win 257 electoral votes out of the 270 needed, and with Virginia, the full 270! (on the flip side, the “Red Map” only contains 149 sealed up electoral votes)

2. This means the GOP needs to win all nine “tossup” states and one solidly Blue state. He then argues that the presidential race will now largely reside in the GOP picking a candidate that can attract enough democratic voters – at a time when most have to tact far to the right to even get the nomination.

3. Republican Senate candidates lost every single race in a Blue Wall state and the next election cycle looks a lot more competitive for Dems. This election they had to defend 13 Senate seats in Red or Purple states, in the next election, Republicans will be defending 24 seats with at least 18 of them very competitive. Thus the Senate could turn back in two years!

4. The GOP “mandate” largely comes from the former Confederate South with half of the Republican Congressional Delegation coming from these states.

5. Every major Democratic ballot initiative was successful, maybe indicating that better framing and messaging could elicit more voter support in the future.

6. A rather surprising point for a Republican pundit to make: because voter turnout was so bad, the GOP won 52 percent of 35 percent of the vote, meaning their “mandate” is based on 17 percent of the registered electorate (and 13 percent of those eligible to vote).

He concludes with a strong statement that seems to sum up the party among those who actually want the GOP to be about rationality and ideas: “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.”

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