GOP 2014: You Can’t Take It Back
Why can’t the media see that the GOP is headed for disaster? I think it is important to note that the blowback on the failed background check vote has begun. Forget for a moment the rumor that senior GOP senators screamed bloody murder at Ted Cruz (R–TX). We are way beyond rumors now.
Max Baucus (D–MT), done. Mark Sandford, down nine points in a district he represented before he went hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Kelly Ayotte’s (R–NH) popularity in gun happy New Hampshire plummets fifteen points. Public Policy Polling, one of the best polls in my opinion — they were consistently more accurate than others during the presidential election — has a breakdown of exactly how hard the gun legislation fight has hurt the GOP.
These are real-time, real-world consequences for completely misjudging what the American people want. These are also the first signs of a return to sanity in the electorate.
The GOP has misjudged what is happening in America. That misjudgment has always been fraught with consequences. Those consequences are starting to manifest.
Take, for example, the oft misunderstood and misrepresented 2010 elections. They weren’t what the GOP, and hence the mainstream media (can you hear me, Chuck Todd), thought they were. It wasn’t a referendum on President Obama or Obamacare. Rather, it was a combination of low turnout by the Dems — and a GOP-driven fearmongering about socialism, secret Muslims, and birtherism, all as code for the race of the president.
This created a space for a motivated minority — that is the GOP/Tea Party — to steal some statewide elections, and to win some local races, giving them control of legislatures. It also allowed them to tsunami the House cut into the senate.
The GOP won, generally, in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. They picked up governor’s mansions and state legislatures, they won congressional districts in the red states the president lost in 2008 and they won some blue senate seats, specifically Illinois, Wisconsin, and Ohio.
Where they won they enacted swift catastrophic change. Rolling back civil rights, reproductive rights, enacting vicious austerity measures that punished the poor, broke unions, and significantly marginalized or eliminated the middle class. There are consequences to extremism, however.
Rob Portman (R-OH) is down 18 points in three months, according to PPP. Gary Daniels is running in Michigan for senate and will likely win.
Disproportionately, blacks and women found themselves on the receiving end of this set of cuts. Still reeling from the loss of home value, this cut in hours, or the elimination of jobs entirely, significantly disadvantaged the black community even further. We probably should have voted in 2010, right?
But we won out west. This is the part that the media never covers, and it is also the part that the GOP got completely wrong. The Hispanic community increased their Dem support by 10%, breaking the mythic 70% barrier that should have set off every alarm in the GOP. Asian Americans also voted for Dems above 70% for the second cycle in a row. Alarms should have been going off. The Dems held California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico (though we lost the governor race to a former Dem), and WA.
When I look at 2010 — and it was a pivotal election, one that cemented the dysfunction of Washington and made President Obama’s job infinitely harder — I see a draw. We held five and we lost five. The House races aside, we held our own in a midterm cycle in which we should have lost all ten states. The fact that we didn’t meant something. It meant the election wasn’t what we thought it was. It was an aberration.
With unemployment hovering around 10% at the time of the election, the fact that the president was able to hold the west was shocking. It was proof of strength, not proof of weakness.
As students of politics truly examined the 2010 results, and I’m talking professional polls, not pundits or reporters, it suddenly looked almost impossible for the GOP to win in 2012. The alacrity with which major political figures declined to run against President Obama should have set off alarms everywhere. No major candidate ran. Why? Because 2010 was the hiccup, not the pattern.
What I see now is a GOP and media incapable of reading the tea leaves. While many professional Repubs get that they aren’t in a good position, the general population still functions as though “Romney is winning Ohio.” The GOP is having trouble fielding top level recruits for 2014. This is the same pattern as 2012’s presidential election. The people who are actually running for office know how damaged the Party is.
The last time they had trouble fielding top level recruits they got a year-long primary, and more than twenty debates with Mitt Romney as their candidate. We could only hope to be so lucky come 2014.
In three of the last four cycles, we’ve mopped the floor with the GOP. The conventional wisdom is that without the president at the top of the ticket we’re going to repeat 2010. I couldn’t disagree more. We’ve reached a pivot from President Obama being the only political force, for good or ill, in the universe. The GOP spent five years yelling, “The muslims are coming!” and whispering, “He’s black,” and using the race of the president as a means of ensuring that white working- and middle-class people vote GOP against their own economic, social, and measurable interests.
Without Barack Obama on the ballot and no chance of him appearing on the ballot in the future, the Republican Party is finally forced to run on their merits. The emperor has no clothes and Republican’s harmful race-baiting arguments of the last five years are over.
J. Christian Watts
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