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Hullabaloo


Monday, December 09, 2013

 
The fever shows no signs of breaking yet

by David Atkins

After their resounding defeat in the 2012 general election, many Republicans realized that they were facing a date with demographic destiny and needed to change course. Thus began the "rebranding" effort, which lasted all of a few months before the Republican base and the conservative media establishment slapped them down for suggesting that even a dollop of humanity be added to Republican policies.

Fast forward a year and another smashing electoral defeat in formerly red Virginia, and it looks like Republicans are finally beginning to see that....no, wait. Never mind. No change necessary. Full speed ahead, mates:

Virginia Republicans suffered a drubbing last month, losing all three statewide races (though a recount is impending in one). A year earlier, it was pretty much the same story as Mitt Romney got swamped and the party unexpectedly lost ground in the Senate.
But to hear GOP leaders in this once reliably red state tell it, this is no time to panic. No hint of discouragement is betrayed. Just as many party activists insisted after Romney’s loss, key figures here said that their shortcomings are cosmetic — that the problem is largely about campaign mechanics and how the conservative message is being delivered, not the message itself.

So if the Commonwealth, sure to again be a top battleground in 2016, is a microcosm for the broader Republican Party, the GOP faithful here weren’t showing much interest in the kind of soul-searching many in the GOP believe is necessary if they want to win big elections again.

“All these reports of our demise are premature,” said Bill Howell, speaker of the state House of Delegates. “The cycle swings, and we’ll be back.”

Gathering this weekend for the first time since crusading conservative Ken Cuccinelli’s narrower-than-expected 2.5-percentage-point defeat, a chorus of activists, elected officials and other party hands stressed that Cuccinelli’s ideology was not his undoing...

State party Chairman Pat Mullins accused the media of covering “war on women” attacks more aggressively than the problems with Obamacare.

“This year, our message couldn’t break through and we paid a price,” he said.
Mullins mocked post-election analysis that said Cuccinelli was too conservative for a changing state.

“This is false narrative by false prophets,” he said. “Republicans do not win when we are mini-Democrats or Democrat Lite.”
Eventually, no matter how much money the Kochs and the Waltons and their friends spend, demographic realities are going to destroy this incarnation of the GOP.

Women voters hate the GOP. Voters under 35 hate the GOP. Latino voters hate the GOP. Black voters hate the GOP. Asian voters hate the GOP. LGBT voters hate the GOP. Secular voters hate the GOP. Highly educated voters hate the GOP. Voters in densely populated areas hate the GOP. Nor is any of that likely to change soon.

All the GOP has left in terms of favorable demographics, are religious straight white men over 35 years old, mostly without college degrees, who don't live in big cities. Folks who started on third base, grew up in the economy the New Deal built, got good jobs without going into massive debt for their education, bought houses cheap, elected Reagan, cut taxes, trashed the place, watched their houses and stocks quadruple in value through no skill or effort of their own, destroyed the economic future of the Millennial generation, and then think they "built that" and hit a triple. The Fox News watching demographic is overwhelmingly white and over 70 years old.

Every single electoral cycle, the percentage of GOP-friendly demographics shrinks in the electorate. Not only did Obama clean Romney's clock in 2012, Democrats unexpectedly picked up Senate seats, and 1.5 million more Americans voted for Dem House candidates than GOP ones. The only reason the GOP holds the House is gerrymandering. Republicans have won the popular vote in presidential elections just once in the last six. 2016 won't be any different.

The only reason the GOP has a near-term prayer at all is that fewer Americans vote in midterms, which means that hateful, committed Fox News/Limbaugh rump base of whipped-up hysterical neo-Confederate Ayn Rand-loving voters can still make a difference to reverse some of the momentum from Presidential years. But not for long.

Eventually, this fever will break. It has to in order to preserve the balance of the two-party system. The only question is what that will look like.


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