National Party News

The party’s over: This is the GOP’s last stand

Late Tuesday evening, we will know who gets the title president-elect tacked onto the front of their name. According to national and battleground state polling, early voting returns, aggregate compilations, and betting markets, Secretary Hillary Clinton is the odds-on favorite to win both the popular vote and Electoral College.

But regardless of the outcome, one conclusion has become unavoidable. This is the last presidential election the Republican Party will participate in as a national political force. Oh, they’ll continue running candidates every four years, but from this point onward their popularity has peaked and can only recede.

What? You don’t believe me? You really believe the populist wave of white fear and resentment that brought one Donald J. Trump perilously, embarrassingly close to presiding over the world’s largest economy and most powerful military is going to continue building in the coming years?

Sorry, but no.

{mosads}You don’t have to take my word for it. The grim reality of the GOP’s future election prospects was laid down by Republicans themselves. After Governor Romney’s defeat in 2012, republican operatives and analysts did something remarkable for a party that has come to define itself on a proud rejection of expert testimony and objective evidence. An election post-mortem study was conducted, both looking forward to the future of the country, and looking inside the party and its goals. But what should have been used as an instruction manual for how to bring the Grand Old Party back to relevancy and respectability has instead turned into a self-penned obituary.

The problem Republicans face is simple demographics. The core of their constituency has for decades been predominantly white, working class, rural, and older than the population at large. For all of the time, such a coalition was large and robust enough to get that magic fifty-one percent of the vote nationally. But no longer. Instead, because of the age imbalance between the parties, the GOP is shrinking due to die-off at a rate of around 110,000 Romney voters per year since the last election cycle. Without new voters to replace this dwindling pool, the GOP will wither and die on the vine. But from where?

Recognizing this inescapable reality, the authors of the 2012 post-election study identified several demographic groups that the GOP had to find a way to appeal to, and fast, or face electoral extinction on the national stage. Their warning was as straight-forward as it was stark:

“Unless the RNC gets serious about tackling this problem, we will lose future elections…” and, “The pervasive mentality of writing off blocks of states or demographic votes for the Republican Party must be completely forgotten.”

The groups the authors went on to target for concentrated outreach and revamped messaging included Latinos, blacks, women, and the young, all of which continue to grow in total percentage of the population as the proportion of older white voters (which comprise much of the GOP’s core voters) shrinks with each passing year.

And while looking around today it may seem ludicrously optimistic to expect any amount of outreach and re-branding could sway these voters’ minds when it came to the GOP, it was not always so. As recently as 2004, the Republican ticket for the White house pulled a robust forty-four percent of the Latino vote. George W. Bush, for all of his manifest flaws and failures, was not a xenophobic ultra-nationalist. His brand of “compassionate conservatism,” while largely driven by a softer tone as opposed to an actual concrete shift in policy objectives or legislative accomplishments, was far more welcoming to outside groups. “Family values do not end at the Rio Grande… and a hungry mother is going to try to feed her child,” said the former Governor of Texas.

So, how successful was the GOP at implementing these recommendations? They selected as their standard bearer a man who is not only unwelcoming to every last one of them, but actively seeks to drive them away at something approaching the speed of light. Let’s look at the unfolding disaster of each group individually.

“If Hispanic Americans hear that the GOP doesn’t want them in the United States, they won’t pay attention to our next sentence,” warned the study. And they didn’t. When your very first paragraph of the Presidential campaign season is “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” That probably wasn’t the opening statement the study’s authors were hoping for. It’s as if they’d said “We need to find a way to bring in Latinos,” and The Donald responded, “Have the police bring in all the Latinos, got it.”

Between this, the Wall (which somehow made it onto the party’s official platform), and Donald’s attacks on a Mexican American judge, the GOP nuked their bridge to the Latino community from orbit, then set up cameras along the riverbank to make sure none of them snuck into their shrinking tent.

As a result, Latino support for the GOP has shrunk to no more than twenty percent, less than half of the high-water mark under W’s Presidency. Meanwhile, turnout among Latinos in early voting in several important swing states has surged. Florida’s Latinos have already cast more ballots as of Sunday than they had in all of 2012. North Carolina and Nevada are seeing similar upticks. These are not people who are going to forget Trump’s naked xenophobia or the party that enshrined it as a plank in their national platform four years down the line, not even if the GOP runs someone like Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz. The damage to the GOP’s reputation among this group may be permanent.

So how about the black community? How’s outreach going there? Currently, black support for Donald Trump hovers around two. Not two percent, two guys. Their names: Ben Carson and Don King.

Women? Well, amazingly, the man who cheated on his first two wives, made strangely sexual comments about his own daughter, demeans and fat-shames beauty pageant winners, wants to see women who choose to abort punished, has promised to stack the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, openly brags about committing serial sexual assault, and threatens to sue any woman who dares to come forward and say, “Yeah, he totally grabbed me by the pussy,” isn’t getting a whole lot of traction with the ladies in the ballot box, with nearly two thirds of them turned off by his rampant misogyny. They are also, surprise, surprise, the largest voting block in the country. Despite the fact women are often thrown into the same category as other “minority” groups, they are actually a clear majority of the electorate, with nearly fifty-four percent of registered voters being of the fairer sex. And they, just like Latinos, are turning out in droves for early voting.

Which leaves us with the youth vote. They’re the future, right? No, actually, they’re the present. While turnout among the young is always frustrating to people who follow politics, the reality is Millennials have already overtaken the Baby-Boomers as the single largest age group in the country. And it’s not just their size that makes them different. Compared to older generations, Millennials are more diverse ethnically, religiously, and sexually. Furthermore, they are more urban and more educated than their parents. All of these traits are indicators of stronger democratic leanings which, taken together, translate to a huge knot of new democratic support as they age and become more politically engaged in the coming years.

And while much ink has been shed about Sec Clinton’s struggles bringing the youth onboard after a contentious primary race that saw her defeat their unlikely darling and favorite crazy grandpa in Senator Sanders, what’s being overlooked is that Trump and the GOP never had their support. There may be disaffected youths still hanging out with the dwindling Johnson and Stein crowds instead of jumping to team Hillary, but almost none of them have migrated over to team Racist Traffic Cone. They are the generation who grew up surrounded by computers, queer friends, unconventional families, international travel, and student loan debt. They are not afraid of a more active government helping to ease their debts and protect the civil liberties of their peers. Nor does greater interaction and integration with the rest of the world scare them, so long as that interaction isn’t bomb-based.

Millennials are locking in their voting patterns for the coming decades right now. They’re cultivating political attitudes and opinions in an environment where the GOP is still spewing venom about their immigrant friends, LGTBQ friends, Muslim friends, minority friends, and female friends. Even the heterosexual whites among them find this messaging repulsive and cruel.

Without these groups, there is no future for the Republicans as a national party. They will shamble on as a regional force, largely and ironically confined to the sorts of states and racist white former Dixiecrats that Richard Nixon cynically courted with his Southern in the aftermath of the Civil Rights act. Shrunk down from the big tent of the Reagan era to little more than Democratic castoffs from fifty years ago.

The Republican Party is over. They’ve shut off the music, turned up the lights, and are kicking everyone out. All that will remain is an after party, except all the cool people have already left.

Tomlinson is an author and regular contributor to the Hill on state, local and national politics. Follow him on Twitter @stealthygeek.

The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.





Tags Donald Trump Donald Trump Election GOP Hillary Clinton Marco Rubio Party presidential election Republican Ted Cruz
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