Feehery: What Republicans must do to adapt to political realignment

Feehery: What Republicans must do to adapt to political realignment

To paraphrase Voltaire, if Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Bob Woodward book will include details of 25 personal letters between Trump and Kim Jong Un On The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' Biden commemorates anniversary of Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' rally: 'We are in a battle for the soul of our nation' MORE did not exist, America would have had to invent him.

The realignment happening in American politics is perhaps enhanced by, but certainly not caused by, Mr. Trump.

That political earthquake you feel under your feet is caused by the shifting tectonic plates of political geography, demography, age and education.


Geographically speaking, it is significant that Donald Trump won more than 2,600 counties in 2016, while Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden, Harris make first public appearance as running mates Trump campaign spox rips GOP congressman over rejection of QAnon conspiracy Biden hits back after Trump's attacks on Harris MORE won only slightly more than 400. The country is one big splash of red interrupted by relatively tiny splashes of blue. The values held dear by those in rural America are distinctly and perhaps irreversibly different from the values of those who live in big metropolitan areas and the most of their suburbs. Those values are what compel voters in both areas to vote the way they do.

Demographically, the voting public is becoming more multi-chromatic, especially in the cities and the suburbs. The percentage of the white vote has declined from 75 percent of the electorate in 2000 to 67 percent of the electorate in 2020. The largest minority are Hispanic voters and the fastest growing group are Asian voters. White voters are increasing voting their fears while minority voters vote their hopes.

Generationally, about 38 percent of the voters are older than 55 years old, while about 30 percent of voters are younger than 30 years old. White voters skew much older while younger voters are much more likely to be either black, Asian, Hispanic or biracial.

While about 90 percent of the American people have a high school degree and about 60 percent have some college, only 36 percent have a bachelor’s degree and only 13 percent have an advanced degree or above. Younger voters tend to have had more college and are more likely to have received their degree.

The most significant shift in voting habits has happened mostly among white voters. More educated and richer white voters, once the heart of the Republican Party, are trending toward the Democrat Party, while blue-collar voters are moving swiftly to the Republican Party.


But Republicans can’t successfully compete at the national level if it only represents white, blue collar workers. To succeed, it must become the working-class party of all races and creeds.

The battle in the next election will be fought on three separate battlegrounds:  In the suburbs, among Generation Xers and among immigrants who agree with Republicans on values and on ideology but who dislike Trump personally.

Republicans don’t have to win the suburbs, but they can’t get wiped out in them, like they did in Virginia and around Philadelphia. They especially have to cut their losses among white, married women, who turned on them in the last two off-year elections.

They have to hold their own among those Americans who share more in common with the Greatest Generation than with the woke generation. These Gen Xers have made a lot of progress in the stock market and want to raise their children with values that they were raised with.

And finally, they have to do better with minority, and especially immigrant voters who share their traditional family values and appreciation for the hard, gritty work of growing a small business.

Many of these voters appreciate the president’s strong leadership on the economy but are turned off by his divisive rhetoric.

The president and Republicans in general have to reiterate that their vision of America has a special appreciation for those folks who play by the rules, who contribute to our economy, who work hard and who came to America not because it is a socialist paradise, but because it is the kind of country where anybody can succeed, no matter what their color or creed.

Feehery is a partner at EFB Advocacy and blogs at www.thefeeherytheory.com. He served as spokesman to former Speaker Dennis HastertJohn (Dennis) Dennis HastertFeehery: Weak mayors destroy America's great cities Feehery: The fight worth having with teachers' unions Feehery: How Trump can better handle COVID-19 and win reelection MORE (R-Ill.), as communications director to former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) when he was majority whip and as a speechwriter to former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.).