Markos Moulitsas: GOP shine is fading

Markos Moulitsas: GOP shine is fading
© Greg Nash

Republicans aren’t even officially in control of both congressional chambers yet, and the public has already soured on them. 

A CNN/ORC poll this week found that just 44 percent of adults say that the GOP’s newly won control of Congress will be good for the country. In 2010, 52 percent were cheered by Republican gains that year. And 67 percent were happy with the Democrats’ big wins in 2006.


The 2014 electorate was made up of just a small subset of all adults, unlike CNN’s poll. In fact, only 36 percent of eligible Americans voted, the lowest since 1942. That means only about 1 in 5 voting-age Americans voted for a Republican this year — hardly a mandate or representative of the U.S. population. 

But as unrepresentative as the GOP’s supporters might be, Democrats were even worse at motivating, inspiring and turning out its voters. And a majority of all adults now realize that might not have been a good thing. 

That’s not surprising, given that Republicans have spent the last month sputtering over the president’s tame
immigration executive orders, filing laughable lawsuits against perceived and imagined presidential slights and abuses, and threatening another disruptive and destructive government shutdown. And while Republicans did a surprisingly good job of tamping down impeachment talk during election season, that dam is about to burst with the growth of the Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzLawmakers announce legislation to fund government purchases of oil Overnight Energy: Oil giants meet with Trump at White House | Interior extends tenure of controversial land management chief | Oil prices tick up on hopes of Russia-Saudi deal Oil giants meet at White House amid talk of buying strategic reserves MORE-led extremist caucus in both the House and Senate. 

In addition to their message problem, Republicans have a map problem.

With Republican gains maximized in both the House and Senate, the GOP is now on electoral defense. Democrats hold only five congressional districts won by Mitt Romney in 2012, giving the GOP precious few targets for future expansion. In the Senate, Republicans face a brutal 2016 map. Given that they’ll be defending their 2010 wave pickups in a presidential year — which tends to have higher Democratic turnout — Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers outline proposals for virtual voting Overnight Health Care: Trump calls report on hospital shortages 'another fake dossier' | Trump weighs freezing funding to WHO | NY sees another 731 deaths | States battle for supplies | McConnell, Schumer headed for clash Phase-four virus relief hits a wall MORE shouldn’t order too many “majority leader” business cards.

Republicans will try and make a play for Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidThe Memo: Political trench warfare colors views on coronavirus GOP embraces big stimulus after years of decrying it Five Latinas who could be Biden's running mate MORE’s Senate seat in Nevada and maybe Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetHillicon Valley: Coronavirus tracking sparks surveillance concerns | Target delivery workers plan Tuesday walkout | Federal agency expedites mail-in voting funds to states | YouTube cracks down on 5G conspiracy videos Why being connected really matters for students Democratic senator criticizes Zoom's security and privacy policies MORE’s in Colorado, but there are no obvious pickup opportunities beyond those two. And even in those states, Republicans will be hard-pressed to replicate their 2014 successes in an election with presidential turnout. 

Meanwhile, Democrats will have real opportunities in Arizona, Illinois, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, plus legitimate shots in places like Alaska, Louisiana and Georgia — not to mention the inevitable unexpected opportunities that crop up with retirements and Tea Party primary ousters. 

Meanwhile, the presidential primaries promise to be a study in contrasts. Republicans will be driven ever rightward, with candidates fighting to prove their conservative bona fides. On issues from immigration to healthcare to women’s issues, their rhetoric will continue alienating key segments of the presidential-year electorate. The Democratic side promises to be far more constructive, with any challenges to presumed nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump, Biden set for tight battle in Florida We need to be 'One America,' the polling says — and the politicians should listen Poll shows Biden with 6-point edge on Trump in Florida MORE pushing her away from her pro-Wall Street and interventionist inclinations to a more populist — hence popular — direction.

Republicans still haven’t proven they can win the key presidential battleground states when turnout ticks up. Their insistence on appealing to the midterm electorate, older and whiter, guarantees their presidential problems will continue into the foreseeable future. The nation’s demographic changes aren’t slowing down for anyone. 

All that, and Americans aren’t even giving Republicans a 2014 honeymoon? That’s the price of refusing to adapt beyond a narrow base and nonexistent message. 


Moulitsas is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos.