The Right Opinion

Republican Annihilation Is Not Likely

By Michael Barone · Jan. 28, 2013

These days, our political parties are defined by their presidents. Their policies and their programs tend to become their respective parties' orthodoxies.

And the perceived success or failure of those policies and programs tends to determine how the parties' candidates, even those who don't support many of them, do at the polls.

This has been especially true in the past two decades, in which fewer Americans have been splitting their tickets or changing their minds from election to election than was the case from the 1950s to the 1980s.

For years, white Southerners voted Republican or for a third-party candidate in presidential elections and Democratic in congressional and state contests. Now they're solidly Republican.

For most of the 20th century, New York was a target state in elections, and Vermont was the most Republican state in the nation. Now they're both hugely Democratic.

These are things to keep in mind as the political air swirls with talk of Barack Obama as a Democratic Ronald Reagan annihilating the Republican Party.

Neither of our two political parties is going to be annihilated. Both have suffered far worse defeats than Mitt Romney and the Republicans suffered in 2012.

Both have figured out how to adapt and win over voters who used to vote against them – or at least to position themselves to win when the other side's president is seen to have massively failed.

The 2008-2012 Obama campaign – it never really stopped – did an excellent job of turning out just enough voters to win 332 electoral votes in 2012. But Obama carried just 26 states to Romney's 24, which is relevant when you look at future senatorial elections.

As for House elections, Obama carried only 207 congressional districts to Romney's 228. That's partly because Republicans had the advantage in redistricting after the 2010 census.

But it's also because Democratic core constituencies – blacks, Hispanics and gentry liberals – tend to be clustered geographically in big metropolitan areas. Obama's large margins there helped him carry many electoral votes, but not so many congressional districts.

And Obama's in-your-face liberalism, so apparent in last week's inaugural speech, antagonized some groups in a way that may hurt Democrats for some time to come.

The Obamacare contraception mandate helped Romney carry 59 percent of white Catholics – probably their highest Republican percentage ever – and 79 percent of white evangelical Protestants. Those groups total 44 percent of the electorate.

That's a counterbalance to Obama's 93 percent among blacks and 71 percent among Hispanics. They were just 23 percent of the electorate, and though Hispanics will be a growing percentage, blacks probably won't.

It's going to be hard for other Democrats to replicate Obama's coalition in 2014 and 2016. It's not clear whether other Democrats can generate the turnout among blacks, Hispanics and young voters that he did.

And it's pretty clear that under the Obama aegis, Democrats cannot make the kind of gains in congressional races that they did in 2006 and 2008.

Back then, Democratic strategists Rahm Emanuel and Charles Schumer fielded moderate-sounding candidates in Republican-leaning territory who were able to win because of discontent with the performance of George W. Bush. When his job approval fell below 40 percent, Republican candidates almost everywhere were hurt.

Democrats in 2014 will have to run as members of the party led by Obama. That could be a hard sell in the 24 states and 228 congressional districts that he failed to carry in November.

Take Georgia, where Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss announced Friday he will not run for re-election next year. Obama got 45 percent of the vote there, his second-highest percentage in a state he didn't carry. (The highest was in North Carolina.)

Examination of the 2012 returns in Georgia's 159 counties and in its 14 congressional districts reveals unusually high turnout among black voters – considerably higher than in the 2010 off year or any election before 2008.

Georgia Democrats have high hopes of winning Chambliss' Senate seat. But it looks like an uphill climb.

George W. Bush's 51 percent re-election, with 11.5 million more votes than four years before, got his strategist Karl Rove musing about a permanent Republican majority. That didn't happen.

Now Obama's 51 percent re-election, with 3.6 million fewer votes than four years before, has Democrats talking about annihilating the Republican Party. That's not likely to happen, either.



Tod the tool guy in brooklyn ny said:

Speaking of annihilation---seven people were blown away, in Rahmbotown yesterday! Reprobates are running berserk, in the windy City! And Motown ain't far behind, in metro KRIME!!! When liberals run roughshod, and usurp the LAWS of the LAND, it gets UGLY, and STAYS THAT WAY!!!When the riots start here, I'll be oiling my powder rifle, and reading Free To Choose, by Milton Friedman-Conservative Hero!!

Monday, January 28, 2013 at 6:25 AM

wjm in Colorado said:

With the continuing failure of marxism, it should be fairly easy to defeat the traitors, but with voter fraud, the indoctrination, the propoganda, and inarticulate Republican candidates, what should be so easy is such an uphill battle. It may be unwinnable, and we will have to see a colapse before the majority of useful idiots wake up.

Monday, January 28, 2013 at 10:16 AM

Howard Last in Wyoming said:

Actually we have three major parties, Democrap, Democrap Lite (AKA RINO's) and Republicans. After Reagan left office the RINO's have taken over the Republican Party. How else did Bush the Elder and Younger, Dole, McCain and Romney get the nomination?

Monday, January 28, 2013 at 11:26 AM

HP in KAlispell, MT replied:

I just watched McCain and Schumer announce the new bipartisan immigration plan that leads to legalizing "undocumented workers" here. The republicans are determined to get some Latino votes. All they're doing is adding another 12 - 20 million Democrap voters to the rolls. Michael, better rethink your 2014 results.

Monday, January 28, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Tex Horn in Texas said:

wjm, this term in your response stands out to me: "...inarticulate Republicans..."

I think this is one of the things holding Republicans back: there are no articulate Republicans. Instead, it is a bunch of idiots talking about the definition of rape and such. Obama's power is partially through propaganda and smooth talk. Where is the Republican that can clearly and effectively articulate the Republican message? Now that I think about it, what is the Republican message?

Monday, January 28, 2013 at 2:50 PM