Problems Abound for Both Sides
Both political parties in Washington can look at last week’s election results and find encouragement. Democrats who see their victories as a sign that Donald Trump will be a one-term president should ask Mitt Romney how that turned out for him after the Republican wave of 2010. There remain structural issues that Democrats and Republicans have to contend with, and neither group seems very interested in contending with much of anything right now.
Democrats continue to alienate a vast portion of the country. The party has become urban, secular and coastal. One need look no further than the growing distrust in the media to see the Democrats’ problems. A large segment of the public views the media as a wing of the Democratic Party. And the media, like the Democrats, is highly secular, coastal and progressive. Neither seems able to relate to Americans outside their demographics anymore.
Both black and Hispanic males increased their votes for the Republicans in 2018 — an overlooked data point. In fact, Georgia’s Republican gubernatorial nominee, Brian Kemp, mustered almost 40 percent of the Hispanic vote, and Rick Scott, the Florida Republican candidate for the Senate, captured about half the Hispanic vote in Florida. Hispanic men, like white men, tended to vote more Republican than Hispanic women, but Democrats are ignoring the trend entirely.
Democrats have also ceded the Senate landscape. In 2020, though more Republicans will be up for election than Democrats, the only really unfavorable ground for the GOP will be Colorado, and even that will be offset with Democratic Sen. Doug Jones most likely losing re-election in Alabama. Even if the Democrats could beat Trump, they will probably have to contend with a Republican Senate. As they continue their efforts to delegitimize any part of government that does not go their way, they will probably find even more independent voters tiring of them.
Republicans have bigger problems than the Democrats. They are losing the suburbs. In the last two years, suburban voters have not suddenly turned more progressive or socialist. They are not suddenly more likely to want gun restrictions, high taxes or universal health care. They have just soured on the president.
You yourself may be a suburban voter who loves the president — and maybe everyone you know loves the president — but we have real data in the form of votes. Suburban voters who tend to vote Republican even if they do not show up in Republican primaries or at Republican rallies have decided they are not fans of Donald Trump.
From reliably red Oklahoma to Kansas to Texas to Georgia, safe Republican seats fell to Democrats. I suspect, though I cannot prove, that some of those voters voted Democrat assuming they could protest Trump without costing the GOP the seat, but most of those voters actively voted against the GOP. Republicans need to do real damage control.
I just do not expect Republicans can or will do damage control, mostly because President Trump is incapable of change. The rejection of the GOP really was a rejection of President Trump. The adjusted exit polling, which is a highly reliable guide to voter thinking, shows that most voters dislike the president and those voters voted overwhelming for Democrats.
White women still tended to vote Republican and married women tended to vote Republican. But the number of white and married women voting for the GOP declined in direct correlation to the rise in their antipathy for President Trump.
The solution is, frankly, for President Trump to shut up. Polling in multiple races shifted dramatically to the Democrats after Trump announced he wanted to end birthright citizenship. Even looking at the generic ballot this past year, the longer Trump stayed off Twitter, the better his polling did and the better the Republicans did.
A lot of Americans really like President Trump’s policies, and if he could just exercise self-control, they could probably be convinced to vote for him in 2020. But good luck getting him to change his ways.
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