Republicans Learned Right Lesson from 2012, Went Wrong Direction

What happened to "building a lasting relationship within the African American community"?

Kevin Drum points out that the famous “autopsy” conducted by the Republican National Committee after Mitt Romney’s loss to Barack Obama correctly identified the GOP’s problem and pointed to the logical conclusion:

In 1980, exit polls tell us that the electorate was 88 percent white. In 2012, it was 72 percent white….According to the Pew Hispanic Center, in 2050, whites will be 47 percent of the country….The Republican Party must be committed to building a lasting relationship within the African American community year-round, based on mutual respect and with a spirit of caring.

Rather obviously, they . . . did. not. do. that. not do that.

Drum’s analysis as to why not:

But there was always a glaring problem with this strategy, one that everybody was keenly aware of: reaching out to black voters would only work if Republicans also ceased their tolerance of white bigotry. In other words, they’d almost certainly lose votes on a net basis at first, which would mean handing over the presidency—and maybe much more—to Democrats for upwards of a decade or so. That’s just too big a sacrifice for any political party to make.

So instead they took another route: they went after the white vote even harder. In Donald Trump they found a candidate who wasn’t afraid to appeal to racist sentiment loudly and bluntly, something that simply hadn’t occurred to other Republicans. They never thought they could get away with something like this in the 21st century, and normally they would have been right: it would have lost them as many votes among educated whites as it won them among working-class whites. But after eight years of a black president in the White House, racial tensions were ratcheted up just enough that Trump could get away with it. Only by a hair, and only with plenty of other help, but he did get away with it, losing 10 points of support among college-educated whites but gaining 14 points among working-class whites.

The entire Republican Party is now all-in on this strategy. They mostly stay quiet themselves and let Trump himself do the dirty work, but that’s enough. Nobody talks anymore about reaching out to the black community with a spirit of caring or any other spirit. Nor is there anything the rest of us can do about this. Republicans believe that wrecking the fabric of the country is their only hope of staying in power, and they’re right. If working-class whites abandon them even a little bit, they’re toast.

Now, I think that’s slightly off. Mostly, because it treats the GOP as though it were a tightly-controlled organization rather than a decentralized collective.

The people who commissioned the post-2012 autopsy likely knew the answer ahead of time and were, I think, genuinely ready to steer the party in the right direction. The problem is that there is no party to steer.

Reince Priebus, who was RNC chair from January 2011 until resigning to become President Trump’s first chief of staff in 2017, was more apparatchik than ideologue. He focused most of his energy into streamlining the party’s fundraising, communications, and organization. But he understood early on that the party needed to move in the direction the “autopsy” would recommend.

For ease of effort, I’m relying here on Wikipedia’s summary of his tenure:

After the Republican loss in the 2012 presidential election, Priebus called for Republicans to embrace comprehensive immigration reform that would afford illegal immigrants in the U.S. legal status.[38] He also ordered reviews of RNC operations, including the party’s messaging to young people, women, and Hispanics.[39] The analysis of the election cycle would include gathering feedback from numerous volunteers and staffers who were involved at various levels.[40][41] He began development of a political plan including a long-term strategy to reach demographic groups that had voted mainly Democratic in the November 2012 elections. The plan was labeled “The Growth and Opportunity Project”.[37]

[…]

For Priebus’s second term he set the goal of “transforming the party – to be a force from coast to coast.”[44] In his re-election speech he stated that the party would no longer approach electoral politics from a “red and blue state” perspective.[44]

On March 18, 2013, Priebus presented the completed Growth and Opportunity Project report developed from a listening tour and four-month analysis[45] carried out by Priebus and Republican strategists including Ari Fleischer, Henry Barbour, Sally Bradshaw, Zori Fonalledas and Glenn McCall.[37] The report outlined a comprehensive plan for the party to overhaul its operations.[45] Specific plans outlined in the report included: improving the Republican Party’s digital and research capabilities; a $10 million outreach effort to minority communities; supporting immigration reform; and reducing the length of the presidential primary season.[45]

[…]

Also following the Growth and Opportunity Project report (also called “the autopsy” and “the post-mortem”[52]), Priebus led efforts to reach out to black, Latino and Asian American voters. In July 2014, he spoke at the National Association of Black Journalists convention, where he said that to support these efforts the Republican Party was spending approximately $8.5 million per month and had established offices in 15 states.[53]

But the 2016 campaign demonstrated how little control the RNC has over the party:

In December 2015, Priebus publicly criticized then Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s proposal to temporarily suspend Muslim immigration in response to terrorist attacks. “I don’t agree”, Priebus told The Washington Examiner.[68] Following Trump’s controversial remarks about Mexican illegal immigrants in early 2015, Priebus reportedly delivered a “stern 40-minute lecture” to Trump.[69]
In May 2016, Priebus again publicly criticized Trump, saying Trump was not the head of the Republican Party and that Trump must “change his tone.”[70]

On August 1, 2016, after Trump criticized the Gold Star family of Captain Humayun Khan, a Muslim soldier who was killed in Iraq and whose father criticized Trump, Priebus yet again criticized Trump publicly, stating “I think this family should be off limits, and we love them and I can’t imagine being the father of a little girl and boy going through the unbelievable grief of them not coming home one day in battle.”[71]

A December 8, 2016, New York magazine article by Gabriel Sherman reported that “some Trump advisers are dismayed by Priebus’s influence because they question the Washington insider’s loyalty to the president-elect … Three sources told me that shortly after the Access Hollywood tape leaked in early October, Priebus went to Trump’s penthouse and advised the candidate to get out of the race,” Sherman reported. This article contains no named sources aside from two members of the current Trump administration, both of whom were cited to clear discrepancies in the otherwise unsourced article.[72] Priebus announced days afterward in October that the RNC would continue to support Trump.[73]*

Priebus would almost certainly have preferred a more mainstream nominee than Trump. But he had limited tools, indeed, to shape the outcome.

Moreover, I think many of the state-level Republican apparatuses made the calculation Drum describes. That is, whether they agreed with Priebus and company about what was good for the party in the long run, they calculated that their present interests were best served by a combination of race-baiting, nativism, and voter suppression.

That it wound up working in 2016 was, frankly, a fluke.

Trump was and is sui generis in his ability to generate free publicity from the news media. Further, whether by luck or design, scandals that would fell any other candidate merely graze him because there are so many that people grew weary of paying attention. And Hillary Clinton had been in the spotlight so long and accumulated so much baggage that Democratic enthusiasm was unusually low.

Voter suppression efforts likely helped turn a statewide race or three in the 2018 midterms but the tide continues to turn overall. A handful of historically red states, including my own home state of Virginia, have turned purple if not blue and none have gone in the other direction. (Going back a bit further, California, by far our most populous state, went from reliably Republican to reliably Democratic.) Texas is likely to flip within a couple of cycles unless the GOP can find a way to appeal to Latino voters.

The lessons of 2012, then, continue to apply. Trump’s racism/nativism and the failure of all but a handful of Republican leaders to condemn it have not only delayed the necessary course correction but made it far more difficult.

______________________________

*I’ve left in the footnote indicators. While I didn’t click the links for verification, a glance at the sources shows them to be mostly solid (there are a few Newsmax-type stories mixed in) and the narrative comports with my own recollection of events.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Donald Trump, Race and Politics, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Now, I think that’s slightly off. Mostly, because it treats the GOP as though it were a tightly-controlled organization rather than a decentralized collective.

    Who follow trump in lockstep or at the very least STFU if they know what’s good for them. You cite examples of Priebus “standing up” to trump in 2016, but never mention that he fell in line and became trump’s first CoS? Just like that brave stalwart of Republican values Lindsey Graham. Or as TPM reported:

    The top three Republicans leading both chamber of Congress failed to comment on Trump’s tweets as of Monday afternoon. TPM reached out to the top three leaders in the Senate — Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), John Thune (R-SD) and John Barrasso (R-WY) — and in the House — Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Liz Cheney (R-WY) — and did not receive a response from any of their offices.

    But don’t worry:

    Scalise, the House Minority Leader, told NBC News’ Alex Moe only that “We’re gunna talk about it more,” Moe reported.

    Ooooooo…. trump’s in trouble now. They’re going to talk about it.

    James, the GOP is a cult. That is all that is left.

    10
    3
  2. steve says:

    Well written James. The other part I would add here is that Trump clearly had some awareness of right wing media and was willing to fully embrace it, especially the far right/conspiracy prone media. I think most serious Republican politicians had seen Hannity, Levin, Limbaugh, Ingraham, etc as entertainers. They made the separation in their minds that the news part of Fox, like Shep Smith, are different from the evening group of talkers. Trump, just like an awful lot of GOP voters, doesn’t make that distinction. Everything on Fox is gospel truth. Everything on Breitbart is the truth. Trump believes the same stuff his voters believe, part of why this most elite of elites (born wealthy, used Daddy’s influence to succeed, made a lot of his money by screwing working people) is embraced as “one of us” by GOP voters.

    Steve

    10
  3. Andy says:

    No doubt the GoP have latched onto Trump. But who is there when Trump leaves office? Ever the egotist, Trump is not building an organization or grooming a potential successor. There’s no one – that I can see at least – that can take Trump’s mantle and be the next Trump. And if he loses in 2020, no one will want to, because that model will have proven itself a failure. The GoP will then be up for grabs. It will then be up to people like you to out-vote the nativists on the far right in future primaries.

    But I think Kevin Drum, not exactly a neutral party here, is overly-focused on demographic identity groups instead of policy. The GoP isn’t monolithic but neither is the African American and Hispanic community. I frankly wish both parties would focus more on policy instead of pandering to skin color.

  4. An Interested Party says:

    The GoP will then be up for grabs. It will then be up to people like you to out-vote the nativists on the far right in future primaries.

    Trump wouldn’t have so much power within the GOP if his ideas were repellent to the base, but they aren’t…he’s clearly expressing what a large portion of the Republican base believes, so the idea that the racists, er, nativists will be outvoted in many GOP primaries seems a tad delusional…

    11
    1
  5. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    You cite examples of Priebus “standing up” to trump in 2016, but never mention that he fell in line and became trump’s first CoS?

    I mention that in the first sentence in which I mention Priebus

    @Andy:

    The GoP will then be up for grabs. It will then be up to people like you to out-vote the nativists on the far right in future primaries.

    I fear there are more of them then there are of me.

  6. KM says:

    @steve :
    GOP culture is now troll culture.

    They’ve absorbed everything terrible about the internet, 4chan and other dark digital hellholes into their mainstream culture and strategy. A major stated goal is to “own the libs”, just in dressed-up official language. They make decisions based on meme-logic as seen with the latest inanity of Mississippi’s burger law – out to get the soybois, you know. They live and breath conspiracies, manufacturing them on the spot and reinforcing as necessary. Things like Q-Anon and cult-like pics of Trump as Warhammer’s God-Emperor leave the fantasy of online space become things McNaughton painting a ripped Trump on a motorcycle and people trying to break into pizza parlors.

    Troll culture is harsh – cruelty is the point. Troll culture is pointless – see non-nonsensical memes treated as deep koans and wise thoughts to be repeatedly endless. Troll culture is hateful – lashing out at anyone and everyone just for the lulz. Troll culture is false – there’s no truth, only what goes viral is reality and fake news is a thing. Troll culture is juvenile – acting like a spoiled, nasty, ignorant, foul-mouthed child is preferred. Troll culture is nihilistic – nothing matters, burn it all down because who needs morals and principles when you can grab power now?

    Whether they mean to or not, mainstream Republicanism has absorbed these negative traits and is displaying them openly. It’s not just fringe anymore – this is the plan.

    11
    1
  7. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    LMFAO
    Republicans idea of reaching out to African Americans is to hire the biggest racist available to lead them.
    You cannot make it up…

    4
    2
  8. al Ameda says:

    As long as Trump, Barr and McConnell are delivering – and let’s be frank, Republicans are running the table – Republicans are not the least bit inclined to do decency and principle.

    I live here in the Bay Area, a region that is overwhelming liberal, however on my drive time last evening a talk radio host opened the lines to take calls concerning listener reaction to Trump’s remarks, the callers-in were predominantly Trump supporters.

    Small sample size but, the mindset of Trump supporters is ‘f*** that, we’re going to steam roll you guys in 2020.’ For 75 minutes most responses were pure Fox-Opinionista talking points – ‘those 4 are communists’ ‘racist? he was telling it like it is’ ‘there go liberals again, calling some a racist when they don’t agree with …’

    Again, it’s long past time for Democrats to play hardball.
    The House will vote on a motion to censure Trump today – do it, Who cares if it’s perceived as partisan? Republicans wouldn’t hesitate a Moscow minute. Time to fire back. Impeachment inquiry? Just do it. Let Republicans know that you’re there. Will this fire up the Trump base? They’re already doing their Burning Man imitation. Democrats need to be sure they get their base out again, as they did in 2018.

    13
    1
  9. James Joyner says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Republicans idea of reaching out to African Americans is to hire the biggest racist available to lead them.

    But that’s really the point of the post: the party leadership would vastly have preferred to nominate a Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio or John Kasich. The masses who make up the Republican nominating electorate didn’t share that preference.

    I’m still not sure exactly what happened. In 2008 and 2012, talented demagogues wound up losing to much more mainstream candidates in McCain and Romney. In 2016, the moderates not only didn’t catch on but seemed to divide their vote.

    But there was something weird about the mood of the country as a whole that cycle. While Bernie never had a real shot of beating Hillary in the Democratic primaries, he did much better than anyone expected. And Trump got a whole lot of Obama voters to flip.

  10. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    But there was always a glaring problem with this strategy, one that everybody was keenly aware of: reaching out to black voters would only work if Republicans also ceased their tolerance of white bigotry.

    Well sure, but where’s the bottom line in that for a party that spent the previous 30 years cultivating the GOP as a home for supporters of bigotry? The GOP has the parallel problem to what the Democrats had 40 some years ago as the home of the “left.” It’s what triangulation was about, jeez! Sadly for the GOP, bigotry is a lot more “American” and durable than leftism was.

  11. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’m still not sure exactly what happened.

    Clinton Derangement Syndrome happened.
    Putin happened.
    Comey happened.

    5
    1
  12. Teve says:

    On March 18, 2013, Priebus presented the completed Growth and Opportunity Project report developed from a listening tour and four-month analysis[45] carried out by Priebus and Republican strategists including Ari Fleischer, Henry Barbour, Sally Bradshaw, Zori Fonalledas and Glenn McCall.[37] The report outlined a comprehensive plan for the party to overhaul its operations.[45] Specific plans outlined in the report included: improving the Republican Party’s digital and research capabilities; a $10 million outreach effort to minority communities; supporting immigration reform; and reducing the length of the presidential primary season.

    this is just more, “it’s not our policies it’s our PR” nonsense. I could name half a dozen Republican policies that tell minorities “We don’t like you”. How is 10 million dollars, or 20, or 100, in ‘outreach’ going to fix that? The only meaningful policy change there would be immigration reform, which Trump is the exact opposite of.

  13. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’m still not sure exactly what happened.

    Years of quietly appealing to racists, and then finally getting someone who was willing to drop the euphemisms.

  14. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    It wasn’t just “something weird” that cycle or in the USA. Nationalist/tribalist impulses are on the rise worldwide and have been for some time. Largely, I think, because political leadership (across both parties) haven’t been successful in addressing the economic disruptions of the last few decades and the working class is continuing to be stretched and fall behind. Sure, the left has TRIED a lot harder and been blocked by right-side elites, but in the end all people see is “all politicians suck” and a lot of people fall prey to demagogues promising simple solutions. I found Clinton’s 2016 campaign maddening because she forgot her husband’s own dictum: “It’s the economy, stupid”. And no matter how well the overall numbers look, wealth and prosperity the last few decades has not been evenly distributed, and neither political party has been successful in solving it. Knowing which party to blame is a level of detailed knowledge of politics and the economy most don’t have (thanks to a determined propaganda effort going on for 30+ years); but in the end they’re just FRUSTRATED with all of it, so supported Bernie and Trump against the “mainstream” party candidates. It’s not that complicated.

    And I’m not sure calling Trump out as racist (even though he is) is the best response. I can’t stress enough how uninformed most people are. The simple truth is most people don’t think of themselves as racist or bigoted and resent being called one (whether it’s accurate or not). I have a neighbor I was talking to a few weeks ago, and the conversation drifted to politics. He said, resentfully, that he hated being called a bigot “just because I don’t want guys going into bathrooms with my teenage girls.” I could have simply said, yeah, you are a bigot, and the conversation would have ended right there, and he’d have been even more pissed and less likely to change his mind. Instead I pointed out that trans people have existed for decades going into bathrooms of their choice and this wasn’t a problem until a cynical politician realized he could get votes by campaigning against it a few years ago, plus there has never been a single actual instance of a trans individual attacking someone in a bathroom. Did I change his mind? Not that he directly said so in the conversation, but he listened, he said “he wasn’t aware of that”, and who knows, maybe it will sink in. I know he’s not a bad guy-he’s been a great neighbor for 20 years. We have to engage, not denigrate.

    I wish “the Squad” hadn’t focused on Trump’s recent crap being racist (even though I agree it was). I wish AOC had simply said “I’m from NY, idiot, so if my country is a hellhole it’s because you’re in charge of it.” I wish Khan had pointed out that she’s actually the very definition of the American dream, a refugee who came to the US penniless and “yearning to be free.” Someone who inherited nothing and who became a citizen because she loves this country and has worked hard to learn English, pass citizenship tests, and even get elected to Congress. How dare an entitled jerk who inherited hundreds of millions say that she’s not a real American when she, not him, pulled herself up from nothing?

    But instead the racism became the focus, and that’s all the relatively uninformed are going to hear. And then resent being called that (since most of them have no clue about the underlying truths) and vote against the people calling them out instead of engaging them.

  15. EddieInCA says:

    @Andy:

    I frankly wish both parties would focus more on policy instead of pandering to skin color.

    Please. Explain this.

    If you’re against gerrymandering are you focusing on policy or skin color?

    If you’re for anti-discrimination policies, are you focusing on policy or skin color?

    If you’re arguing against police brutality or profiling, are you focusing on policy or skin color?

    If you’re arguing against red-lining in banking and real estate, are you focusing on policy or skin color?

    Too much of our policy IS DIRECTLY RELATED TO SKIN COLOR. The two can’t be separated. So I want to know what you’re talking about.

    8
    1
  16. Teve says:

    I wish “the Squad” hadn’t focused on Trump’s recent crap being racist (even though I agree it was). I wish AOC had simply said “I’m from NY, idiot, so if my country is a hellhole it’s because you’re in charge of it.”

    whereupon you get 13 consecutive years of Fox News and guarneri et al saying that AOC called the United States a hell hole. Bonus points if she said exactly that on camera and you get precision-edit sound clips of “-my country is a hellhole-“.

  17. Andy says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Please. Explain this.

    Yelling at people and throwing around pejoratives and accusations is not policy. Another dumb Twitter war has nothing to do with policy. What little national policy debate we have is completely wrapped up in identity making everything a binary culture war issue that requires virtue signaling and not real debate, much less any compromise or progress for anyone.

    2
    3
  18. gVOR08 says:

    @steve:

    The other part I would add here is that Trump clearly had some awareness of right wing media and was willing to fully embrace it, especially the far right/conspiracy prone media.

    There were news stories that Trump assigned staffers to watch and listen to thousands of hours of RW media to identify issues and messages that worked. I don’t know how much of Trump is natural and how much is calculated. He is a bigot, as everyone should have known since the Central Park Five, but some of it is calculation. He may not be quite as dumb as he comes off.

  19. SKI says:

    @Andy: Interesting you flat out ignored all the actual policy issues Eddie raised. Well, not actually interesting but informative…

    4
    4
  20. An Interested Party says:

    Yelling at people and throwing around pejoratives and accusations is not policy.

    Donald Trump is a racist. This is neither a pejorative nor an accusation but a statement of fact…

    Another dumb Twitter war has nothing to do with policy.

    On the contrary…Trump is very much stating his preferred policy positions in his tweets…

    What little national policy debate we have is completely wrapped up in identity making everything a binary culture war issue that requires virtue signaling and not real debate, much less any compromise or progress for anyone.

    Living in a country that has yet to fully deal with its racist past and present doesn’t allow much energy to get past culture wars and reach compromises and progress…

    6
    3
  21. Teve says:

    @gVOR08: I also saw a lot of journalists saying a few years ago that Trump would say a whole bunch of shit at his rallies and if he got applause, he’d repeat it. The more applause something got, the more he said it.

  22. Hal_10000 says:

    I don’t think the GOP rank and file is as racist as a lot of people think. The problem with most issues is that they haven’t invested a lot of thought or research into them (which is true of about 90% of American voters). So when Trump says racist things, they nod along. But they also nodded along when Rubio said some insightful things about racial bias in policing. They also nodded along when Bush talked about compassion toward illegal immigrants. This is the same party that loved Colin Powell and touts Nikki Haley for 2024.

    The problem with Trump is not really that’s he racist. It’s that, as Will argued on our site, he bring out the worst in other people. He plays to their worst fears and instincts. He tell people that those bad thoughts that we occasionally all have are correct and proper and the good thoughts are weakness. And team loyalty means they stand by everything he say.

    The GOP could turn around remarkably fast. But it will take someone with real political talent to get their collective heads out of their collective backsides.

  23. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner:

    But there was something weird about the mood of the country as a whole that cycle.

    – The fundamentals models make it clear it’s hard to hold the WH more than two terms in any circumstances. (Hopefully one term of Trump is enough.)
    – Not only was the Prez a two term incumbent, he was black.
    – There were, and still are, a lot of disruptions from the Great Recession.

    The Depression gave us Fascism and WWII. If Trump turns out to be the nadir I’ll count us lucky.

  24. DrDaveT says:

    @Hal_10000:

    I don’t think the GOP rank and file is as racist as a lot of people think.

    So you think they’d be OK with freckled blond kids in cages? Seriously?

    7
    1
  25. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’m still not sure exactly what happened.

    Personally, I think you are stumped because your assumptions are based on a false premise but let’s assume I’m wrong (sure wouldn’t be the first time) and that there were enough Eisenhower/Rockefeller/Javits Republicans left in the party to turn the ship in the right direction. Why didn’t it work?

    Early on in this whole “Hispanics are natural Republicans / Blacks are naturally religious and conservative” epoch I started paying attention to two things which I felt would indicate the success of the endeavor: who they talked about this with, and what they didn’t say. First part was easy: people like Romney are comfortable around rich white men and that’s who they discussed this with. They went on various talking heads shows (at that time manned almost exclusively by rich white men) and talked a whole lot about it. I’m sure they also discussed it over scotch and cigars with the Koch’s and the Mercers, etc. But they very rarely went into any other venue. Proof in point the 2014 speech You mentioned by the head of the RNC (who the heck aside from journalists and political junkies even know who the head of the RNC is or what they do?), plus one or other two such acts get trotted out over and over again to show they were trying to reach out. If this outreach was to succeed it would need elected officials willing to, well, reach out. That never really happened.

    And the second criterion, what they weren’t saying. This one I really listened for. Although I heard Republicans and Conservatives at all levels accept some of the blame for not connecting more with minority voters, the blame they accepted was that they simply had not explained the Republican position well enough to the minorities. That they had to try harder to “educate” them. Not once did I ever hear one of them say, “Yeah, we really need to spend some time listening to them.” In all those years I never heard a Republican who even was aware that a minority might have something to teach them. Not once.

  26. MarkedMan says:

    @Hal_10000:

    The GOP could turn around remarkably fast.

    I was in agreement with pretty much everything in your post above until I got to this. I wish you were right, but I just don’t see how. The GOP is now completely molded by a two generations long feedback loop wherein the people that were repelled by racism, anti-science, anti-environmentalism, anti effective government, etc were driven from the party and those that were attracted by one or more things in that list were driven towards it.

  27. David S. says:

    Incidentally, Trump read that autopsy when it came out, or at least, he reacted to it on Twitter and called it suicidal on the part of the GOP.

    https://www.businessinsider.com/donald-trump-gop-autopsy-report-2016-3

  28. EddieInCA says:

    @Andy:

    You completely blew off the actual policies I asked you about. Why?

    5
    2
  29. charon says:

    @James Joyner:

    But there was something weird about the mood of the country as a whole that cycle. While Bernie never had a real shot of beating Hillary in the Democratic primaries, he did much better than anyone expected. And Trump got a whole lot of Obama voters to flip.

    Not the slightest bit of mystery if you look at the crosstabs from the exit polling. Sexism, misogyny, whatever you want to call it. Trump had 1 more penis than HRC, his winning margin.

  30. charon says:

    @charon:

    Yeah OK, people are talking about Comey, and Russians, and emailz, the NYT etc. etc. (If not that specific stuff, then similar stuff every election).

    My point though, what was different this time was the penis v. clitoris issue. (The gender gap expanded a lot, not because HRC did well with women, but because she got killed by men – black men, hispanic men – people who usually vote Democratic).

  31. Monala says:

    @DrDaveT: Maybe. They were okay with little white kids being slaughtered at Sandy Hook, since caring would mean doing more about gun control. Since then, a fair number of them have gone off the Alex Jones deep end, harassing and threatening the parents of the murdered kids, saying it was all a lie and a hoax.

  32. Monala says:

    @charon: Clinton wasn’t killed by Black and Latino men. She received 82% and 63% of their vote, respectively (and 89% and 66% of the votes from all Black and Latinx voters). That’s fewer than voted for Obama, of course, but not fewer than for prior Democratic nominees.

    I can’t find race + gender breakdowns for earlier elections, but in 2004, 88% of all Black voters and 53% of all Latinx voters voted for Kerry. So it’s likely that a comparable number of Black men voted for Bush as for Trump, and more Latino men voted for Bush.

  33. charon says:

    And, by the way, regarding racism – there was as much racism visible tn the 2012 exit polls as there was in 2016, that is not what changed.

  34. Joe says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’m still not sure exactly what happened.

    Donald Trump simply understood his constituency better than McCain or Romney or the Republican establishment. While McCain or Romney might have thought they could shepherd what Republicans have become, Trump has the same clear understanding of his constituency that a wolf has of sheep.

  35. Modulo Myself says:

    The bigger question is what the GOP does the day after Trump loses this election. He’s probably going to lose and lose in a humiliating and degrading way. The GOP isn’t following some exemplary human who turned to racism here because he loved the Real America so much. Charles Lindbergh was a hero who happened to be a fascist. There’s a way for followers of heroes to back off and to point to why they were seduced. Trump will not give an out to his followers. He’s not going to give his followers the luxury to melt back into the crowd. They can’t point to anything–not 9/11, not Vietnam, not hippies.

  36. Kylopod says:

    @Joe:

    Donald Trump simply understood his constituency better than McCain or Romney or the Republican establishment.

    The problem with that argument is that there were several candidates in the 2012 cycle who were playing for those types of voters. There was Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, and Michelle Bachmann. All had periods where they dominated the polls. Trump himself, while he never officially entered the race, led the field for several months during the first half of 2011. Then something happened which never happened four years later: his support completely collapsed. PPP called it “one of the quickest rises and falls in the history of Presidential politics.”

    One crucial difference with 2016 was that there was only one Romney–so he had the “establishment” lane all to himself (especially after the implosion of Rick Perry and the failure of Tim Pawlenty or Jon Huntsman to gain any traction). The “right-wing insurgent” lane, on the other hand, was clogged with candidates playing for those types of voters. (Perry tried unsuccessfully to bridge the divide.) So they just sort of canceled each other out.

    The situation was very nearly reversed in 2016: the “establishment” this time was clogged with candidates, from Scott Walker to Jeb Bush to Marco Rubio to Chris Christie to John Kasich. Mainstream GOP operatives basically just sat on their hands until it was too late. On the other side, there was Trump, there was Cruz, and there was Carson (who after a brief burst never gained much traction). The problem with attributing Trump’s dominance to a superior understanding of GOP voters is that he never commanded a majority of the vote, and there’s evidence he would have faltered if he hadn’t been running in what was literally the most crowded primary field in modern history up to that point. A poll in Feb. 2016 found that when Republicans were asked to choose between Trump and Rubio in a head-to-head match-up, Rubio beat Trump by double digits. So Trump’s rivals were apparently becoming “spoilers” for one another. In fact Trump didn’t win an absolute majority of the vote in a single state until nearly three months into the primaries, by which point he’d already accumulated enough delegates that he was basically unstoppable. You can choose to believe that he would have easily vanquished a Rubio or Kasich in a one-on-one contest, but we’ll never know because it was never tested.

  37. DrDaveT says:

    @Monala:

    Maybe. They were okay with little white kids being slaughtered at Sandy Hook, since caring would mean doing more about gun control.

    I’ve thought about this, and I think the key difference has to do with ‘events’ versus ‘situations’.

    By the time anyone was talking about policy with regard to Sandy Hook, the actual event was over. There was nothing you could do at that point for those kids, and it was reasonably easy for the gun-fondlers to pretend that nothing anyone could possibly do would prevent future similar events.

    The kids in cages are still there, waiting for someone to come to their rescue. It’s not too late to help them. I am reasonably certain that the urge to do something would be stronger if they were blond and freckled.