Republicans Still Don’t Get The Point Of The 2018 Election
The verdict of last month's elections was clear, but Republicans still don't seem to get it.
Chris Cillizza notes that Republicans still don’t seem to be getting the point of the 2018 elections:
After Republicans lost the 2012 presidential election, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus commissioned an election autopsy report — known as the “Growth and Opportunity Project” — to grapple with the demographic (and other) problems presented by the defeat.
Six years later, Republicans suffered another near-total loss: 39 seats and counting in the House, seven governor’s mansions and hundreds of seats in state legislatures across the country.|
Six years later, Republicans suffered another near-total loss: 39 seats and counting in the House, seven governor’s mansions and hundreds of seats in state legislatures across the country.
How did they handle this latest defeat? By changing absolutely nothing
This, from Jonathan Martin in the Sunday New York Times, is eye-opening stuff:
“Yet nearly a month after the election, there has been little self-examination among Republicans about why a midterm that had seemed at least competitive became a rout.
“President Trump has brushed aside questions about the loss of the chamber entirely, ridiculing losing incumbents by name, while continuing to demand Congress fund a border wall despite his party losing many of their most diverse districts. Unlike their Democratic counterparts, Republicans swiftly elevated their existing slate of leaders with little debate, signaling a continuation of their existing political strategy.”
This is, definitionally, whistling past the political graveyard. I’ll give you two reasons why:
1) In 2014, Republican House candidates carried suburban voters by 12 points over Democrats. In 2018? The suburban vote split evenly between the two parties: 49% each.
2) In 2014, Republicans lost among women 51% to 47%. In 2018? Republicans lost women by 19 points.
Those are not problems that will fix themselves. Nor are they problems that will simply go away when the 2020 presidential race starts. (Oh, who am I kidding?! It’s already started.)
So why aren’t Republicans doing anything about all of this? Fear, mostly. To acknowledge that the 2018 election was a bad one and that major course corrections are needed is to go against President Donald Trump and his preferred narrative about the last election, which goes basically like this: Everything is great!
As Cillizza goes on to note, Trump has so far refused to acknowledge the fact that the midterm elections were a repudiation of him, his demeanor as President, and the agenda that he and the Republicans on Capitol Hill have followed since January 20, 2017. Indeed, at the now infamous White House press conference the day after the election, Trump proclaimed “To be honest — I’ll be honest, I thought it was a — I thought it was a very close to complete victory.” The truth could not be further from the reality that the President apparently wants to create for himself.
Rather than the “complete victory” that Trump touted, Republicans saw themselves suffer a defeat of historic proportions. In the House of Representatives, Republicans have lost at least 39 seats with several more seats still undetermined, meaning that the total will likely be at or near 40 seats when all is said and done. This is comparable to the Election of 1974 when Republicans lost 49 seats in the House of Representatives, the most they have ever lost in one election cycle in the modern era. Of course, 2018 and 1974 are very different years. The biggest differences, of course is that forty-four years ago, the nation was faced with the beginnings of a cycle of slow economic growth and high inflation that would not be alleviated for another decade and with the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, which had seen the first Presidential resignation in American history in the face of what clearly would have been a case of impeachment and removal from office.
This year, by contrast, voters headed to the polls with a relatively healthy economy, expanded hiring, and rising wages. Under those circumstances, the fact that the GOP lost what at the end of the day will be close to forty seats is extraordinary and something that ought to cause Republicans around the country to evaluate the future of their party. In addition to these losses, the GOP also suffered loses at the Gubernatorial and state legislative levels, where Democratic pickups are likely to help that party in the redistricting battles that will take place after the 2020 Census. Yes, the GOP did gain seats in the Senate, but those are seats where they were heavily favored from the start of the year, and it’s also worth noting that they lost seats in Nevada and Arizona that are likely harbingers of those two states becoming much more competitive in future Presidential elections. Far from being a “complete victory,” 2018 ought to be seen by Republicans as an even more alarming year than 2012 when they lost the Presidency along with eight seats in the House and two seats in the Senate. If that election prompted an autopsy, which of course the GOP never bothered to follow up on anyway, what happened last month should cause Republican to take a good long look in the mirror and reflect on what their party has turned into. The fact that they most likely won’t do this says everything about the current state of the GOP that needs to be said.