Just because Republicans should lose does not mean they will
We’re less than 11 months from the most important election of our lifetime and the polls mean almost nothing at this point.
But that doesn’t mean that we can’t note that given the demographic challenges conservatives have created for themselves, the sight of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz as the favorite of primary voters is basically a living nightmare for the Republican party’s long-term investors.
The Center for American Progress put together a report on the 2016 election and found that unless the GOP makes significant inroads with minorities, it needs to do as well as it did with non-college-educated white voters in 2014 and improve on Mitt Romney’s performance with college-educated white people.
“Let’s say the Democrats do get 78 percent of the minority vote,” the study’s lead analyst Ruy Teixeira told Greg Sargent. “We find that the white non-college support for the Republican could actually go up substantially — to the 30 point margin Republicans won in 2014 — and the Democrats would still win the popular vote nationally, if they held their white college support.”
Trump is showing why appealing to those without a college education while growing the party’s appeal to college-educated voters may be impossible.
The white identity politics and brutishness that make Trump so appealing to scared white voters is incredibly alienating and a little terrifying to those who are shocked by a sort of demagoguery America has not seen in a national figure since George Wallace.
And perhaps the only candidate who could do worse with women voters overall is Ted Cruz — who has proffered a theory that he as president would immediately eliminate the reproductive rights guaranteed by Roe v. Wade by abolishing abortion through the 14th amendment.
Whoever Republicans nominate needs to do better than Romney with minorities and white voters with and without degrees. With Trump alienating anyone who has ever read a book that wasn’t by Ben Carson and Cruz creeping along to the point where he admits that he too is for mass deportations, that seems impossible — but it’s not.
Not at all.
We should never, ever expect that Republicans will get what they deserve.
I even hesitate to point to Democrats’ structural advantages at all given what we know and what we don’t know.
We don’t know what sort of external shock could hit America next year. It could be a financial crisis or a terrorist attack — or just something like Ebola that’s a real crisis somewhere else and a useful menace at home. We don’t know if Democrats will be wooed into the sort of self-destructive ennui that caused many of us to conflate Al Gore with George W. Bush. We have no idea what the first presidential election without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act will look like.
The only thing scarier than what we don’t know is what we do know.
Matthew Dowd explained the stakes of the 2016 election like this:
Reasonable worst case scenario for the GOP: they lose the presidential race, lose control of the United States Senate by a few votes, lose a few seats in the House of Representatives but retain control, and retain a majority of governor’s and state legislative bodies.
Reasonable best case scenario for the GOP: they win the presidential race, expand control of the Senate, retain control of the House, and expand majority of governor’s and state legislative bodies.
The “best case scenario” would then lead a Republican president a chance to appoint up to four Supreme Court Justices that be confirmed by a Republican Senate.
It’s control of the Court that Republican donors have determined is their last, best hope to unwind the advances of civil rights, the Great Society and the New Deal — since elected officials know they can’t get away with this kind of revanchism themselves and hope to win contested elections.
A victory for Democrats in 2016 is necessary not only to secure the gains of the Obama Administration but to preserve what is left of the middle class as we fight on for a real chance to redraw the electoral maps in 2020.
If conservatives win, their victory won’t just give them control of most of the states and all three branches of the federal government. It will mean that their half-century long quest to undo the twentieth century by dominating the Supreme Court will be nearly complete.
[Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr]