Sunday, January 10, 2016


In The New York Times today, Patrick Healy and Jonath Martin report on fretful Republicans:
For Republicans, Mounting Fears of Lasting Split

The Republican Party is facing a historic split over its fundamental principles and identity, as its once powerful establishment grapples with an eruption of class tensions, ethnic resentments and mistrust among working-class conservatives who are demanding a presidential nominee who represents their interests.

At family dinners and New Year’s parties, in conference calls and at private lunches, longtime Republicans are expressing a growing fear that the coming election could be shattering for the party, or reshape it in ways that leave it unrecognizable....

Never have so many voters been attracted to Republican candidates like Donald J. Trump and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who are challenging core party beliefs on the economy and national security and new goals like winning over Hispanics through immigration reform....

The issues animating grass-roots voters -- opposition to immigration, worries about wages and discomfort with America’s fast-changing demographics -- are diverging from and at times colliding with the Republican establishment’s interests in free trade, lower taxes, less regulation and openness to immigration.
Sorry, but that's not nearly enough to lead to a permanent rift between the rank-and-file and the party elites. The GOP rank-and-file may not prioritize decreased regulation or lower taxes on the rich, but mention deregulation in a speech, or lower taxes in general, and you'll get cheers even from angry Trump or Cruz backers. And while Trump and Cruz may not pass every neoconservative litmus test, their stated desire to "bomb the shit out of" ISIS or "carpet bomb" Islamic State strongholds ought to reassure Sheldon Adelson -- the proles are absolutely not going isolationist.

That leaves free trade, on which, yes, there's a prole-elite split, but not enough of one to animate a voter revolt. No, the source of the rank-and-file revolt is anger at immigration -- and the party has had that tension for years, at least since the revolt against George W. Bush's effort to pass immigration reform, and the GOP has won quite a few elections in spite of it.

What worries the elites is this:
... party leaders like Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina say Republicans are in a “demographic death spiral” and will not survive unless they start appealing to Hispanics and young people....
That may be true long-term, but in the short run, polls say any race pitting Clinton or Sanders against Trump or Cruz would be as tight as Obama-Romney, and no lock for the Democrats. And, really, why not? In off-year elections in the Obama era, white voters outside the South have been voting GOP almost like white Southerners. Why do we assume this will automatically stop in a presidential year? If whites turn increasingly Republican, that's going to keep future contests competitive no matter how offputting the GOP is to non-whites. It will probably save the Senate for the GOP. It may even win the White House for the party, given the low favorable ratings of the Democratic presidential front-runner.

If, with Trump or Cruz at the top of the ticket, the GOP finds a way to hold Congress and remain competitive in the presidential race, elite fears will vanish. They'll look for a way to hold the angry voters in the future with dog whistles rather than overt appeals to hate - in other words, they'll look to run Richard Nixon in '68 after running Barry Goldwater in '64.

We all know that in the aftermath of Goldwater's landslide defeat, the GOP won five of the next six presidential elections, as the party's presidential candidates found ways to appeal to his voters without alienating too many people in the middle. But even before that, in the 1966 midterms, the GOP gained 47 House seats and 3 seats in the Senate. Extremism rarely hurts the Republican Party for very long.

Post-2016 elections will probably look just like 2014, when the GOP Establishment gave grooming lessons to some extremists (e.g., Joni Ernst) and plenty of old-line Establishment candidates -- Lindesy Graham, Lamar Alexander, Mitch McConnell -- won reelection. Voting GOP is part of white tribalism. That won't change anytime soon.


Victor said...

Sadly, how righ... correct you are, Steve!

The fears, hatreds, resentments, and thus, bigotry, of white people, are what has been driving the GOP for over a half century now.
And it's not as if they've had no successes in the past 50 years!

Now, thanks to the vote suppression in some key states, even a snarling bigot like Trump, or "Christian" zealot and demagogue like Cruz, can see a path to victory.

If either of them win, they'll fundamentally change the America we grew up in, and make it look like the early 20th Century one.
Only there'll be no Teddy Roosevelt. Only Ted Cruz.


Swellsman said...

I dunno -- I understand what the polls are saying now, but I'm also looking at the electoral demographics for 2016. I'm also reading Perlstein's "Before the Storm", about the rise of Barry Goldwater.

The Draft Goldwater movement was based on a Southern Strategy (which the GOP, of course, would go on to pursue relentlessly), which argued that the GOP nomination could be clinched without worrying about New York and the Northeast, and by simply writing off black voters. According to Perlstein, a conservative responding to complaints "we'd be the apartheid party," explained: "This isn't South Africa, the white man outnumbers the Negro 9 to 1." Of course, that may have been true back then, but it certainly isn't true now.

And I know, I know . . . people have been predicting the GOP's demographic demise for a long time now. But still . . . every four years, the white percentage of the electorate does decrease by about 2%. In 2016, it is predicted to be only 70% of the national vote. Even if the Republicans can capture 60% of the white vote - something that neither party has accomplished since Reagan ran for re-election in 1984 - they'd still have to capture 30% of the non-white vote.

Don't mistake me . . . I'm certainly not arguing for complacency in the presidential election; the Dems still do need to make the effort to GOTV - nothing is inevitable. And, to be sure, even though in a national contest the demographics are promising, it certainly isn't the case that this is going to have much of an impact on the carefully gerrymandered congressional districts. The Dems won't be taking back the House this year. Finally, all of the above presupposes that the GOP's ongoing voter suppression efforts are not overly effective - never a safe supposition.

Still, I keep looking at the changing face of the America electorate, and the relentless march of the numbers cheers my considerably.

Steve M. said...

But still . . . every four years, the white percentage of the electorate does decrease by about 2%. In 2016, it is predicted to be only 70% of the national vote. Even if the Republicans can capture 60% of the white vote - something that neither party has accomplished since Reagan ran for re-election in 1984 - they'd still have to capture 30% of the non-white vote.

Well, whites already capture 60% of the white vote (actually 59% in 2012, according to the exit polls -- see here). I'm talking about improving on that, while nonwhites either feel less motivated to vote or (because of the GOP vote suppression schemes) can't vote. And all that seems feasible for the GOP. said...

There was a Sean Trende article in 2013 I believe about how there were 5-8 million white northern working class voters who did not come out to vote in 2012 because they found the plutocrat Romney unattractive and the Republican economic agenda (low taxes, free trade, deregulation, and "reforming" social security and medicare) not in their interest. Also, they did not believe Romney on immigration. He wrote that a candidate more attuned to their interests and resentments could get them out to vote and boost the White Republican vote so much that they could disregard the Hispanic vote as much as they disregard the Black vote. Cruz and Trump appear to be such candidates. Hilary will have to run a hell of a campaign, in the teeth of a lot MSM media types like Maureen Dowd and Ron Fournier who hate her guts, to get close to Obama's 2012 voting numbers and electoral college numbers. She is already losing in Iowa, Wisonsin, and Colorado, all states Obama won.

Palli said...

Is this the GOP plan?
1. Announce brokered convention DONE
2. Continue rabble-rousing debates (while conducting under the table bargaining with candidates for cabinet posts, i.e.VP, Carson Surgeon General, etc. & distribution of campaign $...)
3. Unity plea @ convention (Mitt's role as senior "statesman")
4. Gov Walker announces WI as Fav. Son Ryan (wonderful coincidence since WI is so far down the alphabet & it all harkens to the grand old conference custom for states' rights pretense & honors Teabagger Govs)
5. Speaker Paul Ryan is GOP Presidential Nominee

Ryan won't wait for 2nd term challenge-Dem or GOP president, too chancy/disloyal). He could/cannot succeed as Speaker & everyone knew/knows it. After the failed VP run, Ryan is not going to waste this opportunity to be the voice of tomorrow's GOP. Accepting the Speakership was only to renew his visibility & enhance credibility as 3rd in line to be President. If republican electronic ballot tabulation fraud targets are underestimated because voter participation is higher than anticipated, Ryan could lose the presidential election without losing stature as GOP House leader. (He doesn't need to relinquish his WI Rep campaign to run as Pres). However with luck, better leadership than Wasserman & insufficient republican ballot tabulation fraud, he could lose the Speakership too.

I suspect the nomination guarantee was a non-public requirement (not open to negociation) before accepting "temp" job as House Speaker.

GOP needs to script surprise & drama into GOP celebration because the entertainment value of debates has upped the ante and conventions have lost viewers, i.e. airtime for advertisers who are GOP patrons.

Outside convention hall American Protestors will be attacked by CLE police & GOP Private Security.

Ten Bears said...

Not a gambin' man (didn't even but a lottery ticket last night*), I'm willing to bet a punt at the Pub we are witnessing, in painful slow motion, the end of the republic party.

Don't cum all over yourselves, it may be the end of the democrat as well.

* There's a couple paragraphs up at (not necessarily a fan) Lawyers, Guns and Money about the lottery... in 1984.

Ten Bears said...

Stupid smart phone. A pint, at the Pub. And no, I didn't but a lottery ticket, I didn't buy one.

See again, 1984.

Sincerely, not nice.

Ten Bears said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chai T. Ch'uan said...

A character in one of Iain Banks' novels once theorized that conservatives - right-wing people in general - tend to think everybody's as nasty, as selfish, deep down as they are. Only they're wrong. And liberals, socialists and so on like to think everybody else is as nice, basically, as they themselves are. They're wrong too.

Professor Chaos said...

Extremism never hurts them for long because by the next election cycle what was extreme has become mainstream.