Is the GOP disappearing? Going the way of the dodo? Probably.
Jonathan Chait looks at the coming extinction of the Republican party. There! I knew we could find something out there to cheer us up!
The modern GOP—the party of Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushes—is staring down its own demographic extinction. Right-wing warnings of impending tyranny express, in hyperbolic form, well-grounded dread: that conservative America will soon come to be dominated, in a semi-permanent fashion, by an ascendant Democratic coalition hostile to its outlook and interests. And this impending doom has colored the party’s frantic, fearful response to the Obama presidency. ...NYMag
Part of this has to do with whiteness in a world that is increasingly diverse. Like it or not, the GOP is the party of the white -- not just the white in skin color, but a white team that feels increasing pressure for space and power from the rest of the shades of color in America and the world.
Obama’s election was the vindication of a prediction made several years before by journalist John Judis and political scientist Ruy Teixeira in their 2002 book, The Emerging Democratic Majority. Despite the fact that George W. Bush then occupied the White House, Judis and Teixeira argued that demographic and political trends were converging in such a way as to form a natural-majority coalition for Democrats. The Republican Party had increasingly found itself confined to white voters, especially those lacking a college degree and rural whites who, as Obama awkwardly put it in 2008, tend to “cling to guns or religion.” Meanwhile, the Democrats had increased their standing among whites with graduate degrees, particularly the growing share of secular whites, and remained dominant among racial minorities. As a whole, Judis and Teixeira noted, the electorate was growing both somewhat better educated and dramatically less white, making every successive election less favorable for the GOP. ...NYMag
Some events -- "war, recession, or scandal" are bound to slow the change down to a crawl. But not stop it.
...The dominant fact of the new Democratic majority is that it has begun to overturn the racial dynamics that have governed American politics for five decades. Whatever its abstract intellectual roots, conservatism has since at least the sixties drawn its political strength by appealing to heartland identity politics. In 1985, Stanley Greenberg, then a political scientist, immersed himself in Macomb County, a blue-collar Detroit suburb where whites had abandoned the Democratic Party in droves. He found that the Reagan Democrats there understood politics almost entirely in racial terms, translating any Democratic appeal to economic justice as taking their money to subsidize the black underclass. And it didn’t end with the Reagan era. Piles of recent studies have found that voters often conflate “social” and “economic” issues. What social scientists delicately call “ethnocentrism” and “racial resentment” and “ingroup solidarity” are defining attributes of conservative voting behavior, and help organize a familiar if not necessarily rational coalition of ideological interests. Doctrines like neoconservative foreign policy, supply-side economics, and climate skepticism may bear little connection to each other at the level of abstract thought. But boiled down to political sound bites and served up to the voters, they blend into an indistinguishable stew of racial, religious, cultural, and nationalistic identity. Obama’s election dramatized the degree to which this long-standing political dynamic had been flipped on its head. ...NYMag
The Republican party has been basking in the warmth of its 2010 win. But changes in the makeup of voters continue. Hispanics for example, a growing and political powerful near majority, dislike the GOP and began to detest them in 2010. For this and other reasons, the November election is very, very important for that party.
If they can claw out a presidential win and hold on to Congress, they will have a glorious two-year window to restore the America they knew and loved, to lock in transformational change, or at least to wrench the status quo so far rightward that it will take Democrats a generation to wrench it back. The cost of any foregone legislative compromises on health care or the deficit would be trivial compared to the enormous gains available to a party in control of all three federal branches.
On the other hand, if they lose their bid to unseat Obama, they will have mortgaged their future for nothing at all. And over the last several months, it has appeared increasingly likely that the party’s great all-or-nothing bet may land, ultimately, on nothing. In which case, the Republicans will have turned an unfavorable outlook into a truly bleak one in a fit of panic. The deepest effect of Obama’s election upon the Republicans’ psyche has been to make them truly fear, for the first time since before Ronald Reagan, that the future is against them. ...NYMag
The Republican party depends, then, on the white working class vote. The candidate favored by the party's establishment -- Mitt Romney -- is not doing at all well with that sector.
New Post polling out this morning underscores the depths of his difficulties. It finds that Romney’s favorability rating nationally is at just 37 percent among conservative Republicans and independents with incomes of under $50,000, versus 40 percent of them who view him unfavorably. Rick Santorum performs better with this group, but since Romney is still the likely nominee, this isn’t really about Sanorum; it’s about Romney’s long term prospects. ...Greg Sargent
Sargent quotes Matthew Dowd, the Republican pollster, on the Michigan outcome:
“If Rick Santorum wins tonight it’s the equivalent of a 9.0 on a Richter scale. I mean it is going to shake Washington, it’s going to shake Republican establishment it’s just going to shake things to their very core. And I think what you’re going to see are the conversations that have been going on behind quiet doors saying we need another candidate in this race.” ...Sargent