In the fall of 2016, I was having a discussion with a Republican friend who was a fan of nominee Donald Trump. We discussed the pros and cons of a Trump/Clinton administration and how they may affect the nation both positively and negatively. Unlike many Democrats, I was not convinced that the election was an easy win for Hillary Clinton. She had run one of the worst campaigns since Michael Dukakis in 1988. No visit to Wisconsin? Millions spent in Texas? This was political mismanagement at a historic level. As we wound down the conversation, I admitted to my friend that Trump had a chance to win, but I issued a warning as well. The only thing worse for the Republican Party than a Trump nomination, I said, would be a Trump Administration.
In 2012, the Republican Party conducted an expansive study of its loss to Barack Obama. The now infamous “post-mortem” correctly surmised that the Republican Party’s lack of appeal to young and minority voters was an issue that could, in a generation or two, turn the GOP into a permanent minority. Trump was the embodiment of all of the things that hurt the party in 2012 and beyond…hostile to Hispanics, virtually no understanding of or appeal to black voters, LGBT voters, or female voters, suspicious of education, ignorant of science, and angry. Oh so angry!
In the short term, this created an interesting paradigm in the GOP. Voters who traditionally stayed home because no one gave their conspiracy-theory, white supremacist talking points any attention suddenly became Trump primary voters and they remain among his most loyal supporters. Evangelical Christians were told literally anything they wanted to hear by the Trump campaign and displayed a remarkable lack of discernment in believing it. Even today, evangelicals cannot point to one solitary policy achievement under Trump, nor a single Christ-like quality, but he lies to them about what he has done and they swoon unquestioningly. When you add those groups to the far-right conservatives and the Republicans who will never vote against the party for any reason, it created quite a coalition in 2016. That coalition is also capable of winning in 2020.
What the GOP has lost is also substantial, and possibly devastating. The Democratic Party switched 40 seats from blue to red in 2018, not by appealing to some “socialism” boogeyman, but by talking openly about finding solutions to America’s problems. They talked about common-sense solutions on gun control, immigration, health care, wealth inequality, climate change, and more. In return for presenting intelligent and thoughtful solutions to the voters, the Democrats saw great success. They can, and should, build on that going forward. Democratic advantages with minority voters and young voters grew even larger. But some traditionally Republican voters began to move as well. College-educated voters and suburban females (aka “soccer moms”) began to move from the R column to the D column…and that trend continues.
In national polling this spring from the Gallup organization, 66% of Independent voters disapproved of the Trump presidency. But wait there’s more! 66% of women voters disapprove, 67% of college graduates, 82% of nonwhite voters, 62% of suburban voters, and 72% of voters under 30. Here’s the link.
The GOP is exposed. They can no longer claim to be what they are not. The nation is watching them…coddling white supremacists, locking kids in cages, resisting the call of over 90% of Americans for common-sense gun legislation, working to take choice away from all women, denying climate change, destroying public education, cutting taxes on the wealthy, using the federal government as a personal campaign weapon, obstructing justice, and unapologetically lying at a historic rate. The presidency of Donald Trump is well on its way to rendering the Republican Party obsolete. Keep it up!
Jeremy Jeffcoat is an Alexander City resident and former candidate for Alabama House District 81.