A Death That Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

It was natural for conservatives and Republicans to take stock of where they stood culturally and politically in light of the results of the presidential election last November, as well as the losses sustained in otherwise winnable Senate races. That being said, the incessant navel gazing that has been going on for the better part of seven months has reached a breaking point.

While it’s true that there are ill portents stemming from the election, the post-election analysis implying the imminent demise of the GOP made more sense in 2008 than in 2012. In 2008 the GOP was coming off of a second consecutive thrashing in a national election, with Democrats in full control of both chambers of Congress, and Barack Obama having won the presidency by a comfortable (though hardly historical when compared to bigger blowouts) margin. In the past few months I’ve read a lot of eulogies coming from both the left and right. On the comments to this post from Stacy McCain one individual chimed in thusly.

If he’s wrong, why are Republicans always losing and the Republican-led Congress has it’s lowest approval rating in history now?

The second part of the sentence isn’t really germane to this post – though I would suggest that Congressional approval ratings are ultimately meaningless and have proven to have no value in assessing the electoral landscape.

As for the first part of the sentence, I wonder – have people forgotten the results of just about every election between 2008 and 2012? Republicans never win elections? Well, other than winning gubernatorial races in both Virginia and New Jersey in 2009, a special Senate election in Massachusetts in 2010, a truly historical landslide blowout in the 2010 midterms, and retaining a majority of House seats in 2012, yeah the GOP just never wins elections.

A party that is on its deathbed should not have the electoral record that the GOP has had in recent years. We’re not talking about the Whigs circa 1852 or even the GOP circa 1934 here. Consider for the moment that currently 30 of 50 state governors are Republicans, and that the GOP has outright legislative majorities in both Houses in 28 states, and control of at least one house in several others. Oh, and there’s that pesky House of Representatives where the GOP currently has a majority that isn’t going anywhere fast.

The problem with viewing electoral politics completely through the prism of presidential elections is that it neglects a view of the country as a whole. 

Only a fool would suggest that there aren’t reasons for the Republicans to be concerned, particularly when one looks at shifting demographics. But the narrative that the GOP is completely and irrevocably hopeless electorally is simply wrong.