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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

 

After 2017’s election night, the Republicans are on the brink of falling apart as a national party—and everybody who has been around politics longer than President Trump knows it.

Ed Gillespie’s resounding loss in Tuesday’s Virginia governor’s race—coupled with a series of other losses in lower-profile races around the country—will likely take what was bubbling concern among Republicans about their prospects in the 2018 midterms and transform it into a frothing cauldron of panic,” wrote Chris Cillizza, CNN’s editor-at-large and a longtime Washington analyst. “That panic is born not from the fact of Gillespie’s defeat but the way in which he lost—and the role President Donald Trump and Trumpism played in that loss.”

As bad as the results were for Republicans on Tuesday (Democrats won two governors’ races as well as legislative majorities in several states, and elected a deep bench of progressives to mayoral and other down-ballot posts), Trump’s response in the aftermath will only make matters worse for the GOP.

First, Trump tweeted that Gillespie didn’t follow his cues. “Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for,” Trump said. That’s false, because Gillespie did what Republicans across the country thought was their best strategy: embrace Trumpism but not Donald Trump. Gillespie defended Confederate monuments, made racist attacks against Latin Americans (by accusing youths of being gang members), and pledged to outlaw sanctuary cities and repeal the restoration of voting to ex-felons.

What did the president do next? His administration Wednesday issued its latest Cuba sanctions, alienating many Latinos, who according to exit polls, turned out to vote in record numbers in Virginia on Tuesday.

Trump isn’t going to change course. Neither is his base, nor its stalwart supporters. On Steve Bannon’s Breitbart.com, Wednesday morning’s lineup completely ignored Tuesday’s results. Instead, there was a gamut of stories revving up nostalgia for Trump’s victory a year ago. The lead story was, “November 8, 2016: The Untold Story of Breitbart’s Election Night.” Down the page was its preview of Virginia’s governor’s race, instead of coverage of the results. “The contest between the two milquetoast and uninspiring establishment candidates represents nearly everything voters hate about politics,” Breitbart claimed.

Outside Trumplandia, as many Republicans and political observers know, the opposite is true. A majority of Virginia voters rejected Trump’s divisive politics and embraced competent governing—or the prospect of it. The conservative National Review’s Jim Geraghty put this rejection of Trumpism as bluntly as any seasoned Republican.

“If last night had brought a routine disappointment for Republicans—say, the statewide candidates losing by a few points and only a handful of state assembly seats flipping to the Democrats—the ‘blame Trump’ argument would be weaker,” Geraghty wrote. “But last night was the worst night for Republicans in Virginia in a long time. Gillespie lost by the worst margin for a Republican gubernatorial candidate in the state since 1985. No GOP statewide candidate hit 48 percent. Perhaps more significantly, Republicans entered Election Day with a 17-seat margin in the state assembly and lost at least 13, with seven seats too close to call this morning.” (By midday Wednesday, Democrats had won 15 of those seats, including 11 by women candidates.)

What’s apparent to Republicans who haven’t drunk the Trump-Breitbart-Fox News Kool-Aid is that Trumpism and following the party’s white nationalist fringe is a recipe for sending the GOP into the wilderness. Trump-style extremism may help copycats win low-turnout primaries to get onto fall ballots. But it’s increasingly apparent that such extremism is a formula for losing in the general election.

CNN’s Cillizza, who used to write the Washington Post’s Fix column handicapping candidates, noted Gillespie’s Trump-like messaging completely failed in the party’s wealthier northern Virginia suburbs, which are like many GOP strongholds across America. David Wasserman, the U.S. House editor for the Cook Political Report, noted that Trump’s messaging also failed in Richmond and the suburbs around Hampton Roads, which are conservative and home to nearby military bases. As a result, six of 10 Virginians told exit pollsters they strongly disapproved of the job Trump is doing—that is, his style, his substance and his accomplishments.

“There’s simply no way to explain the demolition of Gillespie in the suburbs and exurbs other than a strong distaste for Trump among those voters,” Cillizza said. “And, for all of the caveats and the don’t-read-too-much-into-one-race-ism by the ‘smart’ political reporters, the simple fact is that every single Republican politician in the halls of Congress will be paying very close attention to what happened in Virginia Tuesday night and wondering what it all means for them.” He continued:

“What it means—at least as of today—is this: Trump remains a potent and powerful force in Republican primaries. But, he is a potentially toxic taint with the broader general electorate. Which puts Republicans—especially those facing potentially serious primary challenges or who sit in swing districts in the general election—in a no-win position. Run away from Trump and risk losing your primary fight. Run with Trump and risk losing the general election. Badly.”

This no-win frame—that standing with Trump will be an electoral death knell in next November’s federal elections—was also seen in results outside Virginia. In New Jersey, where voters were tired of the antics of another GOP bully, outgoing Gov. Chris Christie, Democrats won a complete lock on legislative and executive branch power. In Maine, where another red belligerent is governor, voters said no to dismantling Obamacare and voted to expand Maine’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act.

Further affirmation that Trumpism is turning the Republican Party into a sinking electoral Titanic comes from Congress, where a growing list of mainstream conservatives are retiring. New Jersey Rep. Frank LoBiondo announced his departure Tuesday, saying “those of us who came to Congress to change Washington for the better through good governance are now outliers.”

For Democrats, whose party is as internally divided as the Republicans, Tuesday’s results were the first good political news in a year (apart from the deepening Trump campaign-Russian collusion quagmire). However, Democrats, who were quick to send out fundraising missives on Tuesday once the size of the day’s blue wave became evident, need to get their party’s act together. At least on a national level, the Democratic National Committee has done little to encourage the party’s large Berniecrat wing, which elected 46 percent of the delegates to the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

But before cynicism takes hold, ponder the big takeaways from 2017’s general election. It was a night of unexpectedly good results for anti-Trump voters. The Republican Party, whether Breitbart or Fox News says it or not, is heading into a panicky downward spiral. And most important of all, large numbers of voters in a non-presidential year want to be heard and are turning out.

That wasn’t supposed to happen in Virginia—not under the GOP’s watch. Virginia is one of the most heavily gerrymandered states in the country. In 2011, the Republicans, who then controlled their legislature, drew state and U.S. House election districts to create red supermajorities. That step, coupled with passing more restrictive voter ID requirements to get a ballot, gave most GOP candidates a roughly 10 point starting line advantage over Democrats (outside of seats they were going to win). On Tuesday night, statewide voter turnout was up 16 percent, compared to 2013. That’s an incredible turnout and one not predicted by pollsters.

Look at the result. In Virginia, the GOP went into Election Day with a 17-seat majority in its lower legislative chamber. Democrats took back 15 of those seats, electing many women. Another five seats were too close to call as of Wednesday, suggesting that no matter who is declared the winner, recounts will ensue. Fortunately, Virginia votes on paper ballots or computers with printouts, meaning there is a record that can be examined. Nobody expected a Democratic turnaround of that magnitude before Tuesday.

Election Day 2017 showed that voters have something to say and want to express it. In the meantime, it doesn’t appear that Republicans are capable of changing course away from Trump and Trumpism between now and 2018. Those who want to turn away, as Cillizza said, will be facing “a frothing cauldron of panic.” Whether Democrats seize that opportunity is an open question. But no matter what the opposition party does, big numbers of Americans surely will be watching and voting in 2018.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s democracy and voting rights. He is the author of several books on elections and the co-author of Who Controls Our Schools: How Billionaire-Sponsored Privatization Is Destroying Democracy and the Charter School Industry (AlterNet eBook, 2016).

 

 

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17 responses to “Post-Election, GOP Is A ‘Frothing Cauldron Of Panic’”

  1. FireBaron says:

    A year is a long time for people to really screw up. I predict both parties will do just that in the coming months. As more of their constituents are starting to realize that Obamacare gave them their first reasonable comprehensive health care in decades, and that the GOP tax plan does them zip-point-bupkes good, many sitting Republicans may find themselves collecting their guaranteed pensions sooner than expected.

    • Shannon says:

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  2. PrecipitousDrop says:

    The GOP has good reason to panic.
    34 sealed cases have been filed in federal District Court for the District of Columbia since October 27th (when Manafort was indicted). Another 50 sealed indictments were filed in East District of Virginia yesterday. https://lawnewz.com/high-profile/rumors-swirl-about-mueller-probe-after-34-sealed-cases-filed-in-d-c-federal-court/ There is no reason to presume they’re all related to Mueller’s investigation — just as there is no reason to presume none of them are.
    Then there is the problem of Alabama’s Roy Moore. Both of the elections that Roy Moore ever won in his life were for state Supreme Court, both elections were lower than average turnout, and he was removed from the bench both times. The decent, secular voters of Alabama are energized by Tuesday’s results. Republican women, and every Republican man who is related to a woman, are having second thoughts. The special election in December will tell the tale.
    Just in time for the GOP majority congress to stall over DACA, failing tax reform, and increasing the debt ceiling.

    • Independent1 says:

      Yes, the GOP tax reform plan seems to be getting a lot of negative press – even the thought of reducing tax revenues with America’s current debt load.

      See this from the WaPo’s Jennifer Rubin:

      The most compelling criticism of Trump tax plan

      An excerpt:

      Others agree that the debt accumulation essentially cancels out any economic benefit. Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan argues, “We are premature on fiscal stimulus, whether it’s tax cuts or expenditure increases. We’ve got to get the debt stabilized before we can even think of those terms. … Economically, it’s a mistake to deal with sharp reductions in taxes now.” His warning can be understood as an admonition about both a growing mound of debt and the downside of using debt-creating tax breaks now, when the economy is humming along. If we face an economic downturn in the next couple of years, we’ll have fewer anti-recession tools at our disposal.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/11/13/the-most-compelling-criticism-of-trump-tax-plan/?utm_term=.3498e7788938&wpisrc=nl_popns&wpmm=1

      • ivory69690@yahoo.com says:

        when all said and done the greedy rich get the money in their pockets and the DEBT still rise’s to the $ TRILLIONS DUMP 45 tax plan only feeds the GREEDY and the rest of the people pay for it out of our hides

        • Independent1 says:

          And those greedy rich, including their lackies in Congress are failing to realize that what they are doing may give them quick riches now but may shorten their lives. These idiots have to walk around America and other places in the world just like we do, and they’re making America and the world a more dangerous place for everyone to live: with increased hatred, higher rates of all forms of crimes and more violent storms from nature that may destroy their homes and lives.

          There can be no greater idiots than today’s Republicans and the wealthy leeches that keep them in our government.

          • ivory69690@yahoo.com says:

            the Democrat’s will have to wear some kind of pin or hat to show thy are DEMS and not the GOPS that are in the cross hairs

          • ivory69690@yahoo.com says:

            heck the Nature’s violent storms and disasters are a cake walk in the park compared to what the DUMP 45 CLOWN &GOP will do to the country and the world

  3. Eleanore Whitaker says:

    If anyone has watched the Dems in Congressional meetings on CSpan every week, you see them let two quarts of blood from each wrist trying to have an “equal” voice. The reality is that the Republicans’ days of being the ONLY government voice is over.

    First off, they are losing female voters in droves. VA accomplished the placement of 22 women from their state in Congress. This adds to the 11 NH already added back in 2010.

    Then, there is the huge link between Republicans, billionaires and corporations that have all worked against this country since Reaganomics. We have NO desire to be fleeced again.

    Our children’s futures are at stake. All we heard for the 8 Obama years was bitching about the national debt and the “DEFICIT.” Now that they have virtually taken over the entire government, adding trillions to that “DEFICIT” is fine and dandy by them. Just not by us.

    The shockwaves the VA election sent to the GOP shouldn’t be a surprise. Their time has come and gone. Most of us want housecleaning and now with the huge number of women entering politics after what the GOP men did to Hillary, that housecleaning will be first on the list for 2018.

  4. Richard Prescott says:

    NJ elects a Dem governor, VA elects Dems to the top 3, NY re-elects a Dem governor for the first time in oh so many years. MD is challenging the rare Repub governor even though he is not that bad, but was elected because of all the lies downtown (read that as DC) and the current Dem governor not being that good.
    Approximately 13 GOP Congressmen and Senators have declared they will NOT run for re-election.
    Then there is Moore in AL in the upcoming special election, a real piece of work.
    Add to that the GOP’s incessant desire to enact both Health Care and Tax plans that favor the ultra rich. The incessant tear down America regardless if a replacement plan is even thought of.
    This is what the GOP is and has been for years. That is not counting all the bullcrap witch hunts that spent tons of money and got NOTHING in return. And Dumbo-in-Chief calls for 2 more ridiculous “investigations” of past fake news issues, as diversions for sealed indictments with more of those to come.
    The one thing I think we can thank the GOP for is that people now realize that they can step up and call out their past assailants and actually see some results.
    And the next calling out will be Nov 2018, as people have been shown what it means to play stupid and not vote even if you didn’t like the choices. The only ones not really flipped are those hard core Trumpsters, but it is really difficult to flip brain dead people.

    • PrecipitousDrop says:

      63 million voted for Trump in November 2016. It was 3 million fewer than his opponent, but not enough to sway the Electoral College.
      90 million didn’t vote at all.
      Tuesday’s results showed what those silent 90 million will do when they turn out to make a choice.

    • Independent1 says:

      One of the nice things about the recent Dem wins last Tuesday is that even some right-leaning people who normally are not predisposed to praise Democrats had good things to say about a Dem winning the governorship in VA; making it clear that there are still some good people on the right who are as concerned about where Donald Trump is leading America as the majority of us blogging here on the NM.

      I thought you might find this article by Jennifer Rubin who is a right-leaning contributor to the Washington Post who calls her contributions The Right Turn if you haven’t read it:

      Distinguished pol of the week

      “It was said that the eyes of the nation are now on the commonwealth,” Democratic Virginia Gov.-elect Ralph Northam said in his victory speech on Tuesday. “Today, Virginians have answered and spoken. Virginians have told us to end the divisiveness, that we will not condone hatred and bigotry, and to end the politics that have torn this country apart.” He continued, “We need to close the wounds that divide and bring unity to Virginia. Whether you voted for me or not, we are all Virginians. I hope to earn your confidence and support as we move forward. The Virginia way is to work together.”

      It was the voice of a distinctly un-Trumpian politician whose moderation and lack of charisma drew critics from the left of his party and sneers from the right. Despite fears the race was tightening, Northam kept his cool in the final days of the governor’s race and cruised to an impressive 9-point win. His victory gave Democrats a much needed lift and the country a sense of relief. Our politics can return to some sense of normalcy, if only concerned and informed voters turn out — as they did in droves, especially in Northern Virginia and Charlottesville, the site of the neo-Nazi rally that convulsed the country. Northam seemed to be in tune with the electorate on health care, the most critical issue for Virginia voters.

      Northam, the two other statewide Democratic victors and a slew of new Democrats in the House of Delegates now have achance to govern sensibly and constructively. Northam’s decency and grace will take him a long way, but he’ll also need to draw on his experience as a political insider to reach agreement with a near evenly-balanced House of Delegates and state senate with a narrow GOP majority.

      For all that and delivering on the promise of a saner, kinder style of politics, we can say, well done, Mr. Northam.

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2017/11/12/distinguished-pol-of-the-week-163/?utm_term=.0caf836eea53&wpisrc=nl_popns&wpmm=1

  5. Trump’s insistence that Gillespie lost because he “failed to embrace me” shows that Trump still suffers delusions of grandeur and still can’t figure out the difference between a Napoleoninc Autocracy he thinks he now presides over, as opposed to being a part of a Democracy.
    Anyway—the GOP is just a victim of its own rabid desire for dominance. There are serious consequences down the road for anyone over-zealous for control and who are power hungry.

  6. José Raymond Herrera says:

    The GOP is probably the last rales of the old white American guard before they get replaced for newest generations truly younger, more mixed and with broader horizons, speaking many languages, travelling a lot and at easy everywhere in the world. It’s the equivalent of the Brexiter in Britain. The difference is that the British burnt their future with the Referendum. Trump was just an election, others are coming.

  7. ivory69690@yahoo.com says:

    as it seems to be with Sessions and his (I DONT RECALL BULL ) the people can see him as a JOKE he is and the bigger FOOL he makes of himself more and more every day a JOKE ! it might be time for Al Franken to step in and pull a SNL skit asking Sessions how he gets home at night ? then Session will say I don’t understand the question ! then Al. can say well Sessions seems you cant recall so much one has to wonder when you get to your house you stand out side it for maybe hours worrying and wondering if you should try to go in for what could be on your mind is im not sure I live here I don’t recall r address !

  8. ivory69690@yahoo.com says:

    the issue here is that Harvey Weinstein no matter what happens with him in these cases he still has a job he can have . all he has to do is RUN FOR OFFICE more and more of his kind are getting into it or already moved into it you have THE DONNY DUMP CLOWN SHOW for short ( DUMP 45 ) then there’s ROY BOY MOORE . so he can have a in office gang to hang with . but by right this gang of perverts should be a gang behind bars

  9. ivory69690@yahoo.com says:

    Alabama Locals Say Roy Moore Was Banned From Mall For Harassing Teen Girls While the active ban list for Alabama’s Gadsden Mall doesn’t have records going back into the 1970s, numerous sources told the New Yorker that GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore was banned over his harassment of teenage girls.

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