While Republicans are busy comparing everything President Obama does to Watergate, they’re not only showing their complete lack of historical knowledge, they’re also ignoring the remarkable decline of their party.
In poll after poll, the percentage of adults who identify with the Republican Party continues to decline. (See the red line in this chart.) Today 3.5 percent fewer Americans identify with the GOP than in November of 2008, when the incredibly unpopular George W. Bush was still in office and President Obama had just been elected in a massive landslide.
A new CNN poll also finds that the Republican Party now has the highest unfavorable rating in the 20-year history of that poll.
There are a number of explanations for why the GOP is getting less popular every day. The most positive spin is that the party is experiencing growing pains as Republicans in Congress are making progress on one of the party’s top “outreach” priorities — immigration reform.
But the reality is that when the Oakland Republicans in Michigan are honoring unrepentant birther Donald Trump — who recently blamed sexual assault in the military, which mostly affects men, on women being allowed to serve — with invitations to speak, it’s clear the Republican Party of 2013 is the Republican Party of 2012.
The same self-destructive GOP that elected Mitt Romney to run against Mitt Romney’s health care plan is further purifying its ranks, driving away anyone who isn’t absolutely committed to denying climate change and/or opposed to compromising with President Obama. Instead of broadening their audience, they’re speaking only to themselves.
While the media is finally buying into the GOP’s scandal narrative, Republicans sound as angry as they did about the IRS controversy as they did about health care or the stimulus. After five years of attacking Obama, they still haven’t put together any positive message that can grow their party.
Here are five signs that they’ve learned nothing from 2012.
Photo credit: Gerald Herbert/AP
Even Worse Minority Outreach
The GOP 2012 autopsy advised the party to focus on outreach to minority groups. Soon a Republican congressman referred to Mexican workers as “wetbacks,” a panel at CPAC turned into white guys defending slavery, and a guy who wrote a dissertation about how Latinos are not as intelligent as white folk was releasing reports on immigration for the Heritage Foundation.
Pablo Pantoja, the Florida GOP’s minority outreach coordinator, had enough. He quit and registered as Democrat.
“I won’t mention names, but I did have conversations about immigration where increasingly I had to defend the fact that the people most affected were human beings,” Pantoja, an Iraq War vet, told Salon.
The GOP has responded to the president’s re-election by basically denying his ability to govern. As Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) explains above, they’ve held up the confirmation of his choice for Secretary of Defense, a Republican, and left so many judgeships vacant that it’s creating a judicial emergency.
Their worst offense? Not even showing up for a vote on the president’s nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson — a former appointee of Mitt Romney.
Virginia’s GOP Is For Nutters
Virginia’s Republican Party changed its nominating process to ensure that current state attorney general Ken Cuchinelli would be nominated for governor. This also paved the way for an attorney general nominee who wants to convict women who don’t report miscarriages of a crime and our new favorite Republican — E.W. Jackson.
If you were going to create a Republican candidate designed to alienate anyone who’s scared that the Republican Party wants to push back the clock on the rights of women and gay Americans, Bishop Jackson would be to the right of that candidate. Slate‘s Dave Weigel calls him “The Walking Republican Nightmare.”
This guy is so bad that even Republicans are noticing.
The Todd Akin Agenda
After convincing themselves that the trial of Kermit Gosnell was going to turn America against a woman’s right to choose, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) is pushing an unconstitutional bill to ban all abortions after the 20th week.
This bill is not quite as bad as the personhood bills pushed by former rep Todd Akin and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), which ban all abortions and most contraception, but it’s exactly the kind of bill that needlessly alienates women that the GOP told itself that it was going to avoid.
The party that isn’t in the White House nearly always wins seats in off-year elections. The recent exceptions to this rule are when Republicans ran on the Iraq War in 2002 and when President Clinton was being impeached by House Republicans in 1998.
The GOP is so frightened of repeating their error from 1998 that RNC Reince Priebus is warning them not to call for impeachment unless they have actual “evidence.” But Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) didn’t get the memo. He can’t help himself using the “I-word” over and over. He just can’t take it off the table!
Why can’t Republicans help themselves?
The National Journal‘s Charlie Cook blames their irrational hatred of Obama:
These days, the country is even more polarized, and the conservative echo chamber is louder than ever before. Many conservatives made it all the way to Election Day last November unaware that their White House nominee was falling short. How could Mitt Romney possibly lose when everyone they knew was voting for him? Except that he did lose, and it wasn’t even a very close race. Five other post-World War II presidential elections had closer outcomes.
Republicans and conservatives who are so consumed by these ‘scandals’ should ask themselves why, despite wall-to-wall media attention and the constant focus inside the Beltway—some are even talking about grounds for impeachment—Obama’s job-approval needle hasn’t moved. The CNN/ORC poll suggests that people are aware of and watching the news, but they aren’t reacting, at least not yet. Clearly Republicans hope the public will begin to respond. But at what point do they decide that maybe voters might be more interested in other issues or worries than about politicians on one side pointing fingers and throwing allegations at those on the other side? At what point might the GOP conclude that it is just digging the hole a little deeper?