Jim Clark: The aftermath of Donald Trump’s election (opinion)
Tuesday, November 8, 2016, dawned bright and clear but a cloud hung over most Republicans. Of fifteen national polls none … not one … forecast a Trump win in the Electoral College.
With 270 votes needed, pollsters’ guesstimates ranged from a low of 170 to a high of 216. The same polls forecast Clinton to win anywhere from 268 to 322.
Loss of a Senate majority seemed a certainty, while prospective losses in the House, maybe even putting the GOP in the minority, loomed. Stark memories of the 1964 Goldwater debacle were pervasive.
Then the vote counting started.
What a difference a day makes. As state results rolled in, not only was Trump triumphant, his coat tails preserved a GOP Senate majority and kept losses in the House manageable. The “Blue Wall” of “safe” Democratic rust belt states caved with majorities voting Republican for the first time since Ronald Reagan.
Analysts say that the basis of Trump’s surprise win was his discovery of and appeal to the “forgotten voter” — Midwesterners victimized by the economic slump as manufacturers headed off shore. The specific demographic was white, non-college educated men.
Moreover, according to Washington Examiner analyst Michael Barone, “black turnout (for Hillary) sagged notably in Cleveland, Detroit and Madison.”
A cadre of liberal University political scientists of Latino descent incorporated as “Latino Decisions” organized urban Latino voters for Clinton. But, according to Northwestern University Professor Geraldo Cadaus writing in the Washington Post, rural Latinos, like whites, “shifted toward Trump,” indicating, in his opinion, that Latinos are not monolithic. Indeed if exit polls can be believed Trump did substantially better (39%) than Romney (25%) with Latino voters.
The 2016 Election also wrote the final chapter on the impact of GOP electoral efforts during President Obama’s two terms of “hope and change.” Since January 2009, the Democratic Party has suffered loss of 13 governorships, 9 Senate seats, 63 House seats, 949 seats in state legislatures and 29 state legislative chambers.
Going back to 1944, all two-term incumbents (including those succeeded by their vice presidents due to death or resignation) have seen large losses in down-ballot offices held by their party members.
However, Obama is the modern era champion in state legislature Democratic seat losses. This is a troublesome portent for the Democratic Party’s future because state legislators control decennial reapportionment and constitute their party’s “bench” of promising candidates.
“The Republican civil war was supposed to start this week. Instead, in the wake of Donald Trump and the GOP’s stunning election win, a ferocious struggle has erupted on the Left over the smoldering remains of the Democratic Party,” wrote Jonathan Easley in TheHill.com.
Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim in Congress and far-left leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is running for chairman of the Democratic National Committee against “moderate” former chair, Howard Dean.
Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan is mounting a populist challenge to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. A battle royal is shaping up.
It’s hard to see how Democrats can rebuild a majority if they double down on lecturing white, working class voters about politically correct speech, environmental extremism and attitudes on gender and race.
Quarter-million-dollar speeches to Goldman Sachs, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé won’t help either. Maybe blame FBI Director Comey?
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.