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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Big-Picture Thoughts on 2012

At RealClearPolitics, Sean Trende offers some perspective: "Just looking at the numbers the Republican Party, overall, is actually in pretty good shape. Of course, that doesn’t mean it isn’t set for a major decline; this could be a high point. But it does mean the Party would be starting its decline from a pretty high peak."
  • The party is close to its postwar high in number of House seats;
  • Its share of Senate seats is within historical ranges, well above its low points;
  • With 30 governors, the GOP has a larger percentage than in all but six years since 1876.
  • Its share of state legislative seats is near postwar highs.
As for the presidential race: 
The simple truth is that this election turned out pretty much the way that the econometric models suggested it should. The GOP had deluded itself into believing that 2012 was a “gimme” -- and to be sure, it was winnable. Team Romney made some mistakes and failed to capitalize on opportunities. But overall, the result wasn’t out of line with what we’d expect from a tepid economy (this also cuts against the “demographics” argument; if demographics were becoming the GOP’s main problem, the GOP would increasingly run behind what the economy suggested it “should”).
At The New York Times, Ross Douthat sees a Democratic coalition stemming from social disintegration and united by economic fear:

  • True, Democrats are more welcoming to immigrants, but "they’re also winning recent immigrants because those immigrants often aren’t assimilating successfully — or worse, are assimilating downward, thanks to rising out-of-wedlock birthrates and high dropout rates. The Democratic edge among Hispanics depends heavily on these darker trends: the weaker that families and communities are, the more necessary government support inevitably seems."
  • Democrats win singles in part because "single life with children — which is now commonplace for women under 30 — is almost impossible to navigate without the support the welfare state provides."
  • Seculars are not just good-humored village atheists. "But the typical unchurched American is just as often an underemployed working-class man, whose secularism is less an intellectual choice than a symptom of his disconnection from community in general."
He faults both parties:
What unites all of these stories is the growing failure of America’s local associations — civic, familial, religious — to foster stability, encourage solidarity and make mobility possible.
This is a crisis that the Republican Party often badly misunderstands, casting Democratic-leaning voters as lazy moochers or spoiled children seeking “gifts” (as a certain former Republican presidential nominee would have it) rather than recognizing the reality of their economic struggles.
But if conservatives don’t acknowledge the crisis’s economic component, liberalism often seems indifferent to its deeper social roots.