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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Future of the GOP Coalition

At The Guardian, Harry Enten argues that the GOP does not need to change fundamentally in order to win the 2016 election.
Indeed, there is little to no sign that Mitt Romney did worse than he should have, given the state of the economy. President Obama won by a little less than 4pt, when the two best fundamental models (based solely on numerous different economic factors) had him winning by 3pt and 5pt respectively. Taking into account Obama's approval rating and the economy, as the original Alan Abramowitz model does, shows Obama should have won by a little more than 4pt.
That's the reason why I don't buy the argument that the shrinking white population in this country necessarily spells doom for the Republicans. This is a two-party system where the economy almost always dictates who wins and loses elections. No one has yet proved that the 2012 election indicates that the Republican party needs to change fundamentally in order to win, despite hundreds of column inches expended on the subject.
For Republicans to win, they'd need economic conditions slightly more favorable to the out-party (that would have been, in 2012, a worse economy and less confidence). Following the 2012 pattern, this would allow them in 2016 to continue to do exponentially better among white working-class voters. Sean Trende, who believes that the GOP could win with a mostly white coalition, anticipates Republicans also gaining a few more points among minorities.
Of course, many doubt this steady-state strategy could work for Republicans. Karl Rove said a few months ago that Republicans would have a hard time regularly winning the white vote by 25pt or more. But that's the funny thing about electoral rules: they're made to be broken. For example, the aforementioned Alan Abramowitz said that Republicans would have a very hard time getting above the 58% of the white vote in 2010 that they had in 1994. In fact, they won 62% of the white vote in the last midterms.
But does the shift in the white vote reflect a change in party support or a specific reaction to President "Bitter Clinger" Obama?  If the latter, might Hillary "Beer Track" Clinton do much better among working class whites?