Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections.At NYT, Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin discuss the GOP's urban decline. Moderate Republicans such as Jerry Sanders and Kevin Faulconer served as mayor of San Diego. The current mayor, Todd Gloria, is a Democrat.
In off-year elections from Mr. Sanders’s California to New York City and New Jersey and the increasingly blue state of Virginia with its crucial suburbs of Washington, D.C., the Republican Party’s feeble appeal to the country’s big cities and dense suburbs is on vivid display.
Where the G.O.P. once consistently mounted robust campaigns in many of these areas, the party is now all but locked out of all the major contests of 2021.
The realignment of national politics around urban-versus-rural divisions has seemingly doomed Republicans in these areas as surely as it has all but eradicated the Democratic Party as a force across the Plains and the Upper Mountain West. At the national level, Republicans have largely accepted that trade-off as advantageous, since the structure of the federal government gives disproportionate power to sparsely populated rural states.
But the party’s growing irrelevance in urban and suburban areas also comes at a considerable cost, denying conservatives influence over the policies that govern much of the population and sidelining them in some of the country’s centers of innovation and economic might. The trend has helped turn formerly red states, like Georgia and Arizona, into purple battlegrounds as their largest cities and suburbs have grown larger and more ethnically mixed.
“Oakland County was kind of the quintessential suburban Republican stronghold over the postwar period,” says Jeff Timmer, a longtime GOP strategist who was executive director of the state party from 2005-2009. It was (and is) a huge source of campaign donations for the party and its candidates. It had massive influence in Lansing, and an influential bipartisan delegation in Washington. It was a must-visit locale for every aspiring Republican presidential candidate.
“When I ran the Michigan Republican Party, we always pointed to Oakland: ‘These guys have got their shit together,’” says Timmer.
To put it bluntly, the shit is no longer together.
Ten years ago, Republicans held two of the four GOP-drawn U.S. House seats in Oakland (the other two were safe Democratic); now, all four are in Democratic hands. Democratic women now represent the Romney family’s hometown in the state House, state Senate and U.S. House (Rep. Haley Stevens). Ten years ago, Brooks Patterson, the silver-tongued sun-God around whom all local politics orbited, was county executive, and Republicans held four of the six countywide elected posts; Democrats now hold five of them, including the executive. After GOP-controlled redistricting in 2012, Republicans had a 14-7 majority on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners; now, Democrats have an 11-10 edge and will control the county-level redistricting process for the first time in a half-century.