The GOP Has Been Trumped

Trying to blog the Last Days of Trump is a tad overwhelming. Events are coming too fast; it’s like being slammed by a tsunami every day. But I try to pick out one digestible thing to look at.

Here are a couple of columns that point to the same thing — the near total Trumpification of the Republican Party. Trump lost, but election data show us that his being on the ticket helped down-ticket Republicans anyway.

At WaPo, E.J. Dionne compares the blue wave of 2018 to the results of 2020. In 2018, turnout in metro areas and among people with college educations rose much higher than in rural areas and among the less educated. “When you look at where the big 2018 turnout increase came from,” Dionne writes, “it’s obvious that Democratic-leaning constituencies intent on punishing Trump far outperformed Trump’s core constituencies, perhaps because Trump himself was not on the ballot.” Dionne continues,

But in 2020, Trump voters came out in droves and thus boosted down-ballot Republicans. Trump won over 10 million more votes in 2020 than in 2016 — exit polls suggest that 6.5 million of his ballots came from first-time voters — which means he brought new supporters into the electorate who were important to this year’s House GOP victories.

As one Democratic strategist noted, “2018 was a wave year because our people showed up and theirs didn’t. 2020 was like a reversion to the mean because both sides showed up and right now we’re feeling the whiplash because no public or private data saw it coming.”

Given that it’s unlikely Donald Trump will ever appear on a ballot again, what will this mean for the Republican party?

Going forward, figuring out how Trump won an additional 10 million votes is one of the most important questions in politics. Here’s a plausible and discouraging theory: Given Trump’s intemperate and often wild ranting in the campaign’s final weeks and the growing public role in GOP politics of QAnon conspiracists, the Proud Boys and other previously marginal extremist groups, these voters may well be more radical than the party as a whole. This means that Republicans looking to the future may be more focused on keeping such Trump loyalists in the electorate than on backing away from his abuses.

Trump’s bitterest harvest could thus be a Republican Party with absolutely no interest in a more moderate course and every reason to keep its supporters angry and on edge. Ignoring reality and denying Trump’s defeat are part of that effort.

At the Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein comes to a similar conclusion. He writes that the recent congressional results tracked very closely to presidential results; only a small percentage of voters chose a president and congressperson of different parties.

Just as in 2016, Democrats this year did not win a single Senate seat in a state that Trump carried. Similarly, Susan Collins in Maine was the only Republican Senate candidate to win a state Trump lost. Final data in many states aren’t yet available, but Trump likely carried most of the Democratic-held House seats that Republicans flipped.

And if Republican voters believe, as a large percentage of them do, that Biden stole the election from Trump, those senators are not likely to go along with the reach-across-the-aisle thing. They will more likely please their constituents by blocking everything the Biden administration tries to do.

Brownstein interviews Bill Kristol, who for once may have a clue:

Overall, Kristol said, the election’s unexpectedly mixed results, with Republican congressional gains offsetting Trump’s defeat, have diminished the audience in the party for reconsidering Trumpism. Among congressional Republicans, the dominant interpretation of the results “is we paid no price for being Trump enablers or even apologists or even pale versions of Trump at times,” Kristol told me. “They think they are going to win the House in 2022, have a good shot at the presidency in 2024, and probably hold the Senate. Therefore, what do they have to do? They think they basically move ahead, business as usual, no repudiation, no rethinking, no fundamental recalibration.”

It’s also the case that if Trump is not ruined by all the legal trouble he’s in, he will continue to pull strings in the Republican party, acting as a kingmaker.

In the long run this stay-the-course strategy could turn out to be a bad decision for Republicans. For one thing, Trump really did lose.

As the vote counting continues, Biden’s lead has stretched to nearly 6 million votes, a larger raw-vote victory than Obama had in 2012. Trump can point to his continued dominance among non-college-educated white voters and his modest, but meaningful, gains among nonwhite voters as validation of his direction. But Republicans uneasy about his influence can find plenty of contrary trends that raise doubts about his ability to win another presidential election, including his weak performance among younger voters; the consolidation of well-educated, diverse, and prospering metro areas against him; and Biden’s ability not only to recapture key Rust Belt states but also to break through in Sun Belt battlegrounds.

But Republican office holders are looking to the next election, the 2022 midterms, and they are betting on a failed Biden administration to put them back in the congressional driver’s seat. So most of them will shamelessly support Trump’s claim that he was the rightful winner of the election, and once the Biden administration begins they will pull every trick they know how to pull to make Biden fail.

We may yet win the George Senate runoff elections. Trump isn’t on the ticket, after all. And, going forward, this tension may eventually cause the crack-up of the old GOP and a massive political realignment. But it’s going to be very, very messy.

See also:

Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, Trump and Giuliani are the Republican Party

Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post, GOP leaders’ embrace of Trump’s refusal to concede fits pattern of rising authoritarianism, data shows

David Smith, Guardian/Observer, Trump will cast a long shadow over Republican party despite defeat

Jeremy W. Peters, New York Times, Trump Lost the Race. But Republicans Know It’s Still His Party.

Jonathan Last, The New Republic, The Republican Party Is Dead. It’s the Trump Cult Now.

Dahlia Lithwick, Slate, Trump Is No Longer the Problem. His Army of Followers Is.

10 thoughts on “The GOP Has Been Trumped

  1. So the Republican way forward is to revise their plan?  What? They never had a plan for the next four years?  O K then scratch that.   So the Republican way forward is to continue to follow and support Trump?  He lost you know, and right now Rudy is doing all the talking for Trump, and he is going a little more than a little bit mental.  Now I read he made the slash the throat sign toward what needed to be done to Democrats.  TMNBOKEIYAR but a violent sort of crazy is going to lose the competent members under the not big enough umbrella.  Mitt Romney and a few others are seeming to have a little trouble with the likes of the proud boys and other rabble, and may have reached the limit of crazy tolerant.  A sanity caucus of Republicans may develop and just be able to rule the Senate.  Hope springs eternal.  So what is Not OK Even If You Are Republican? 

    Really, predicting the Republicans to continue to be crazy, with Trump as the standard bearer of that wing is akin to predicting shorter daylight hours in the winter in our hemisphere.  Nothing short of a cataclysmic event will change that course.  It is, as I have learned, a vital part of that group. In the past, the crazy was mostly harmless.  I guess if you fell for emu farming as a way to riches you might have needed and expensive education.  At least it was cheaper than Trump U.  Some of the current trends in crazy seem not so harmless.  It may take some effort but these trends are not beyond control.  It will take some multi-tasking as the COVID is certainly not yet under control and deadly too. 

  2. I'm glad I'm 62, rather than 32, or 22. 

    Why?  Because I'll have less – or no – time to try to survive what's almost certainly coming.

    Like global warming.  Hopefully it's most serious effects won't be felt for some time.

    Like long after I've died, and my ashes, after flowing down the Hudson, get caught and carried by the currents circulating around the Atlantic, making their way to and fro between America and Europe, eventually dropping my remains off in the Mediterranean, where they'll swirl around for a while before they sink.  I'm a kinda fat, so my ashes will be fat, and fat floats, so some fat-molecules of me might actually make that possible!  😉

    But before global warming smacks us like like a woman slapping tRUMP in his face for grabbing her (opposite of  doggie) ___________________, America's likely to have some form of civil war.

    So while I hope I'm around for a while, I'd prefer not to be around for a civil war, or dying of thirst, or drowning.  My Mother survived The Battle of Stalingrad.  I have no interest in surviving The Battle of New Paltz, only to freeze, or boil.

    I'm a coward.  And damn proud of it!

  3. Trump is on his way out. Trumpism is not. My fear is that someone worse, an effective Trump will win in 2024. AOC said: if his life (a nearby cab driver) doesn't improve in four years, Republicans will be back.

    I am heartened by those few Republicans starting to show spine – the Secy of State in Georgia, and the election board in Michigan, who rebuffed Trump's effort to overturn the results. Even Tucker Carlson asked a hard question – "where's the evidence" – of Trump's attorney. Slowly they're turning away.

    • No one's life is going to get better over the next four years.  Absolutely no one.  If the quote is genuine, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is simply one among the many upon many who are fighting the last war.

      No one wants anything for themselves, but only to harm others.

      From our standpoint, we being the vanishing few who are not exclusively motivated by infantile sadism, infantile paranoia, infantile credulity, it is not about making anything better — because that is off the table — but about asserting standards whose value is not local or topical.

  4. I might be engaging in wishful thinking, but I believe Trump's support will start to evaporate once he is out of office and loses his ability to control the news cycle. He'll have his base of diehard of malcontents who will stick with him for a short while, but I suspect they will dwindle down as his image as the indominable Trump gets reshaped by the legal system and by more exposure of his criminal acts.

    Sure, he gained a lot of voters over his 2016 numbers, but you have to consider that the number that he gained can't be distinguished from votes cast solely against Joe Biden or the Democrat/ Progressive agenda rather than an affirmation of undying support for Trump. Also there are millions of people who are just tuned out to the goings on of politics, but vote to fulfill their civic duty with only a cursory knowledge of the issues before them and have a very limited choice to cast a meaningful vote.

    Trump isn't as big and powerful as he is being made out to be, and now that he's started into his descent, I believe there will be rapid falling away of supporters and even true believers.

     When the dam bursts?



    • IMO, the GOP would sacrifice virgins on a golden altar if Trump even hinted that would appease him. Until January 5. Much of the Biden agenda can be accomplished by reconciliation – even without addressing the filibuster. Tax laws could change – rich people paying more.

      The news cycle is about Trump and the gang that can't shoot straight (Rudy and clowns) but the political universe revolves around two elections. The outcome may rest in appeasing the man-baby because a single tweet could flip those two seats blue.  

      Nobody wants Trump behind bars in 2023 as much as Mitch. The GOP would be Trump-twitter free and they could campaign on avenging Trump (send money) without having to deal with bat-feces-crazy demands from Trump. 

      The cult aspect is a political firecracker for the GOP. A significant portion of Republican voters will want to run Trump from prison, or from self-imposed exile. They'll go for Don Jr. if Trump dies. These Q-nuts don't trust McConnell any more than I do. The underlying drive to go fascist and simultaneously oppose the establishment GOP is part of their ethos. 

      Swami is right – when Trump isn't president, the show is canceled. If Trump flees the country to avoid criminal trial, he becomes even less relevant. But Team Trump isn't going away.

      Donald and his heirs understand the potential cash value of the political grift. They can keep control of the flow of money while they control the party (and the party has other plans.) The trump card that they have is that the Trump family can destroy the GOP if the GOP does not bow to them. The Trumps can take half the voters in the conservative column and those cultists will go without looking back.  

      • No.  Trump has no friends, no admirers, no supporters.  His name is used as a talisman, but, as you say, it will shortly become ineffective for that purpose.  The "Trumpists" are addicted to conservative ideology, and it is the same ideology it has been for millenia.  (Of course it finds various local and topical expressions, none of which are ever essential.) 

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