Wednesday, September 17, 2008

GOP Prospects for the Future

If you compare the 1988 electoral map to the 2008 electoral map, as provided by Realclearpolitics, it is becoming clear that the GOP is going to have to change its positions on many issues. The map continues to trend away from them.

The idea that Republicans could win a rout like 1988 or 1984 or 1972 anymore is ludicrous. The blue states on the East coast are heading south towards North Carolina and then Georgia on the I-95 and I-85 corridors. Among states below the Mason-Dixon, Maryland has already become reliably blue after voting for Reagan and the first George Bush and Virginia now has had 2 Democratic governors in a row, and will soon have two Democratic senators.

Some have posited that re-apportionment will save the GOP in the coming decade, with Red states likely to gain electoral votes at the expense of blue states, but this assumption is suspect, as the gains in Texas, South Carolina and Utah, which should remain reliably red, are liable to be tempered by the losses of Virginia, North Carolina, Nevada, Florida, Arizona and Georgia, all of which have suddenly become competitive states for the Democrats. Colorado and New Hampshire, both of which were won by George Bush in 2000, and New Mexico, which he won in 2004 after losing in 2000 are trending blue as well.

You will notice that with the exception of Utah, none of the most fiercely conservatives states, such as Alabama, Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana or Mississippi will be gaining electoral votes.

Virginia may go blue this fall and if it does, expect it to remain blue, followed by North Carolina in the next election, with Nevada and Florida already at equipoise. Georgia has gone Democratic for President in 1976, 1980 and 1992, while Arizona went blue in 1996 and has looked increasingly competitive, if not this year, due to the nomination of a favorite son.


Marshall said...

William I largely agree with your commentary and would note that in the Northeast, where the Republicans haven't done very well really since Reagan at the Presidential level, the few House seats they have held onto are at risk. For example, in New York the state Senate is nominally held by Republicans and may flip this year. If so, then the Democrats would control the entire reapportionment process and not only would one Republican be at risk in 2012 but the realigned remaining districts may also be drawn so as to maximize Democratic results. As it is, several Republican-held seats are at risk this year not to mention the lone remaining Republican congressman from Connecticut, Chris Shay.

As in 1992 the Republicans have squandered the themes on which they had run on and won on in the past--stewardship of the economy, taxes and defense. Rather the economy is in the worst shape in 70 years, tax cuts are about to expire (and inflation has wiped out their effect anyway), and the country has been on offense in the war on terror. So what then do they stand for? Not much beyond a conservative social agenda that has limited regional appeal. Like the British Tories they run the risk of becoming a party composed of elderly voters.

William O. Douglas Loeffler said...

Thanks for your comment, Marshall, which provides excellent insight into an important state. We can also note that New Hampshire, which once seemed to be fiercely Republican and which I believe was chosen as a libertarian homeland, is likely to vote for Obama this fall.