Wednesday, November 5, 2014

"That Badly Damaged Republican Brand" Wins 57% of the House, at least 52% of the Senate and 62% of the Governors


The NY Times reports

It was a dispiriting outcome for Democrats, who just a few months ago were optimistic that a badly damaged Republican brand would help them prevail in a handful of races
According to the AP the Republicans will take somewhere around 248 House seats. I keep reading this is the biggest Republican House since either the 1920's or Harry Truman.  248 is 57% of the House seats. Not bad for a badly damaged brand.

I know what you are thinking: It's all the result of gerrymandering. Then explain this.

The Senate right now has 52 Republicans. Alaska and Louisiana probably go Republican, so the Senate is somewhere around 52-54% Republican. Not bad for the obstructionist party of no that gerrymands its way to victory.

I know what you are thinking: It's just the luck of the 33 Senate seats up for election. Then explain this.

The AP is currently showing Republicans with 31 of the 50 Governors,  62%. The GOP picked up Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts. All without gerrymandering. I haven't been able to find easily tabulated state house results but I believe it is similarly unbalanced towards the Republicans. Not bad for those extremist, racist, homophobic, war-mongering deniers.

I keep asking myself this: If the Republican brand is badly damaged, and they now control 57% of the House, at least 52% of the Senate and 62% of the Governors, what does that say about the Democratic brand? Not to worry though, there is hope (and change). Parties, or brands, respond to competition and will adjust their message and messengers in order to survive. I don't know how the Democrats will change, but they will.

The conventional wisdom seems to be coalescing around the notion that the Republicans must now "get things done." I don't know why. If they were elected to stop the Democrats and Obama, then it seems all they need to do is stop the Democrats and Obama. I don't really believe that's all they were elected to do, but they should be careful of over-interpreting their mandate. The Republicans will at some point over-reach and get slapped hard, just as the Democrats over-reached and got slapped, hard.

I don't buy this notion of an ineluctable trend to the Democrats based on demography and gender and I would discount any thesis (and I've seen a few) of a permanent Republican majority.

Now the chattering class can move on to their next shibboleth. Again from the NY Times:
 Republicans now face a challenge that is the mirror opposite of their counterparts’: how to avoid merely being a powerful congressional party and be competitive again in presidential campaigns, in which Democrats have won the popular vote in five of the last six elections.
 The last six Presidential election winners (source

2012        Obama     65.9M     51.1%
2008        Obama     69.5M     52.9%
2004        Bush        62.0M     50.7%
2000        Bush        50.5M      47.9%
1996        Clinton    47.4M      49.2%
1992        Clinton    44.9M      43.0%

The Democrats have won the popular vote in five of the last six elections, but not a majority of the popular vote in five of the last six. Ross Perot ran in both the 1992 and 1996 elections, winning almost 19% of the vote in 1992 and 8% in 1996. Besides, lets be honest, Clinton became Republican in 1994.

So let's rephrase it a bit. In 4 of the past 9 Presidential elections the Republican candidate for President received a majority of the popular vote, but in only 2 of the past 9 did a Democrat candidate for President receive a majority of the popular vote. In the remaining three elections, no candidate received a majority of the popular vote.


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