Electoral bad news
Elections in 2019 carried bad news for Republicans. In Kentucky, Democrats won the governorship — although they lost nearly every other office. But, they were crushed in Virginia, losing both houses of the legislature. In the suburbs of Philadelphia, they also suffered other losses in local contests. Only in the deep south did Republicans perform well — in Mississippi’s governors race.
For the GOP, they continue to be more and more a rural party. As suburb after suburb continues to be taken over by Democrats, the pressure on the party grows to alter its far right approach. They defend everything by going over to a strategy of scattered counterattack. In Virginia, they evoked guns and the threat of socialism — it did not work. Among well educated voters, the old fear mongering did not work. People did not seem to care.
The battles in the south are a revisit of the gradual decline of the Democrats in the region between 1952-1994. As with Republicans, Democrats held on to power by gerrymandering, voter suppression and archaic electoral law. For instance, even though Republican Bo Callaway won the popular vote over Democrat Lester G. Maddox in Georgia’s 1966 gubernatorial race, he fell below 50% throwing the election into the legislature. They voted for Maddox.
Georgia was slowly becoming a Republican state and demography was running in their favor. Likewise, gerrymandering in Texas in the 1999s, Democrats held 18 out of 22 House seats — even though the GOP was growing. In 1994, this was reversed and the Republican party meted out to Democrats what was once meted out to them.
Now, even in carefully drawing districts Republicans can no longer hold strongholds. Because of their leading edge, Republicans have become more uncompromising becoming like Southern fire-eaters of old. Lindsay Graham refuses to listen to any evidence, however legitimate, in the probe of President Donald Trump’s policy in Ukraine. Even though Graham is an anti-Russia hawk, he refuses to compromise. In his view, the Republican citadel is threatened and the rule of law is a luxury he cannot afford.
For years, Virginia was a bastion of the Republican party even while other Southern states remained Democratic. Now, Virginia is a Democratic beacon that is a symbol of the New South to come. North Carolina, due to its strong conservative instincts, remains a holdout. But as the years go on it might become more like the Old Dominion. Texas has seen an exodus of Republican congressmen not running for re-election. Remember, California used to be a reliable Republican state, now it is barely able to field a candidate for the November voting ballot.
Republicans concede their situation in their defense of Trump. He is all that they have and they remain loyal. It is a statement of their irrelevance. Even Trump must be amazed how much they have stuck with him — given many of their doubts in 2016. They have little left but a stubborn devotion to power and nostalgia. Trump knows this and acts accordingly.
Republicans should remember that although Watergate temporarily weakened them, they built a new party. Reagan’s victory in 1980 vindicated their abandonment of Nixon in 1974. Now they seem to want to fight to the last cartridge.