Stop Wishing for Republican Soul-Searching
One of the common questions I’m seeing on MSNBC’s political coverage today is, if Mitt Romney should lose and the Republicans should fail to take Senate, whether that will force the GOP to do some “soul-searching” regarding the need to expand their attractiveness to more demographic groups beyond older white people. The notion that the Republicans will see this as evidence they need to change is wishful thinking.
First, it will be hard to convince the GOP that they lost all that badly. It is looking like they will keep control of the House of Representatives. Unless Democrats should impose serious filibuster reform, the Republicans will have sufficient votes to filibuster anything in the Senate. In other words, it is unlikely anything will happen today that will cost the GOP effective control of Congress. As to the Presidency, a terrible candidate in Mitt Romney will likely make it a close election against an incumbent President. Republicans can easily spin the Presidential result, should it go to Obama, as just being about having too much to overcome. This will be especially true if the electoral vote is at all close. Even if Obama wins by, say, 70 electoral votes, the GOP will look at a map where the overall result could flip just by flipping as few as two swing states – swing states that will be decided by a couple percentage points. Short of Obama shocking the world by sweeping every single swing state and taking, say, Texas or Georgia, Republicans will have little reason to panic.
Second, the demographic problem for the Republicans is not new. In fact, they’ve known about this issue for decades. Digby recently posted a video from thirty years ago of a highly influential Republican and right-winger acknowledging the right-wing had a demographic problem. Has this problem caused them any soul-searching about reaching out to new groups? No. As the video suggests, the approach has been to simply try to suppress the vote of “undesirable” groups. We’ve seen the GOP pushing hard for vote suppression in recent years. The GOP was shocked to lose Virginia and North Carolina in the last election – the response was not soul-searching, but pushing harder than ever to try and de-fund the Democratic Party (by destroying unions) and to prevent non-Republican people from voting. Listen up: they really, really don’t have any interest in changing their own views, policies, or even how they communicate.
There is zero evidence that anything about this election will force the GOP to re-think its approach, nor is there anything in the last fifty years of Republican history to suggest that they are in any way amenable to opening their party to new demographic groups. (Yet that won’t stop some in the media from transcribing what they hear from Republican operatives about how supposedly the GOP is magically appealing to new groups despite not having changed a thing.)
What we should expect if Obama wins and the Democrats hold the Senate is not any Republican soul-searching. What we should expect from them is exactly what they have done before: doubling down.