This week brought some major political anniversaries. Monday was the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution that brought down Russia’s Tsar and ushered in nearly 75 years of communism – and (coincidentally, according to today’s college students) starvation, poverty, mass death, oppression, aggression, tyranny and…oh yes, “droughts.” Tuesday was also the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s unexpected defeat of Hillary Clinton (well, I predicted it, but nobody listened), which ushered in 12 months of liberals across America and all over the media throwing a 24/7 tantrum and screaming about “Resistance” like a Bolshevik revolutionary who was told to take a bath.
Yesterday will also go down as a political date of its own importance, but with echoes of both previous events. Tuesday’s elections are being depicted (let’s be honest: “celebrated”) in the media as a November Revolution, a Republican Armageddon, a Democratic tsunami proving that, to quote George Costanza, “We’re back, baby!” As usual, most commentators are letting their personal biases color their interpretations. I know I’ll be accused of trying to put a pro-Republican happy face on a rotting Jack-o-lantern, but I’m honestly not. I try to give you honest and informed analysis, good or bad, because blowing smoke does the GOP no good. You don’t want to be like one of those wailing Democrats a year ago who believed the polls about Hillary. So here goes:
First of all, the highest profile Dem wins (governors in Virginia and New Jersey) were entirely predictable. Both states were the Dems’ to lose. New Jersey is solid blue, and the Republican candidate was tainted by his association with outgoing Gov. Chris Christie, who has popularity problems unrelated to Trump or conservatism. And in Virginia, the heavy northern influx of lobbyists, government workers and other big government dependents during the Obama era has spread, turning the once-purple state so blue that the last governor elected there was Clinton fixer Terry McAuliffe. Republican Ed Gillespie always faced a steep climb. Some analysts say he was too associated with Trump. Trump says he didn’t embrace his issues enough. Others say he did embrace them, but Trump voters didn’t believe him. And some analysts just said it was a mistake to run on national issues instead of local issues. They all have a point, but none touch on the most important fact.
As one analyst put it, Republicans turned out as if it were a regular election, while Democrats turned out in huge numbers. They’ve were fired up by a solid year of ‘round-the-clock anti-Trump rhetoric, and they charged to the polls like bulls who’ve had a red flag waved in their faces for 12 months. Whether these wins will energize them even more next year, or they’ll eventually get tired of the nonstop divisiveness is hard to predict, but so far, it seems to be only getting worse, not dissipating. They're thriving on their liquid diet of anti-Trump vitriol.
Republicans should be more concerned about Democratic wins further down the ballot, in states where they should have had better odds. 2020 is a redistricting year, and they don’t want to turn the drawing of voting district lines over to the same party that thinks opinions they disagree with should be treated with shout-downs, punches, riots, tax audits, lawsuits and jail terms.
Coming into 2018, Republicans need to energize their base, and despite the Democrats’ Tuesday sweep, I don’t believe that parties can build a longterm winning strategy on relentless negativity. Democrats won largely because they were so fired up by the non-stop anti-Trump drumbeat. Republicans might have persuadable to show up and counter that, but the party gave them no positive reasons to do so. People want something to vote for, not just to vote against. This election is being painted by the left as a Democratic resurgence, but a new CNN poll shows the party has a 37% favorability rating, a 25-year low. (Before Republicans sigh in relief, their rating is 30%.)
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