With the election of 2020 still being contested by the president, it seems apparent that Joe Biden will be inaugurated president on January 20, 2021. The election was a surprise in how close it was, with Trump over-performing the vast majority of polls and the polling average by about 5% in the key swing states, also changing some traditional blue states to swing on the electoral map in the process
There were gains in the minority and LGBTQ communities. Ten million more Americans came out to vote for President Trump this cycle than in 2016 (15% improvement). Republicans shockingly gained about 10 seats in the House (as of this writing). Biden is walking into a situation with the Senate most likely staying in Republican hands, preventing major liberal wish-list legislation.
He has also been gifted with a potential civil war within his party with the traditional liberals (Clinton-esque), and their new more radical base (AOC-esque). Republicans can fill a vacuum with a fresh start and new electoral map.
The 2020 results came down to the Rust Belt again along with Arizona and Georgia. Trump overperformed in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania from the preelection polls. This is significant because those states had been solidly blue prior to 2016, when Trump shattered the blue wall and flipped them. Despite losing those states in 2020, he performed well enough to categorize those states as purple going forward.
Those states are overwhelmingly white working-class that used to be a Democratic Party mainstay, but Trump has changed that. The union voters broke for Trump in 2016 and 2020 because of Trump's working-class populist messaging. These voters are also socially much more conservative than the current Democratic Party. They are not comfortable with abortion at any time in pregnancy or taxpayer funded abortions. They don't like to be told how to talk or if they can talk at all with a parade of threats on free speech coming from the left.
The wokeness of the current Democratic Party does not fit with these voters. The BLM movement doesn't resonate with poorer white voters who don't feel overly privileged living paycheck-to-paycheck. While it appears that Trump lost Georgia and Arizona in this cycle, making the Rust Belt purple going forward is putting Democrats on their heels with 46 electoral votes now up for grabs with those three states.
Going forward, Republicans need to highlight the divide in the current Democratic Party with these voters' Midwest reasonable sensibilities. Trump tapped that, but newer younger messengers can improve on that progress.
One of the most successful things that happened this cycle was a successful outreach to minority and gay voters. Let's do a rundown of what the narrative was for the last 4 years compared to the results:
- Trump is a hopeless racist, white supremist who hates Black people. Trump improved upon his 8% of Black voters with 12% supporting the president in 2020. A 50% improvement. His prison reform, Opportunity Zone investments, and aggressive outreach during the campaign was effective. You would have to go back to 1976 to find a Republican who exceeded 12% (Ford with 15%).
- Trump hates the Latino community with his immigration policy, support of a wall, and deportations. The Latino voters also improved another 4%, going from 28% to 32% (a 13% improvement).
- Trump was also lambasted as a homophobe. In an astonishing development Trump doubled his LGBTQ vote tally going from 14% to 28%. He was also the first elected president to support gay marriage.
Going forward, Republicans need to draw the link of minority voters being much more religious and Christian than white Democrats. They need to go to Black and Latino churches and community events to bring that message of religious freedom, social conservatism, and a sympathetic ear to better understand what free market solutions can be deployed to provide a 'hand up" and not the liberal 'hand out."
These are not white, Starbucks barista liberals. Now that gay marriage has become the law of the land with very few looking to push for that reversal. This really opens up that community to look internally about what matters to them as voters given the broad acceptance that has steadily taken hold in America.
There are big inroads that can be made with a Republican candidate who doesn't have as big a target on their back that Trump carried with him. The sky is the limit with these coalitions of what makes up the Democrats' base for Republicans that can articulate a positive, inclusive message while highlighting the two generations of Democrat failures to improve the lives of Black and brown Americans.
Biden is walking into a very volatile situation in his own party. The Bernie Sanders wing wants to be rewarded with single-payer healthcare, increases to corporate and individual tax rates, and a Green New Deal. None of that can be delivered with a Republican-controlled Senate. Biden's base will not care because he will have to at least try to pass these things to appease them.
This is the tricky part because it will paint him further left with this left-wing, dead on arrival legislation. Midterms are always lingering, and if 1994 or 2010 is any indication, Democrats struggle in first term, midterm elections. Going too left could easily cost them the House of Representatives in 2 years.
Republican voices can capitalize on the new landscape that Trump helped create. The era of Mitt Romney, corporatist Republicans is dead. They didn't win a decade ago, and they are even more outdated today. There should be renewed optimism in the party for a populist revolution with a big tent party.
Democrats' base has been a cobbled together coalition of "identity politics." There are now major cracks in that base. Can the GOP find a messenger to do that for 2024? Can they win the popular vote for the first time since 2004? Is Trump going to run again or play kingmaker? It's a new day, and the future is bright for the GOP … if they can seize the opportunity that exists.
Kevin Broderick serves as a consultant for a Fortune 500 Insurer in the Employee Benefits marketplace for large employers. He received a finance degree from Providence College. Read Kevin Broderick's reports — More Here.
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