Where is the American electorate trending in the long term? Is it with Trump's new brand of Republicanism, or with the Progressive wave we’ve witnessed over these past few months? In all likelihood, it’s the latter.
The power of our two political parties has alternated throughout the decades. When Democrats swept to control both houses after Watergate, many believed the Republicans were an extinct entity. But Democrats grew so extreme in their policies, allowing crime to explode, the economy to implode, and the family unit to disintegrate. So, along came Ronald Reagan, whose tax cuts spurred growth in jobs and incomes. But, inattention to deficits and a tax freeze pledge betrayal by Reagan’s successor opened the door for Democrat Bill Clinton to win, stressing: “It’s the economy, stupid.”
George W. Bush, who lost the popular vote, left office with dismal poll numbers after presiding over an economic collapse and an unpopular war. Then Barack Obama cruised to an easy victory by coalescing an alliance of energized young voters, minorities and single women, at unprecedented levels.
He repeated the feat in 2012, leaving many to believe that the nation’s changing demographics held out the probability that Democrats could rule for the next generation. Add to the mix the millions of children of illegal immigrants who will soon be voting, along with felons recently given the franchise, and it portends a coalition Republicans will be unable to overcome.
Many saw the Trump victory as a deathblow to this trend, with the formation of a new Right of Center coalition, which welcomed back the old white Reagan Democrats to Republican ranks. It’s far more likely, however, that the Trump victory was a lightning in a bottle aberration.
Pollsters took an unfair beating after the election, but they pretty much got it right. They had Clinton winning within the margin of error. And that she did, by approximately 3 million votes. Not nuanced was the fact that Trump wisely targeted select Rust Belt states, picking off all their electoral votes by winning by a hair's breadth. Trump's team was aware of these tight statewide polls. But Clinton technocrat, Robby Mook, as noted in the book "Shattered," stopped polling there, instead relying solely on his algorithms to maximize turn out.
But, Trump’s victory margin was so slim that had the Green Party’s Jill Stein not siphoned 130,000 progressive votes in these battlegrounds, those electoral delegates would have flown to Clinton.
It would be very difficult for Trump to re-create this scenario in 2020, without managing to draw from the center. Instead, he has decided to simply seek to maximize his base. Unfortunately for him, that base is just not large enough to compete with the growing Progressive coalition.
Republicans have become an old, white party. Furthermore, high income, highly educated whites, who used to comprise a solid block in the GOP, are now voting Democratic. A Pew survey notes that post graduates now lean Democrat by a 2-1 margin. The same is true for the suburban soccer moms. 60 percent of college educated white women now lean Democratic.
The good news for Trump is that these sectors are not a lost cause. They generally like his economic policies, but are turned off by his style. Though, who believes this septuagenarian will change his habits anytime soon?
The Census projects Whites will be a minority in America by 2045. While comprising 77 percent of the electorate in 2004, it shrunk to just 70 percent in 2016. For the Republican Party to survive, it will need to attract minority and younger voters. This won’t be easy, given the fact that this new generation has been indoctrinated by academia and the media to dislike the country they are living in. (59 percent of Millennials are Democrats or lean Democratic.) As long as the Democratic Party is perceived as the Resistance, many youths will be attracted to it.
For many of these Millennials, the only thing they relate their government to was two unpopular wars and the near collapse of the capitalist system in 2008. On Long Island, 41 percent of young people 18-34 still live with their parents.
Perhaps a booming economy that provides job opportunities will encourage these pessimists to take another look at how tax cut policies can positively impact their lives. But they will be open to listening only if Trump is seen as less combative with the minority community. It doesn’t mean he has to start supporting Black Lives Matter, but it does mean that the president must stop stumbling by making it appear that he is giving aid and comfort to the alt-right, even if he actually isn’t.
One possible path to enhancing the Republican coalition is to reel in the growing Asian American community. It’s a mystery why Asian Americans are voting so heavily Democratic. (Only 11 percent are registered Republican.) Asian Americans are being discriminated against by liberals in our institutions, especially our schools, because they succeed too much. Asian Americans also are industrious entrepreneurs who are hurt by over-regulation advocated by Democrats.
One promising trend is the noticeable uptick of Trump support from African Americans — up to 36 percent in an August Rasmussen poll. Good job reports will do that, but so will the continued prominence of Right of Center African American voices on Fox (see David Webb, Candice Owens, and Larry Elder, to name a few). And, a simple tweet from Kanye West that he should be free to form his opinions separate from the pack mentality is opening opportunities for conservative voices to be heard in the Black community.
Republicans won’t win the Black vote this generation, but nabbing 20 percent of the demographic, rather than the traditional 5-8 percent could be the difference maker that holds back the Blue Wave from becoming permanent. Ultimately, though, time seems to be on the side of the Democrats.
Steve Levy, former New York state assemblyman, Suffolk County executive, and candidate for governor, is now a distinguished political pundit. Levy's commentary has been published in such media outlets as Washington Times, Washington Examiner, New York Post, Albany Times, Long Island Business News, and City & State Magazine. He hosted “The Steve Levy Radio Show" on Long Island News Radio, and is a frequent guest on high profile television and radio outlets. Few on the political scene possess Levy’s diverse background. He’s been both a legislator and executive, and served on both the state and local levels — as both a Democrat and Republican. Levy published Bias in the Media, an analysis of his own experience, after switching parties, with the media's leftward slant. Levy is currently Executive Director of the Center for Cost Effective Government, a fiscally conservative think tank. He is also President of Common Sense Strategies, a political consulting firm. To learn more about his past work and upcoming appearances, visit www.stevelevy.info. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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