Friday, October 30, 2020

If Trump Loses, What Happens to the Republican Party

It seems likely, although not certain, that Trump will lose the election. If so, what happens to the Republican party? I can see four possible alternatives:

1. Trump remains in control, the party remains as the populist coalition he created. 

2. Trump gives up control, deliberately or otherwise, but the party remains as his coalition, under new leadership.

3. The party reverts to more or less what it was before Trump. Most of the blue collar voters he attracted return to the Democratic party, many of the traditional Republicans who he lost come back. 

4. The party reforms itself as a different coalition. Having lost many of the voters attracted by Trump, it needs to find support somewhere else. The obvious source is the center, Democrats unhappy with the extreme progressive policies that Biden at least says he will follow and that the young Turks of the Democratic Party, led by AOC, will push, liberals repelled by the very unliberal approach of the Woke faction.

This is the most interesting possibility, especially for libertarians, since we might find ourselves included in such a coalition.

P.S. (November 4th A.M.) It is now clear that if Trump loses, as he probably but not certainly will, it will be in a very close election. Also that he has been surprisingly successful in shifting minority voters, especially Latinos but apparently blacks as well, towards the Republican party. 

I conclude that either option 1 or 2 will almost certainly hold for the next four years.


Nathan Taylor said...

The example you cite for 4 (anti-woke) is very compatible with 2 (Trump coalition).

In fact, I think the default is Republican party continues its transformation into the part of non-college. And Democrats become more tightly wed to being ruled by ethos of elite college graduates.

So mine is a variation on 2. But I think centrist anti-woke fits easily into this bucket. After all, only 33% of Americans have a 4 year college degree. So in some sense, any party that is supportive of the 66% has to be centrist. Even if of course college graduates would still lead even the non-college coalition.

It's important to note that Trump has picked up black and hispanic votes in 2020 compared to 2016. This is definitely a case of class being more important to some than race is. Leaning into class versus race seems natural fit for Republican party in future.

Whistling Willie said...
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Whistling Willie said...

If Trump's loses by a significant margin (likely), the recriminations within (what remains of) the GOP will not be resolved quickly. It will be like the Tower of Babel, with no coherent messaging and many competing voices. Given such, I suspect that the 2022 mid-term elections will lead to a further diminution of GOP membership in Congress.

The time window between 2022 and 2024 will be critical in determining the future prospects of the GOP (viz., the urgency to get its act together for the next presidential election).

Under options 1 and 2, the Never-Trumpers (George Will, Max Boot, William Kristol, Joe Scarborough, David Frum, Jennifer Rubin, etc) who left the Republican party ~2016 may well register as Democrats, resurrecting the conservative wing of the Democratic party such as existed decades ago.

My guess: the GOP two-three years hence will resemble the party pre-Trump (option 3). The Evangelical Christian/non-college-educated/rural/White portion of the electorate will find itself politically homeless.

If Biden presses with lots of progressive measures in the early days of his administration (likely), the GOP will see the need to be a vehicle of opposition, with no internal philosophical consistency; such will be postponed until actually needed.