Green Room

Big GOP victories plant the seeds of broad, deep and enduring majority

posted at 12:31 am on October 30, 2010 by

I’ve been writing a lot lately about the Republicans’ odds of taking back Congress, but one thing I haven’t really talked about is how a decisive vote this year could affect the long-term political environment, the effects of which will be clearly seen in the House.

Obviously one great way of affecting long-term political change is by controlling post-Census reapportionment through the election of governors and state legislatures, as dozens of House seats could come the GOP’s way simply through the creation of new seats in growing, Republican-controlled states and by Republican-controlled legislatures and governorships redrawing of the lines of Congressional districts. Indeed, Republicans may be leading many more states after Tuesday; after averaging the responses of the nearly 1200 participants to the Midterm Election Challenge, readers have predicted that Republicans will control 32+ governorships after this election. (Full results at the link.) Paired with similar gains among the state legislatures, that’s a lot of redistricting power.

But assume for a moment that there was no Census: no structural advantage to be had in the coming years. Where are the ideas of the Republican Party resonating? Perhaps a picture will help tell the tale.

The following map takes the House delegations of each state in 2004 — the last term Republicans held the majority — and compares them to the hypothetical delegations that’d result from a 63 seat GOP pickup in 2010 (that is, the 67 best pickup opportunities for the GOP, minus the four best Dem pickup opportunities.) Gray states indicate that the 2010 Republican delegation would return to its 2004 levels, neither losing nor gaining seats. Red states signal net Republican pickups above 2004. Blue states signal similar pickups by Democrats.

If this sort of an election comes pass — and that’s a big IF until people get out there and vote — it suggests that there is a regional party in America. And it’s the Democrats. (Also worth noting: the Midterm Election Challenge predicts a House take in the high 60s/low 70s, so imagine the map accordingly if you like. If Republicans can win a single race in Rhode Island, Maine and Massachusetts and hold the seat in Hawaii, what a picture that will paint, too.)

Republicans are set to command a coalition that’s not just growing in the South, but in the West and Midwest while largely regaining its pre-2006 footing everyplace else. From gains in liberal leaning states in the Northwest to the old Democrat stomping grounds in the Steel Belt and around the Great Lakes, Republicans are positioned not only to “hit the reset button” in 25 states and return to their previous delegation levels, but expand their delegations in an additional 17 states. Meanwhile, Democrats are left after four years in power making gains, and oftentimes very modest gains, in only eight states.

A strong showing in the House will be a symptom of larger political strides being taken by the Right that will shape our country for years to come. Presented with a fertile political landscape, it’s now up to us to keep the movement growing.

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Remember, these “Republican” gains are contingent on the party’s leaders making a genuine effort to move us in the right (in both senses of that word) direction. This is the first election since 1980, really, in which we’ve been allowed to choose between more government power, and less. The GOP is winning this one because they promised to start the long, hard work of rolling back 100 years of government intrusion. (Not that, necessarily, the voters want us to go back to 1910 circumstances… but they want us somewhere in between, at least.) If the GOP proves to be the “grow government… but slower” party, 2012 is going to be an entirely unpredictable electoral armageddon.

joe_doufu on October 30, 2010 at 12:58 AM

A few years ago, the big buzzword on the left was “emerging permanent Democratic Majority”. Thinking about that now makes them seem like fools, doesn’t it?

Let’s not make the same mistake. A broad and deep majority? Quite possible. Enduring? well, that’s less likely.

We’re better off thinking of that majority (once we achieve it, and those chickens haven’t yet hatched) as a fragile thing that must be maintained through hard work. It sure as hell isn’t an entitlement.

Steven Den Beste on October 30, 2010 at 1:22 AM

Big Democrat GOP victories plant the seeds of broad, deep and enduring majority

Pretty sure this kind of thing was written quite a bit in 2006/2008.

Midas on October 30, 2010 at 1:40 AM

It sure as hell isn’t an entitlement.

Steven Den Beste on October 30, 2010 at 1:22 AM

100% agree. Just like with any investment, though, diversification is often the key to surviving bad markets. The wider the Republicans’ appeal, the longer they’ll keep the majority.

Patrick Ishmael on October 30, 2010 at 1:43 AM

Not arguing any of that 40 or 20 or whatever year nonsense. Just arguing that the GOP message has gained traction widely, and that the environment’s right for them to keep it going for a period longer and unlike the Dems’ likely four-and-done experience.

Patrick Ishmael on October 30, 2010 at 2:08 AM

If it’s a coalition, it’s a conditional one. It depends entirely on good-faith and follow-through. Without these, it has the lifespan of a fruit fly.

rrpjr on October 30, 2010 at 10:18 AM

Steven Den Beste on October 30, 2010 at 1:22 AM

I always thought that book was bogus.

(1) As Patrick shows above, from west of Philly to NV, the vast majority of the country is very much open to social conservatism and fiscal conservatism. If we REALLY stick to our brand like Joe says, and don’t get into any more wars, I think we’ll be good. The main thing will be integrating hispanics into the coalition, which is easy and will go faster if there’s an hispanic VP in 2012.

(2) Our 2012 Presidential nominee is going to be critical. If Palin gets it, we’re back to W style narrow victories. 2012 is the cycle where we can really solidify conservatism. Only New York, NJ, MD, CA and New England are so pro-choice and fiscally centrist that it’ll be hard to break through in those areas.

BTW Patrick: even in the blue states above the GOP will almost get back to 2004 levels. Lots of potential in NY, NC, IN.

TimTebowSavesAmerica on October 30, 2010 at 11:13 AM

If the GOP performs, well & good.

But we know hard decisions are coming about entitlements, about walking back some Obama crap, etc. And wars happen, nobody has a crystal ball. So they are bound to do unpopular things.

The question is if voters have the maturity to accept belt-tightening and other unpopular but necessary measures.

jodetoad on October 30, 2010 at 12:49 PM

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Ed Morrissey on October 30, 2010 at 5:22 PM