Tuesday’s midterm elections were important for the country’s future. They were also crucial for the Republican Party’s future. The GOP’s massive losses in traditionally Republican suburbs have set it irretrievably on a new path. Either it re-creates a William McKinley-style coalition based on the working-class voter or it dies.
The party’s devastation in traditional, high-income suburban bastions is unmistakable. Nearly every House seat it lost was in these areas. Districts in suburban Atlanta, Houston and Dallas that voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 by between 15 and 24 points went Democratic. Districts that Republicans had held for decades outside Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia fell. The blue tide even swept away a GOP seat in Oklahoma City. This trend was more than a coastal fad.
Republicans are used to being the party of the upper middle class, and their natural reaction will be to prioritize regaining these lost ancestral homes. But they should resist that urge, at least insofar as it would conflict with efforts to serve another, crucial part of the evolving GOP coalition: working-class, Obama-Trump voters.