We’ll have to wait and see, but the violence at the Capitol last week may only exacerbate the GOP’s problems on dimensions No. 2 and No. 3. In the few polls conducted since, solid majorities of Americans overall, including almost all Democrats and a majority of independents, said the storming of the Capitol represented a threat to democracy. Similar shares of Democrats and independents said Trump and congressional Republicans bore at least some blame.
Republicans are in a fairly precarious position. At best, they are often fighting to a draw, and one that would often be a losing strategy without the structural advantages built into the system for rural voters. And if Republicans don’t get spectacular turnout from their base, everything else potentially starts to crumble. Even a modest decline in turnout from people who are pro-#MAGA but not necessarily part of the traditional Republican base can leave the GOP in a losing position.
Nor do Republicans have any sort of obvious role model for how to achieve consistent electoral success. The previous Republican president, George W. Bush, saw his second term in office end with landslides against Republicans in 2006 and 2008. A series of recent presidential nominees associated with the party establishment (Mitt Romney, John McCain, Bob Dole) all lost their elections, meanwhile. You really have to go back to Ronald Reagan for an example of an unambiguously broad and successful Republican electoral coalition, and that was a generation ago. Republicans who cast their first votes for Reagan at age 18 in 1984 will be 58 years old in 2024.