A reality-check on the 2014 results

For Republicans looking for ways that the party can once again take the lead in building a nationally relevant governing agenda, there is one vital takeaway from this year’s election. It starts with a graphic.

Behold the Blue Wall:

The Blue Wall is block of states in which no Republican Presidential candidate can realistically hope to win. Tuesday that block finally extended to New Hampshire, meaning that at the outset of any Presidential campaign, a minimally effective Democratic candidate can expect to win 257 electoral votes without even really trying. That’s 257 out of the 270 needed to win.

Arguably Virginia now sits behind that wall as well. Democrats won the Senate seat there essentially without campaigning in a year when hardly anyone but Republicans showed up to vote and the GOP enjoyed its largest wave in modern history. Virginia would take that tally to 270. Again, that’s 270 out of 270.

This means that the next Presidential election, and all subsequent ones until a future party realignment, will be decided in the Democratic primary. Only by sweeping all nine of the states that remain in contention AND also flipping one very solidly Democratic state can a Republican candidate win the White House.

By contrast, Republicans control a far more modest Red Fortress, which currently amounts to 149  electoral votes. This election saw Georgia fall out of that shrinking and increasingly brittle base, after losing our previous lock on North Carolina and Virginia in recent years.

A few other items of interest from the 2014 election results:

– Republican’s failed to pick up a single Senate seat behind the Blue Wall. Not one. The only GOP candidate to win a Senate seat behind the Blue Wall was the party’s last moderate, Susan Collins of Maine.

– Behind the Blue Wall there were some new Republican Governors, but their success was very specific and did not translate down the ballot at all. None of these candidates ran on social issues, Obama, or opposition the ACA. Rauner stands out as a particular bright spot in Illinois, but Democrats in Illinois retained their supermajority in the State Assembly, similar to other northern states, without losing a single seat.

– Republicans in 2014 were the most popular girl at a party no one attended. Voter turnout was awful.

– Democrats have consolidated their power behind the sections of the country that generate the overwhelming bulk of America’s wealth outside the energy industry. That’s only ironic if you buy into far-right propaganda, but it’s interesting none the less.

– Vote suppression is working, but that won’t last. Eventually Democrats will help people get the documentation they need to meet the ridiculous and confusing new requirements. The whole “voter integrity” sham may have given Republicans a one or maybe two-election boost in low-turnout races, while kissing off minority votes more or less permanently.

– Across the country, every major Democratic ballot initiative was successful, including every minimum wage increase, even in the red states.

– Every personhood amendment failed.

– Almost half of the Republican Congressional delegation now comes from the former Confederacy. Total coincidence, just pointing that out.

– Democrats in 2014 were up against a particularly tough climate because they had to defend 13 Senate seats in red or purple states. In 2016 Republicans will be defending 24 Senate seats and at least 18 of them are likely to be competitive based on geography and demographics.

– Republican support grew deeper in 2014, not broader. For example, new Texas Governor Greg Abbott won a whopping victory in the Republic of Baptistan. That’s great, but this is a race no one ever thought would be competitive and hardly anyone showed up to vote in. Texas not only had the lowest voter turnout in the country, a position it has consistently held across decades, but that electorate is more militantly out of step with every national trend then any other major Republican bloc. Texas holds a tenth of the GOP majority in the House.

– Keep an eye on oil prices. Texas, which is at the core of GOP dysfunction, is a petro state with an economy roughly as diverse, modern and complex as Nigeria, Iran or Venezuela. It was been relatively untouched by the economic collapse because it is relatively dislocated from the US economy in general. Watch what happens if the decline in oil prices lasts more than a year.

– For all the talk about economic problems, for the past year the US economy has been running at ’90’s levels. Watch Republicans start touting a booming economy as the result of their 2014 “mandate.”

– McConnell’s conciliatory statements are encouraging, but he’s about to discover that he cannot persuade Republican Senators and Congressmen to cooperate on anything constructive. We’re about to get two years of intense, horrifying stupidity. If you thought Benghazi was a legitimate scandal that reveals Obama’s real plans for America then you’re an idiot, but these next two years will be a (briefly) happy period for you.

This is an age built for Republican solutions. The global economy is undergoing a massive, accelerating transformation that promises massive new wealth and staggering challenges. We need heads-up, intelligent adaptations to capitalize on those challenges. Republicans, with their traditional leadership on commercial issues should be at the leading edge of planning to capitalize on this emerging environment.

What are we getting from Republicans? Climate denial, theocracy, thinly veiled racism, paranoia, and Benghazi hearings. Lots and lots of hearings on Benghazi.

It is almost too late for Republicans to participate in shaping the next wave of our economic and political transformation. The opportunities we inherited coming out of the Reagan Era are blinking out of existence one by one while we chase so-called “issues” so stupid, so blindingly disconnected from our emerging needs that our grandchildren will look back on our performance in much the same way that we see the failures of the generation that fought desegregation.

Something, some force, some gathering of sane, rational, authentically concerned human beings generally at peace with reality must emerge in the next four to six years from the right, or our opportunity will be lost for a long generation. Needless to say, Greg Abbott and Jodi Ernst are not that force.

“Winning” this election did not help that force emerge. This was a dark week for Republicans, and for everyone who wants to see America remain the world’s most vibrant, most powerful nation.

contact at gopliferchicago at gmail

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Election 2014, Election 2016
227 comments on “A reality-check on the 2014 results
  1. *cough* Trump *cough*

    “What are we getting from Republicans? Climate denial, theocracy, thinly veiled racism, paranoia, and Benghazi hearings. Lots and lots of hearings on Benghazi”

  2. Kirien says:

    To quote: This is an age built for Republican solutions. The global economy is undergoing a massive, accelerating transformation that promises massive new wealth and staggering challenges. We need heads-up, intelligent adaptations to capitalize on those challenges. Republicans, with their traditional leadership on commercial issues should be at the leading edge of planning to capitalize on this emerging environment.

    Oh you mean the Republican leadership on the economy that has seen a massive transferring of wealth from the poor and the middle class to the already rich?

    The Republican leadership that has seen the shrinking of the middle class and made the poor poorer while the rich get richer?

    The Republican leadership that has seen countless US jobs shipped overseas and the companies and their owners rewarded with tax breaks for doing so?

    The Republican leadership that has demanded that the poor and middle class sacrifice to pay for the costs of all those tax cuts to the top tier you guys give out?

    The Republican leadership
    that leadership?

    If you Republicans were actually capable of leadership when it comes to the economy..you wouldn’t still be pushing that failed supply side economics nonsense that has, in the 40 years, so tilted the economy and the wealth it creates to favor the rich and the beyond rich.

    That the GOP keeps on pushing that failed economic policy isn’t leadership…it’s cultish obsession with fantasy over actual reality. That no matter how thoroughly supply side economics gets proven to be a failure..you guys cling to it like a cult clings to a delusion.

    • 1mime says:

      The income divide is a glaring indictment of the GOP economic plan. The single most objectionable GOP issue for me is their relentless attacks on health care for the millions of Americans who are uninsured. That they object to the ACA is obvious; that they don’t really care about the problem is obvious. No plan that offers broad, adequate access to all people. It’s as if these Americans don’t exist in their real world. All of the other important issues – immigration policy, infrastructure repair, womens’ issues, racial issues, climate change/aka-global warming, tax reform, equality, separation of church and state, preservation of the social safety net, living wage, etc. All of these second the over-arching need for health care.

      Everything you said is true, Kirien. And, don’t look for Lifer’s rational suggestions to find traction within the current GOP leadership.

  3. Asa Gordon says:

    Historical Reality Check, all former Southern Dixiecrats are now Republicans.

    “Who needs Manhattan when we can get the electoral votes of eleven Southern states?” Kevin Phillips, the prophet of “the emerging Republican majority,” asked in 1968, when he was piecing together Richard Nixon’s electoral map. The eleven states, he meant, of the Old Confederacy.

    “Why the South Must Prevail”
    National Review editorial_
    Aug. 24, 1957 _William F. Buckley

    “The central question that emerges . . . is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not prevail numerically? The sobering answer is Yes-the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists.
    National Review believes that the South’s premises are correct. . . . It is more important for the community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority.”

    “Winner-take-all” is a perverse form of political gerrymandering of the franchise by race and/or party affiliation.

    “Winner-Take-All” is structurally anti-majoritarian and institutionally racially bias. “Winner-Take-All” concedes over half (~56%) of the Presidential Electors needed to select the President of the United States of America to the former 11 states that formed the Confederate States of America, providing incentives for suppressive Voter ID laws for the political neo-redemption of the CSA. “Winner-Take-All” is institutionally racially bias because when the Southern states go red in Presidential Elections it only counts the nearly 27% of general election white votes cast in the former Confederate States, while disregarding the near 46% of the general election black votes cast in those states.

    Neo-Redemption Gerrymandering of the Electoral College,
    Suffer Loss of Representatives to Congress
    July 18, 2013_GREEN PAGES Vol.17,No. 1-Summer 2013

    “Mr. Gordon raises some weighty issues having to do with the consequences or results of an electoral system where a minority, a minority number of votes are not recognized, that is when there is a winner-take-all system.”
    _ District Court Judge Henry H Kennedy Jr. , Jan.4th, 2011, Gordon et al v. Clerk, US House of Representatives.

    • 1mime says:

      Given Lifer’s tutelege on the “blue wall”, and knowing the lengths to which the GOP will go to secure party dominance, I expect that the red state legislatures will change the award of electoral votes differently in order to attain a 3-branch sweep. Frightening. Checks and balance – gone.

  4. […] coupled with this is that the Electoral College (how the US picks it’s President) is stacked against the GOP because their coalition lives in states that won’t give enough Electors to the candidate to […]

  5. EJK says:

    There is no such thing as a BLUE state or a RED state. There is no BLUE wall. It could be said that since 1992, there has been a popular vote wall for the GOP at 50.8%. But Sean Trende at RCP has covered this well. Since 1992, the GOP hasnt had good election dynamics and the Dems havent had bad election dynamics in a presidential election.

    No GOP incumbent has had a good economy like Reagan in 84, Nixon in 72 or Eisenhower in 56. Likewise no Dem incumbent has faced a situation like Carter in 80.

    If either of those situations occurred, I promise you many of the states behind the so called “Blue Wall” would crumble quickly. If the GOP candidate wins the popular vote, they will win the EV. The GOP candidate would carry, OH, FL (which are actually R+ states), CO, VA, IA and NV and probably NM would be a toss up. At 51%, the GOP would carry WI and NH. At 52% PA and MI and probably MN would fall.

    I think GOPlifer should probably leave the GOP.

    • jwthomas says:

      Chris Ladd with this essay has become the GOP’s best friend. Unfortunately for the GOP, it’s too dumb to see that.

      • DesertDavey says:

        True, but no surprise. It’s the result of the dumbing-down of the conservative electorate, which began in 1995 with the launch of FauxNews, and continues to this day.

        When SO MANY conservatives have come to believe, INSIST, on “facts” that are objectively false, you know they are on their way out. Mr. Ladd is one of the (few) serious, fact-based intellectuals left in the GOP. His party has moved, and continues to move, further from reality, and that trend shows no signs of slowing.

    • pbrower2a1 says:

      Political success depending upon a disaster is a suspect objective. I can imagine a situation in which the Republican Party is utterly destroyed — that the Republicans get a majority, start a war for profits, and get America mauled as the war goes badly . I heard one Republican Senator brag that America could bomb Iran into the Stone Age in a few weeks. I can also imagine the Republicans pushing repeats of the speculative booms of the 1920s and the Double-Zero Decade with results much the same in the end. Either way the Democrats pick up the political pieces, and the Republican Party goes into eclipse or oblivion.

      One of the supreme ironies of history is that in 2012, Barack Obama did not win a single state (except Hawaii which did not vote in the 1950s) that Dwight Eisenhower did not win TWICE. He got a long bull market without a speculative boom. Give the current President credit for whacking two of the worst terrorist menaces in American history and undoing the Receivership socialism that Dubya had to sign off on.

      • tzx4 says:

        “Republicans get a majority, start a war for profits, and get America mauled as the war goes badly”
        2002-03 and Mr Bush Jr come to mind.

  6. EJK says:

    “”Texas, which is at the core of GOP dysfunction, is a petro-state with an economy roughly as diverse and modern as Nigeria, Iran or Venezuela””

    This may indeed be one of the stupidest comments Ive ever read. This is satire correct?

    • Neville Arthur Ross says:

      No, it’s truth, and it’s truth that you and the other deluded silly neocons need to listen to. But of course, you all won’t listen, you all will just put your fingers in your ears like you usually do, going ‘Na na na na’ to block said truths.

      • M Simon says:

        There is quite a bit of electronics in Texas. You might have heard of one of the bigger companies in that market. Texas instruments.

    • pbrower2a1 says:

      No, it isn’t. Of course it may be an exaggeration because of Texas agriculture and some high-tech activity in Austin and Dallas. But even Michigan has more economic diversity than Texas.

  7. Allen_Insight says:

    Good Lord, you are a great writer!

  8. pbasch says:

    I will add one more thing that I should have put in my previous comment: the premise for social services in the first place is not biblically-based, but purely pragmatic and reality-based. A nation is stronger when it does not have a large underclass of poor, ignorant, and sick people. The point is to make the nation strong. I suspect that may be originally why this has been considered a social “good” since the development of human communities, and why it made its way into so many religious texts (including the Bible). This is also one of the reasons, I think, why communities that adopted religion did better than others. The concept of “looking out for your own” is fundamental. The modern challenge is to broaden the concept of what is “your own” to those who may be of different religion, ethnicity, language, etc.

  9. pbasch says:

    I’d just like to address the “theocracy” claim by Capt Sternn (great cartoon, by the way), which is the best thing so far on this comment stream (very interesting article, too, but the comment stream seems to have taken on a life of its own).
    Sternn says, “The left often claims that religious people might not give enough to religious charities to help people in need as the Bible commands, so they must have the government force the people to do as the Bible commands to help poor people and people in need. That is forcing religious beliefs on the people, theocracy.”
    Weird claim, but it has a simple answer: No.
    Nobody (I feel safe saying) on the left or even on the right says that. In fact, my anecdotal evidence is that those on the left are very impressed with the history of charitable giving on the right. Of course, a lot of it is tithing, which may or may not go to “the poor”, and probably goes more to salaries, administration, and buildings; and why not – they can do whatever they want with it. But it is well known that the religious right has a history of generous charitable contributions.
    Except for a smallish group of lefty evangelicals, the left generally does not refer to the Bible when figuring out what the proper role of government is. That’s as close to a tenet as the left has these days – separation of Church and State.
    The lefty consensus for social services, is that (a) religion-based charity tends to not be comprehensive, but very local. This is both its strength and its limitations. At its best, local charity is personal and face-to-face. On the other hand, it’s purely local, and there isn’t a guarantee that everyone will have access to it. So it isn’t fairly distributed. And (b) religion-based charity has the right to be selective. They will often couple evangelism with their charity, and those who resist being evangelized may find themselves cut off from charity; same goes for those who find religion distasteful. This is also not fair.
    The secular (non-theocratic) point of view is that social services should be distributed based on need for those services, not conditioned on extraneous characteristics such as willingness to pray, or mainstream appearance, or membership in certain religious, national, or ethnic groups.
    If a particular religion’s charitable services wants to focus on needy members of that religion, that’s perfectly fine. Good for them. But it doesn’t solve a national policy problem of relieving poverty or want.
    In short, the theocracy claim is a crock.

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