One glance at this election forecast map, created by Nate Silver's organization, fivethirtyeight.com, and anyone can see that, as of this moment, Trump is on the verge of destroying the Republican party. Never mind the traditional swing states of Ohio, Virginia, and Florida where she's leading comfortably, as of this writing, Hillary is leading in Arizona! In North Carolina! In Georgia! She's on track to win 365 of the country's 538 electoral votes.
Important note about this map: it estimates the probability that each candidate will win a given state. It does not indicate the polling margins. So, according to the map, Hillary has an 87% chance of winning the general election based on current polling data. She does not have an 87 to 13 lead in the polls!
If it falls out this way, the way this map seems to indicate --well, that's a blowout. It could very well kill off what is left of the Republican party. And I sincerely hope that it comes to pass.
But, of course, as the son of an ultra-competitive football coach, I'm well-acquainted with the folly of taking comfort from an early lead.
So, in the interest of firing up my fellow liberals and progressives, consider what we stand to gain if Trump is routed in November:
- This would be the fourth popular vote victory for Democrats in the last 5 national elections. Republicans have long known that they're losing the demographic war, but a blowout this year means it's over. It means they have lost. The much-mentioned-but-ultimately-ignored GOP autopsy performed by Reince Priebus in the wake of Romney's 2012 loss will have proven both prophetic and futile. In spite of recognizing the need to build bridges with minority voters, the GOP will have proved itself incapable of overcoming the racism they began nurturing with their infamous Southern Strategy.
- A Hillary victory will mean anywhere from 1 to 3 Supreme Court nominations from a Democrat rather than a Republican. For many years, progressives have endured horrendous decisions handed down by an anachronistic, reactionary court shaped by Republican presidents. (Citizens United is the most egregious example.) But, with Antonin Scalia's death earlier this year, and with Anthony Kennedy (80) and Ruth Bader Ginsberg (83) getting a little --er --long in the tooth, we have the chance to pack the court with young(ish) progressive justices. As we all know, the Supreme Court molds our national culture as much or more than does the President, or even Congress.
- And here's a tantalizing morsel for any Bernie Bros out there who can scarcely stomach the thought of voting for Hillary: if the Republican party collapses, the Democratic party won't be far behind. I wrote a piece about this idea back in 2010 (you can read it here). My hopes that year didn't bear fruit, but I think the idea is still valid. Quoting from my earlier post:
"If the GOP ceases to exist, it will kill the Democrats! If the Democrats are deprived of their ability to define themselves against the Republicans, they will fracture into their component parts: labor unions, environmentalists, racial and religious minorities, blue-collar workers, et alia. New alliances and coalitions would necessarily form, unrestrained by the corrupted two-party system. At long last, progressives would have a chance to make real change. We'd have to do it the way liberals always do: by bringing people together, building coalitions, working with others. But we'd have a better chance than we have now."Folks, complacency is our enemy. Donald Trump's shocking implosion offers tantalizing possibilities for reshaping the political landscape. But it will only happen if he is not just beaten, but crushed.
So don't get overconfident in this period when Trump seems to be crashing and burning. The polls (and thus, the probabilities) will change. And, as we learned on that terrible day of November 2, 2004, one must never underestimate the stupidity of the American people.
What matters for the Republican Party the most is how down-ticket voting goes. If Republicans retain the House and Senate then they can say that the problem was with the candidate, not the party.
If Trump takes down the rest of the party until it is out of power then there will be another round of soul-searching. The problem is that the core of the vote (those who vote in primaries) are those who are full of this bigoted, angry outrage that Trump is using. The quandary for Republican politicians is that they can only get elected at the local level if they are unelectable at the national level.
The destruction of the Republicans will mean a move of more centrist Republicans to the Democrats, making them a centrist governing party.
The old-school establishment will win in the end. Socially the country will continue to move to the left. Economically there will be some minor fiddling with tax rates, and the USA will be pretty much what it has been for decades.
Your autopsy on the Democratic Party, if you please?
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