Startling snapshot of new political landscape
He was a vitriol-spewing demagogue, and no group felt his wrath more than the gay community. Claiming public schools wanted to distribute “gay kits” to turn students into homosexuals, he also suggested that parents beat effeminate boys, and said he would rather have a dead son than a gay one.
Yet Jair Bolsonaro was just elected Brazil’s president. And here’s the kicker: He did so with substantial support from the gay community, as at least 29 percent of gays supported Bolsonaro – a number likely under-represented.
So what does it tell us that one-third of gays supported a candidate who slandered them? And what should we glean from someone who prided himself in going low, yet came out on top?
Easy. Traditional assumptions no longer apply, and those adhering to them will reap the consequences. Brazil had 64,000 (yes, 64,000) murders last year, and many gay citizens cited Bolsonaro’s commitment to physical security as their motivation for backing him. Others favored his economic plan. What matters is that they supported him, proving that voters cannot be neatly “boxed.”
It’s no different here.
For all the talk of Donald Trump being a racist, misogynist, and white nationalist, he continues to garner support from non-traditional constituencies. Blacks, Latinos, gays, and various other subsets supported Mr. Trump at levels not seen in decades. He and the Republicans are still far from gaining a majority of such voters, but increased support for the GOP will wreak havoc on pollsters in future elections.
Let’s put the nation’s new political landscape into perspective:
• With limited exceptions, the Republican Party is not a factor in any state that touches salt water, from Virginia Beach to the Canadian border. Throw in Democratic Vermont (it’s landlocked for the geographically challenged) and Pennsylvania (with a significantly reduced GOP Legislature, and crushing wins for the Democratic governor and U.S. candidates), and you have a solid Democratic stronghold.
• The Left coast is even more alarming for the GOP, since one can drive from Vancouver to Tijuana without passing through a single Republican-held district.
And yet, overall, the recent election was still a good night for Republicans, since they beat back the anticipated “Blue Wave.” In fact, Mr. Trump outperformed historical averages (Bill Clinton lost 53 seats, and Barack Obama 63).
On to 2020: Republican predictions that “socialist Democrats” will be the foil that helps Mr. Trump get re-elected are premature. First, Mr. Trump may not even run. Second, while there may be an element of truth as it relates to the presidential race, overall GOP enthusiasm may not rise to the level required to retake the House. It will be harder to rally the base because of the “boy who cried wolf” stigma. It remains to be seen whether anti-Democrat fervor can trump disappointment with a party that promised big, but delivered little, despite solid majorities: no border wall, skyrocketing deficits, and intact Obamacare.
That said, the U.S. Senate map in 2020 favors the GOP. They could lose a few seats, but will surely win Alabama. The biggest question will be whether media darling Beto O’Rourke (who lost a close race to unlikable Ted Cruz) will flip Texas against incumbent John Cornyn.
The main reason that Republicans lost lies in their inexcusable failure to message. This author has been a lone voice for a decade, beating his head against the wall in advocating that Republicans run multimillion-dollar ad campaigns year-round, not just during election season when everything is lost to white noise. The ads should be predominantly non-partisan – i.e., not slamming Obama and Hillary, but outlining what they’ve done, and their vision, a la Reagan, for the future.
Had they articulated such a plan, Obamacare would have been repealed, funding for the wall would have been appropriated, and a majority would have supported the travel ban, corporate tax cuts, tariffs, and even the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. But they didn’t. Instead, the inside-the-Beltway cocoon prevented GOP leadership from seeing the forest for the trees. The result was losing close races that should have been won.
Lastly, at least we have pundit Dick Morris keeping things consistent. From stating that Mitt Romney would win in a landslide in 2012, to saying Republicans would keep the House this year, he provides constant entertainment in an all-too-serious world.
Onward to 2020!