Isn't this easily summarizable as:

* Republicans could no longer win a majority with their old coalition, so

* They needed a coalition that punches way above its weight in the electoral college/senate/gerrymandered states

* That coalition is one of rural voters, especially non-college whites (and increasingly working-class Hispanics), but

* That coalition doesn't show up for off-year elections, flipping the historical midterm turnout edge from slightly red to deeply blue

Expand full comment

The GOP needs to find a sunny conservative who is not angry and conspiratorial and run them. A Reagan Republican. I think Glenn Youngkin would be an excellent choice. I disagree with him on many issues but he is not nutjob and I think would appeal to moderates.

The Conservative movement in general has driven itself into a ditch by supporting various extreme anti-intellectual and anti-science positions. This excites the base but doesn't bring moderates in and also has the problem of exciting liberals as well.

Expand full comment

Conservatives have literally picked everything that would make them hated by 60% of voters. They won't budge on their hate based policies and all it takes is people showing up to vote for the conservatives to lose outside of their strongholds.

If Democrats ran an abortion referendum in every state during the Trump election along with a referendum to give back the right to vote to all convicts and felons, they would probably finish off the Republican party.

Expand full comment

Lots to think about here. I’m gonna work through a thought or two that you got me thinkin’. 🤔

Trump’s disruption of the GOP works to a large extent because he’s changed the magnitude of interaction between personality and politics - in that personality needs to be extreme AND genuine, now.

For instance, you can have *genuine* charismatic bombast (Trump) or *genuine* tightwound schoolmarm prudistry (Mike Johnson) to succeed.

Most GOP candidates didn’t had *genuine* and *extreme* in their personality lexicon before Trump. Lots of GOP since might try on extreme but it doesn’t code genuine, or capable.

Herschel Walker? No. Desantis? No. Jim Jordan? Not even him.

Gaetz? Yes. MTG? Yes. Boebert? Yes. Lake? Hell yes.

You can’t run *against* that in-group without looking fake. Whoever wants to next run the GOP needs a maxed out charisma stat that’s based on something real within them.

Anyone else interested in how this idea might play out should check out Geoff Cohen’s excellent “Party Over Policy” paper from ... 2003.

( Christ, time flies. )


Expand full comment

I recently read (can’t remember where) that Dems are becoming/have become the party of low-turnout elections (although the jury was always kind of out on whether higher turnout really did help them or not) -- can you speak to this swing at all, both in terms of the claim’s veracity and how it intersects with the trends you’re seeing here?

Expand full comment

"Joe Biden’s 4.5-point margin over Trump in 2022" - I assume you meant 2020?

Expand full comment

The elections while Trump was president were about voting against the incumbent's party. That's normal. 2021 was very good for Republicans while Biden and the Democrats had control in Washington. Again, normal. What's changed since? It's ABORTION. If you pay attention to the facts on the ground, to what Republicans are doing, rather than to the conservative talking points, it looks like plans for a theocracy, and Americans don't want that. (If you want the evidence there's an excellent substack by Jessica Valenti, who's been covering the issue since Dobbs).

The voters turning out in these elections, however, are self-selected to care more about this issue and this threat. In an election when everybody turns out, like next year's presidential election, it's not at all clear that Democrats can maintain an edge. I think the results of elections while Biden has been president are completely consistent with polling showing him losing to Trump.

The voters who will decide this election are those who really dislike both candidates. Within that group, it's the voters who haven't voted since 2020 that I would be most concerned about as a Democrat. And again, this is consistent with the polling. The good news for Democrats is these are lower info, lower engagement voters, and they really aren't sold on Trump, so there's an opening for persuasion. The bad news is they have really really negative views of Biden, and if that changes it will be because of changes in the real world environment, not anything the campaign does. If Biden is going to be the nominee, and that's still an if afaiac, the only option I see is to convince these voters that Republicans are worse. Normally you would say Biden's numbers are bad enough that this can't work, but then these Republicans are exceptional too, so who knows. I think this is a rare case where you can argue 'this time IS different'. But I think that just introduces more uncertainty rather than changing who's favored.

Expand full comment

"...it’s not clear how the GOP breaks out of the trap."

What if they...just started picking more electorally popular positions and selecting more sane candidates???

Expand full comment

Like Stalin and Mao, Trump fever in the GOP will only break a year or two after Trump dies, when Republicans can safely criticize him.

Expand full comment

Hot take - the rising Democratic majority thesis was right, Republicans are only competitive when they run a Democrat (Trump)

Expand full comment

The US system seems to strongly favor two-party equilibriums, but there have been a few historical changes of which parties those were. What would it take to trigger another such change?

Expand full comment

i assume you have received my first response, but this exchange highlights the fundamental problem we are having in our country now; ie., the ability to have honest discussions about important, sensitive topics. Topics we hope to find a common ground without resorting to name calling, misinformation challenges, or a general lack of good faith. I think I have implied several times how my position on this topic has changed and seek to find what is an acceptable half-way point from left. Is the only acceptable position now that abortion is now unrestricted up to and including the moment of birth? Is it all or nothing? Even under Roe vs Wade, limited abortion was allowed but Dobbs was only about whether the right was embedded or implied in the Constitution and whether it should be a right graded by the states. Some states and communities have taken different positions as our funding fathers intended in the method they used of creating this country. I may not like what Minnesota did but it is their right. All I can say is that I worry what 2024 will bring us. We have become so polarized that we cannot talk to one another

Expand full comment

I cannot find the exact situation right now from the Minnesota law passed in March of this year and perhaps I slightly overstated its effect but essentially the law passed by the legislature legalizes abortion up to and including the moment of birth. So what does the moment at birth mean? you tell me.

Expand full comment

Thisisnot Arealname I am delighted by your fine writing, apt diction, and good humor. Thank you!

A lifelong Democrat in New England, I worked hard at times to get some Republicans elected. Where one party (Democrat or Republican) had been dominant, then grew corrupt, there existed another party wherein you could find an honorable competent candidate who was moderate and practical.

I very much miss New England republicans. Tolerant tension with us Democrats made the path straighter towards good government. Today, valid interlocutors for a conservative point have left the GOP.

One cannot overstate the vast harm done to the US by the Fox propaganda machine. It has taught a generation to abandon truth for lies and improbable belief for evidence. There is much to be done.

Expand full comment

The media loves Trump. They love to cover how awful he is, they love to cover his heterodoxies to argue that he is secretly moderate, they love to say he has an unbeatable cynical power over voters, they love to say the Democrats are causing this all to happen. In general, the media loves to cover candidates that voters hate, because voters love to read about what they hate and fear.

But Biden shows that moderates can win with voters, even if the media is complaining about it in sporadic fits of boredom. Strategically what the GOP has to do is clear, it's the primary electorate that they have to convince of this. That's the real trap.

I think their best bet to make that transition would be someone who is not a whiny "anti-Trump" Republican or a "Trump 2.0" Republican, but a courageously heterodox Republican inspired by Trump's disruption model. I don't know who that is - I don't think Nicki Haley or Chris Christie are cutting it. But suppose for example they magically nominated Andrew Yang - I think that would quickly reset the GOP brand.

Expand full comment

I am not sure passing Unrestricted Abortion is anything to brag about, but then I have maintained for a while that Dobb's is a case of winning a battle but losing the war. At the present time, I think women are generally better educated (as a group) than men and are energized to vote on social issues. More getting degrees, more staying single and getting married later, more not having children, etc.

Ever since 2016 and perhaps even before, but ever since Trump, Democratic Candidates have seriously outspent Republican. Did some quick checks this morning and just looking at the 6 year financial summary for the Senate, Democrats outspent Republicans by $238 million to $114 million (FEC data https://www.fec.gov/campaign-finance-data/congressional-candidate-data-summary-tables/?year=2024&segment=6) Just look at the spending on the AZ Senate race and the amount of money Adam Schiff and Katherine Porter are getting.

There is a lot of truth to what Nate Silver has to say, but I also think there are a lot other elements affecting the vote. For sure the censorship industry is playing a big part and a lot of money behind making sure that tech people get their way. Even so, Republicans in the states, generally are not doing bad with approximately 27 state Legislatures controlled by Republicans. As Nate would say, all (almost) elections are local, but it is disconcerting that last night did not seemed to be affected by world events. I am worried about 2024. Not by who may be elected but by the upheaval being forecasted.

Expand full comment