Republicans are totally ignoring the 2018 election

Posted at 5:30 PM, Dec 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-03 19:30:43-05

After Republicans lost the 2012 presidential election, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus commissioned an election autopsy report — known as the “Growth and Opportunity Project” — to grapple with the demographic (and other) problems presented by the defeat.

Six years later, Republicans suffered another near-total loss: 39 seats and counting in the House, seven governor’s mansions and hundreds of seats in state legislatures across the country.

How did they handle this latest defeat? By changing absolutely nothing.

This, from Jonathan Martin in the Sunday New York Times, is eye-opening stuff:

“Yet nearly a month after the election, there has been little self-examination among Republicans about why a midterm that had seemed at least competitive became a rout.

“President Trump has brushed aside questions about the loss of the chamber entirely, ridiculing losing incumbents by name, while continuing to demand Congress fund a border wall despite his party losing many of their most diverse districts. Unlike their Democratic counterparts, Republicans swiftly elevated their existing slate of leaders with little debate, signaling a continuation of their existing political strategy.”

This is, definitionally, whistling past the political graveyard. I’ll give you two reasons why:

1) In 2014, Republican House candidates carried suburban voters by 12 points over Democrats. In 2018? The suburban vote split evenly between the two parties: 49% each.

2) In 2014, Republicans lost among women 51% to 47%. In 2018? Republicans lost women by 19 points.

Those are not problems that will fix themselves. Nor are they problems that will simply go away when the 2020 presidential race starts. (Oh, who am I kidding?! It’s already started.)

So why aren’t Republicans doing anything about all of this? Fear, mostly. To acknowledge that the 2018 election was a bad one and that major course corrections are needed is to go against President Donald Trump and his preferred narrative about the last election, which goes basically like this: Everything is great!

I’m not, really, exaggerating. Here’s Trump’s analysis of the election results in his day-after press conference on November 7: “To be honest — I’ll be honest, I thought it was a — I thought it was a very close to complete victory.”

It wasn’t. Not close. And by pretending as though everything is totally fine and THERE IS NOTHING TO SEE HERE, Republicans are flirting with forgetting this most fundamental rule of politics and life from philosopher George Santayana: “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

The Point: Elections have consequences. Or at least they should.