Democracy Has Prevailed.

May 22, 2009

More More Bad News For The GOP

Yesterday, I wrote about the Gallup poll showing a marked decline in the number of Republicans in this great great country of ours.

There's more from The National Journal. More evidence, I guess, of the GOP becoming a regional party. Take a look:

Founded in the decade before the Civil War as the Northern voice of union, the Republican Party today is more electorally dependent on the South than at any point in its past.

In the House and Senate, nearly half of all Republicans were elected from that region, defined as the 11 states of the Confederacy, plus Kentucky and Oklahoma. In each chamber, Southerners are a larger share of the Republican caucus than ever before. Similarly, beginning with the 1992 presidential election, the South has provided at least 59 percent of the Electoral College votes won by the GOP nominee, including by George W. Bush in his 2000 and 2004 victories. That percentage is nearly double the South's share of all Electoral College votes and by far the most that GOP presidential nominees have relied on the region over any sustained period.

Republican strength in the South has both compensated for and masked the extent of the GOP's decline elsewhere. By several key measures, the party is now weaker outside the South than at any time since the Depression; in some ways, it is weaker than ever before.

Since Bush's re-election in 2004, the GOP has lost ground electorally in the South and the rest of the nation. But the erosion has been much more severe outside the South. That dynamic has threatened Republicans with a spiral of concentration and contraction. Because the party has lost so much ground elsewhere, the South represents an increasing share of what remains -- both in Congress and in its electoral coalition. The party's increasing identification with staunch Southern economic and social conservatism, however, may be accelerating its decline in more-moderate-to-liberal areas of the country, including the Northeast and the West Coast. "Many of the things they have done to become the dominant party in the South have caused them to be less successful in other places," said veteran Democratic strategist Bill Carrick, a South Carolina native.
I take it that the GOP pie is getting smaller everywhere but since it's shrinking slower in the Confederacy (with OK and KY), that region's exerting a greater hold on the party.

There's no way to know how this will play out in the decades ahead but in the short term it's gotta be, at the very least, disheartening to be a Republican these days.


Richmond K. Turner said...

I don't really understand why you think that fewer members of the GOP is necessarily a good thing. The people who have defected from the Republican Party, and who have now become Democrats, haven't really changed their own views. They still have the same opinions as they had before, but something in the current condition of the GOP has pushed them away.

What this means is that the Democratic Party is taking on a boatload of people who have generally conservative beliefs. They are a bunch of flat tax advocates, social safety net dismantlers, union haters, and balanced budget seekers... and they are now Democrats. Inevitably, they will pull the Democratic party away from some of the core principals that drive it.

To put it another way, take a look at Pittsburgh politics. There is no GOP at all. Anyone and everyone who wants to participate in politics has to be a Democrat. The result is that being a Pittsburgh Democrat means basically nothing at all. We have a mayor who claims to be a Democrat, but whose views on many issues largely conform to the national Republican party. We have a machine that largely picks the candidates for us. We have general elections that are meaningless, and instead rely on primaries -- with abysmally low turnout -- to choose our elected officials.

A shrinking GOP will only be good news if it causes the GOP to change in ways that will attract these conservatives back, and gets them out of the Democratic tent before they render the national Democratic identity meaningless. As yet, I have seen no indications that the GOP is willing to do this.

Which means that our nation is in danger of developing a political system as high-functioning as the one in Pittsburgh. I wouldn't call that a good thing.

Ol' Froth said...

I agree that a one-party system is a very, very bad thing, but if the Dems were to split now into fiscal conservative and liberal wings, it would allow a rump republican party based on racism and bigotry to regai n some power. Absent a parlimentary, multi party system, I really think the rump republican party should be destroyed, ala the Whigs, in order for a viable two party system to arise.