In light of Trump’s soon-to-be nomination, I’ve seen my share of headlines writing up the eulogy of the GOP. But to crib a quote from Mark Twain “the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Here are five reasons why.
- The Republican party still maintains total control at the state level. Right now Republicans have full control over 30 state legislatures. 31 states are currently being run by GOP governors. In some ways, the Republican party has never been stronger, as states across the country have pursued strict conservative policy agendas for the past few years — dramatically cutting state taxes, implementing strict voter ID laws designed to limit voting, attacking the human rights of gay and transgender people and restricting access to abortion for women. Donald Trump may be throwing a wrench into the GOP’s plans at the presidential level — but things are still going according to plan for Republicans in the states.
- Establishment congressional candidates are still leading and winning Republican nominations. Seth Masket over at FiveThirtyEight just put out a piece noting how little impact Trumps nomination is having on ‘down-ballot’ races across the country. In many major contests the guys’ you’d expect to be running and winning are doing just that, indicating that one; Trump’s entrance into the race didn’t inspire copycats in congressional or senate races and two; Trump being on primary ballots didn’t harm establishment-type candidates. Now, obviously the sample size is small and only time will tell if others emerge to take the Trump mantle, but either way, it’s well too soon to bury this election cycle.
- The Conservative infrastructure which powers the Republican party is stronger than ever. Wealthy donors and corporate interests (think the Koch Brothers, Art Pope, or Grover Norquist) have poured billions of dollars into building a massive conservative infrastructure of research organizations, advocacy groups and even academic institutions to push a severely conservative agenda across the country. These organizations do it all from authoring ‘research’ meant to support conservative policy, rallying grassroots support among its conservative base to hold lawmakers accountable, and providing cookie-cutter legislation to policymakers on issues ranging from corporate deregulation, to stand your ground gun bills. This coordinated effort is alive and well in 2016 with no signs of slowing. In fact, in recent years the right has moved to take this national and state level strategy local.
- While the gap is closing, folks who identify as conservative still outnumber liberals. The U.S. is a remarkably conservative country. A Gallup poll from 2014 noted that nearly 40 percent of Americans identified as conservative — significantly higher than the share identifying as liberal. In a piece from last year, Pew researchers noted that people who identify as conservative are more politically active — contacting lawmakers, donating money or volunteering with a campaign. It’s not surprise either that these folks are also more likely to vote in mid-term elections. This electoral edge won’t be fading for a while.
- Hillary’s lead in the polls isn’t nearly as bulletproof as many believe it to be. According to Vox, Clinton’s only ahead of Trump by around 6 points in the polls. A lead, for sure, but nothing insurmountable. As more people start to pay attention to the race come late Summer, we should count on that gap to close even more nationally. It would be very difficult to claim the GOP is dead if its voter base were able to power as flawed a candidate as Donald Trump to the White House.