Saturday, September 3, 2016

The divergent party, Part I

Let's start another multi-part series.  I don't have a destination yet.  I'll figure it out as I write.

Right now, the Republican Party is underperforming at the presidential level.  According to the Alan Abramowitz "Time for a Change" predictive model, a generic Republican should be winning now.  One party rarely wins three terms in a row.  That requires an economy to be growing like gangbusters.  The economy is growing, but not that strongly.  Why aren't Republicans winning?  Trump.

A big part of this is likely to be that he mobilizes non-whites.  And non-whites are a growing proportion of the population.  I am skeptical of demography as destiny type arguments, but that doesn't mean demographic trends don't matter.

And yet, at the House level, Republicans are nearly a lock.  Why?  Because of a different type of demographic issue.  Democrats cluster in cities.  And, at the state level, Republicans do just fine, giving them control of state legislatures and governorships.

Notice that they do so with policy platforms that are little different from Trump's, and that's my key point for today.

The Republican Party has divergent levels of success with the same essential platform.  There are a lot of reasons for that.  Different electorates, different candidates, different circumstances, blah, blah, blah.  This is merely a reminder that, for those predicting DOOM, DOOM, DOOM! for the Republican Party if it adheres to Trumpian platforms, um, have you looked at the state level?

So, let's have another reminder of basic, high school civics.  "Federalism."  Responsibilities of government are divided between the federal, state and local level.  And yet, the divisions are not strict.  Sort of a marble cake type of thing.  Even with immigration, state and local governments have some involvement, and in a lot of places, Republicans have done just fine with Trumpian platforms.

Not everywhere.  California is a lesson.  In 1994, incumbent Governor Pete Wilson took a sort of Trumpian turn on immigration, basing his reelection campaign on an immigration-related ballot proposition (Prop. 187), won reelection, and effectively mobilized Latinos against the Republican Party in the state so strongly that the state has been mostly lost to the party since (with the odd exception of the Governator).

But that brings us back to the geographic clustering issue.  The clustering of Latinos in the Southwest, should it persist, would insulate the GOP House majority, leaving the GOP divergent in its electoral success.

The divergent party.

Where am I going with this?  I dunno.  I'll figure it out as I write.

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