Will a Republican Ever Again Win the Presidency?
The chances of a Republican victory in a presidential election are continually diminishing with each succeeding cycle, to the point that a Republican victory from this point forward will have to be regarded as an exceedingly unlikely occurrence.
There are three main reasons:
We’ll look at this in the post-World War II era only, because that’s the time period most relevant to this discussion. According to official U.S. Census data, the percentage of the U.S. population defined as White has declined from 89.5% in 1950 to 72.4% in 2010. Black percentage (yes, the Census uses ‘Black,’ not ‘African American’) has gone from 10.0% in 1950 to 12.6% in 2010. But it’s the Hispanic category that has shown the most dramatic change, rising from 2.1% in 1950 to 16.3% in 2010, with the vast majority of that gain from 1990 onwards. Conventional wisdom says that Republicans get a large portion of their voting support from “traditional” White voters, while the Black and Hispanic blocs are cited to be substantial majority supporters of Democrats. It’s quite clear that both the raw percentages and the demographic trends are moving very strongly in the Democrats’ favor and will continue to do so, for reasons that are well understood.
- Liberal media bias
The mainstream “traditional” media (TV, print, over-the-air radio, etc.) is overwhelmingly liberal and favors so-called Democratic causes such as Pro Choice, Affirmative Action, various Green/Alternative Energy initiatives, gender/sexual-orientation-based policies, relaxed immigration, a less prominent military posture, etc. The new media like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat etc. are also liberally-slanted, since time and again, intentional or unthinkingly automatic-but-unintentional anti-conservative biases and actions have been revealed at these sources. The only overtly intentionally-conservative media outlets are some AM talk radio programming, certain Fox News cable TV opinion shows, like Hannity, and websites like Americanthinker.com, Brietbart.com, or Daily Caller.com.
The takeaway is this: Every single American is exposed to countless liberal impressions and programs each day, whether they want to be or agree with it or not. But... in order to hear or see intentionally conservative news and opinion, it must be explicitly sought out. For those people who don’t ever wish to be exposed to conservative thought, it’s easily avoided.
Let’s make some logical, defensible assumptions here: There is a certain percentage of the electorate that will always vote Democrat or Republican, regardless of the actual qualifications or characteristics of the candidate. For the sake of conversation, let’s assign the number of 40% to each side. That leaves 20% in the middle, as so-called “undecideds.” Included in this 20% are the large bloc of voters we can refer to as the “casually-attentive,” those voters who barely pay attention to the various issues, who make up their mind at the last minute based on looks or ‘feel,’ and then go right back to their non-attentive ways immediately following the election.
This group also gets the repeated automatic exposure and repetitive daily liberal impressions from the traditional mainstream media and the new media. They’re on Facebook every day, they hear the news on TV, they see the headlines of the NY Times in the lunchroom at work, etc. They don’t intentionally seek out conservative sources like Hannity or Rush, because these voters are, by definition, “casually attentive.” All their inputs are liberal, over and over and over.
Whether this middle segment is 40-20-40 or 45-10-45 or 35-30-35 makes no difference. That middle casually-attentive voting bloc—the bloc that decides virtually every election—receives only liberal media inputs.
- Democrats’ mastery of the quick sound bite
Democrats are far better at playing the ‘quick, memorable, impactful sound bite’ game than Republicans. Those snappy phrases and dicta get picked up and repeated by the media continually, until they become part of the national political lexicon. The result is that many of the election-swinging casually-attentive voters subconsciously absorb these as being true, with predictably disastrous results for Republicans.
Here are just a few:
- Bush lied, people died.
- Tax cuts for the rich.
- Republicans are waging a War on Women.
- The rich need to pay their ‘fair share.’
- Wall Street greed caused the housing collapse.
- Republicans are anti-Hispanic.
- Republicans are homophobic.
- Global Warming is the fault of profit-hungry Republicans.
- Republican-led Big Drug companies are ripping you off.
It may be a bit more difficult to pin down the reasons as to why Democrats are so much better at this, but they are. Republicans continually make the mistake of thinking that the merits of the argument will carry the day. It doesn’t. A long drawn-out, logical, sequential explanation may be effective in a court of law, but in a 7-second attention span world, it’s the quick memorable sound bite that wins the day. There are no Republican equivalents to the above Democratic talking points. Smartly, Democrats have an effective sound bite crafted for every single one of their voting support groups: women, environmentalists, African-Americans, Hispanics, gender-oriented and so on. Every group has several Democratic sound bites targeted right at them.
Until and unless Republicans can condense their best persuasive arguments down into 7-second snapshots (and those Republican points had better be factual, a requirement the Democrats can happily dance around, since their liberal media allies never call them on it), casually attentive voters will remain elusive and unconvinced.
All three of these major reason categories are moving in the wrong direction for Republicans. The demographics are becoming more Democratic-sympathetic with each succeeding election cycle. In an ever-expanding portable device world, new liberal media outlets are being created constantly, all by liberally-sympathetic curators, aimed at younger, liberally-oriented audiences. And finally, Republicans -- perhaps because of the very nature of their ‘logical, sequential’ mindset -- are falling farther and farther behind in their ability to adapt to the changing media/communications landscape.
If the Republicans don’t win in 2016, then (assuming a 2-term Democratic presidency), their next shot will be 2024 and by then, their hill will be significantly steeper. Maybe too steep.