by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A remarkable thing just happened. The presidential candidate that voters believe less, like less, and think less qualified won the election. In other words, rather than endure four more years of elite progressive rule, the American people chose to gamble on a reality-television star with well-known and openly notorious character flaws. That’s how much they were ready for change.
Let’s be very, very clear: This election ultimately wasn’t about defeating the “establishment.” It was about defeating the progressive establishment. The Republican establishment — the hated “GOPe” — ends this year with more power than it’s enjoyed in a century, and perhaps since Reconstruction. Mitch McConnell is more powerful. Paul Ryan is more powerful. The Republican party will control the White House, Congress, judicial nominations, and the vast majority of the states. The Republican party runs the United States.
The GOP presidential landslides of 1972, 1980, 1984, and 1988 were inconsequential by comparison, resulting in divided government and with Democrats far more ascendant at the state level. By contrast, there is now a Republican governor of Vermont. And if you think that Trump carried down-ballot Republicans to victory, think again. He undoubtedly helped secure victories in states such as Indiana, Missouri, and Pennsylvania, but in Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, and Wisconsin, the Republican Senate victor won more votes than Trump. In close losses like Nevada and (perhaps) New Hampshire, the GOP Senate candidate also out-polled Trump.
Tea-party Republicans won. Establishment center-right Republicans won. And they won not just because Republican voters turned out — GOP turnout wasn’t particularly heavy, and Trump is likely to win roughly the same number of votes that Romney did — but because Democrats stayed home by the millions.