by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
As many Republicans talk about the need to rebrand the GOP before the next presidential election, a column in Britain’s primary left-of-center newspaper, The Guardian, challenges the notion that Republicans need to change anything.
Just how screwed is the Republican party electorally? We all know Mitt Romney lost by nearly 4 points, and the Republican party has won the national vote for president only once since 1992. That’s likely why there’s a lot of pressure for Republicans to pass immigration reform to “get with the times” and not lose the growing Latino vote for a generation. I, however, continue to think the idea that Republicans have to adjust to win national elections is hogwash.
Why do I say such a thing?
1. Voters thought Mitt Romney was actually closer to them ideologically. …
… Voters were asked where they put themselves ideologically and then to place each of the candidates on the same ideological scale. Throughout the campaign, the average voter was closer ideologically to Mitt Romney than to President Obama.
That, of course, doesn’t match the hype these days. You could, of course, argue that Mitt Romney was closer to the center than the average Republican politician, but the facts don’t really bare it out. His donor base, which can be used to measure ideology since people most often donate to those they line up with on the issues, ended up being right in the middle of those of the last Congress. Same goes with the congressional endorsements he racked up during the primary: they were in the center of the caucus.
Then how the heck did Obama win? Again, it goes back to the fact that ideology doesn’t matter much in presidential elections. The economy was doing well enough, so voters rewarded President Obama with another term.
Two other factors the column cites: favorable 2016 polling numbers and Republican success in many off-year elections since 1994.
Your faithful correspondent searched for the line that suggested writer Harry J. Enten was offering this analysis in jest or with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Either Enten’s subtlety escapes me, or he’s serious.