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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Tomasky: GOP’s Shrinking Membership and Ideas Give Dems Edge

One of Michael Tomasky’s best posts, “Obama Is Winning Because of the Shrinking GOP” provides a lucid overview of the presidential race. With a little luck, the trend he describes could prevail through November.
Tomasky begins with the observation that Romney is “losing to an incumbent who, given the current economic conditions, ought to be pretty easy to take out” and sketches a pretty good snapshot of the current political moment:

The race is close, and of course Romney has a decent shot at winning. But the fact is that by every measure, he’s behind. He’s behind, a little, in national polls. He’s behind by more in the swing states. And behind by still more in the electoral college conjectures, where Nate Silver gives Obama 294 votes. Obama leads–narrowly, but outside the margin of error–in Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, and Nevada. If he wins those and holds the usual Democratic states–and yes, he’s up in Pennsylvania, where Romney has been sinking fast; only Michigan is really close–he will have won, even with maybe $1.5 billion thrown at him, a not-particularly close election.

Tomasky adds that, given the current economic reality, the divisions over the Affordable Care Act and the midterm elections, Romney should be up by six percent or so. Yet Silver gives Obama a 66 percent chance of winning, nonetheless. “…If that’s still the number after both conventions,” says Tomasky, “it’s pretty close to over.”
It’s not just the ‘likeability’ factor, argues Tomasky. It’s that a critical mass of voters are recognizing the GOP as the party of the aristocracy

Thomas Jefferson argued roughly that it was in the nature of mankind to divide itself, wherever there be free government, into two basic factions: an aristocratic party that wishes to “draw all powers…into the hands of the higher classes,” as he once put it; and a party that opposes that one, representing the broader people. The GOP has, I admit, done a marvelous job of convincing the media and even some liberals that it is the party of the people, because of its hold on the white working-class majority (a segment that is fast dwindling, by the way–electoral demographer Ruy Teixeira reported recently that this bloc will constitute a sizeable 3 percent less of the electorate this year than it did in 2008–the minority vote will overtake the white working-class by 2016 or certainly 2020).

The GOP plays the cultural card exceptionally well, so much so that they are still able to get strong support from the white working class, even though the Republicans offer them nothing in the way of economic security. Tomasky explains that “they must know on some level that the party does not represent them in the least economically. But they accept the deal, and it permits the people who are the real heart and soul of the GOP, the corporate titans and the plutocrats, to call whatever economic shots they wish.”

But their crossover appeal, shall we say, is limited. Throw in their lickspittles on Capitol Hill and in the right-wing media, and their neo-Leninist political tactics, and the picture gets even worse. The lot of them look like a bunch of grim Pharisees, and it’s all too obvious that all they really care about is cutting rich people’s taxes…I the Bain controversy is hurting Romney, and most indications are that it is, that would appear to mean that more Americans than just left-wingers are taking the issue seriously… The party has no moderate faction anymore. The GOP today is a rump amalgamation of plutocrats and the people who service their air conditioning. Its middle has been hollowed out.

Tomasky notes that Romney is “a pretty perfect expression of what the GOP has become.” Yet, he cautions, “Mitt might win. A presidential election is a menu with only two options, meat and fish. And if fish has $1.5 billion behind it, and is financing a successful drive to keep meat supporters from being able to vote in key states, then fish can pull out a victory. But the odds are against it for a good reason, a reason that Jefferson identified.”
Given Tomasky’s insights, the Democrats’ have a clear challenge — to define the aristocratic character of the GOP in such a convincing way that a sizable portion of the white working class, regardless of whatever cultural distaste they may share toward liberals, will find it impossible to vote for Romney and down-ballot Republicans.

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