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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Greenberg: GOP May Be Headed for a ‘Shattering’ 2016

In his Washington Post op-ed, “Why 2016 could be shattering for Republicans,” Democratic strategist Stan Greenberg predicts that “Election Day 2016 will produce a shattering crash larger than anything the pundits anticipate.” The reason, says Greenberg, is “because the revolutionary economic and social changes occurring in the United States have now pushed both the burgeoning new majority and the conservative Republicans’ counterrevolution beyond their tipping points.”
Greenberg provides a vivid picture of America’s demographic changes:

The United States is being transformed by revolutions remaking the country at an accelerating and surprising pace. Witness the revolutions in technology, the Internet, big data and energy, though just as important are the tremendous changes taking place in immigration, racial and ethnic diversity, the family, religious observance and gender roles. These are reaching their apexes in the booming metropolitan centers and among millennials.
As the revolutions interact, they are accelerating the emergence of a new America. Consider that nearly 40 percent of New York City’s residents are foreign-born, with Chinese the second-largest group behind Dominicans. The foreign-born make up nearly 40 percent of Los Angeles’s residents and 58 percent of Miami’s. A majority of U.S. households are headed by unmarried people, and, in cities, 40 percent of households include only a single person. Church attendance is in decline, and non-religious seculars now outnumber mainline Protestants. Three-quarters of working-age women are in the labor force, and two-thirds of women are the breadwinners or co-breadwinners of their households. The proportion of racial minorities is approaching 40 percent, but blowing up all projections are the 15 percent of new marriages that are interracial. People are moving from the suburbs to the cities. And in the past five years, two-thirds of millennial college graduates have settled in the 50 largest cities, transforming them.

Political attitudes dynamics are no less striking. Greenberg explains that “diversity is becoming more central to our multicultural identity” and “Shifting attitudes were underscored in this year’s Gallup Poll when 60 to 70 percent of the country said gay and lesbian relations, having a baby outside of marriage, sex between an unmarried man and woman, and divorce are all “morally acceptable.”
He cites a “a new majority coalition of racial minorities, single women, millennials and seculars” which comprised 51 percent of voters in 2012, but will account for 63 percent of voters in 2016. he adds that the Republican Party brand “has probably not been as tarnished since the Watergate era.”
Greenberg notes that the GOP downhill slide accelerated in 2004, when Bush strategist Karl Rove decided to prioritize winning evangelical voters, while writing off swing voters. As a result the Republican demographic mix has been distilled down to “mostly married voters, as well as the oldest, most rural and most religiously observant voters in the country.” Greenberg argues that the GOP’s new demographic reality “creates formidable odds against its winning an electoral college majority.”
Further, there is a “shrinking proportion of people who think of themselves as conservative, down to 37 percent from 46 percent during the November elections.”For Republicans,” adds Greenberg 2016 “will confirm that the new America is here and that the counterrevolution has lost. That is why I expect the result to be shattering for the Republican Party as we know it.”
Greenberg believes it is possible that the Republicans can learn from their 2016 defeat and re-emerge with less bashing of immigrants and more tolerance for “the sexual revolution and the new gender roles and work to help the modern working family.” They might even be more open to investing in infrastructure upgrades and education.
Such a transformation, says Greenberg, could set the stage for “a different kind of debate within the Republican Party and, perhaps, a different kind of politics in the country,” just as Dems “modernized” their policies after their 1984 defeat. And that would be a welcome change for those who want to see America moving forward again.

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