Welcome to the Seasaw Nation
Republicans may find that their midterm election victory is only temporary. In two years it will be the Democrats’ time to come roaring back to victory in 2016 with the presidential contest. National elections may be in a pattern that could last the rest of the decade: Republicans win the midterms and the Democrats win the presidency.
This analysis comes from Mark Sappenfield in an article from the Nov. 9 Christian Science Monitor article titled, “Why the Republican Midterm Election Might be Less Impressive Than It Seems.”
According to Sappenfield, Obama won the election for presidency in 2008, followed by the Republicans winning control of the House in 2010. President Obama won reelection in 2012, despite being seen as vulnerable and in spite of the millions of dollars spent by Republicans to beat him. The recent election continues the cycle with the Republicans taking control of the Senate as well as continuing to control the House. The pattern is a seesaw and here’s why.
Voters are increasingly becoming more independent, favoring neither party as time passes. Meanwhile the government has become “hyper-partisan.” The reason for this is due to demographics. The Democratic base, being made up of the young and minorities, tends to be more personality centered rather than issues centered. Therefore they don’t get as excited about midterm elections and don’t show up at the polls as much as the Republicans do.
Republicans, being fewer in number but mainly blue collar, white and older, tend to turn out for midterms more consistently and win the midterms. Obama’s victory in the 2012 election with only 39 percent of the white vote shows this, when his demographic of voters turned out again.
This current Republican demographic, The Silent Generation, tends to be more conservative than its now disappearing predecessor, The Greatest Generation—those who endured the Great Depression and World War II. Further, according to Sappenfield’s article, the divisions between liberals who vote Democratic, and conservatives who vote Republican is more clearly delineated now than in the past when there was more crossover voting.
So rather than Republicans bringing about major change in this midterm election, they merely cemented the already-existing patterns. In other words, frustrating gridlock will likely continue for the rest of the decade, according to Sappenfield.
As the more conservative Silent Generation dies off, they will be replaced by Baby Boomers, who tend to swing right or left but mainly left. The decreasing numbers of Republicans and the increasing power of Latinos will mean fewer chances for Republicans to gain control of the government, unless they change their approach.
If Republicans start to compromise with President Obama, more laws may get passed, but it won’t cause their base to be excited about turning out to vote. Taking hard stands is what brings out the party faithful.
Further, as time passes, the Republican midterm advantage may end, as more of the Silents die off. Clearly, Republicans will have to open their doors to minorities, or they will be in big trouble.
When I was a teen and broke my nose in P.E., the nose doctor I was taken to see gave me a lesson in physics: “When an immovable object meets an irresistible force, something has got to give.” Republicans need to heed the message the nose doctor gave me, or they will cease to be a major party in the future, and that will be a sad course of events.
Richard Elfers is a columnist with the Courier Herald in Enumclaw, Bonney Lake and Sumner. He is an adjunct professor at Greenriver Community College, teaching high school completion civics and government, Culminating Project and continuing education classes on history and current events. He is a former Enumclaw city councilman.