In 2016, seventy thousand people put Donald Trump across the finish line. He lost the popular vote, but Donald Trump rode into the White House with the votes of seventy thousand men and women who voted for him in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. He’s got a problem. What worked for him then is no longer working.
Sure, President Trump has overwhelming and amazing loyalty from Republicans, but Republican votes alone cannot get a man into the White House. The President requires a host of unaffiliated and independent voters. Those voters are walking away.
Look at the aforementioned states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Those three states that put the President in the White House have seen a blue wave sweep across their Governor’s Mansions and other races. Republicans in the House of Representatives from those states have been hurt.
Look at Mark Sanford’s district in South Carolina. It has been one of the most reliably Republican districts in the country and the Democrat just won with a free trade message against the Trump supporter who beat Sanford in the primary.
Look at Georgia where Brian Kemp’s margin of victory continues to erode because he made big gains in rural areas, but those were offset by a wholesale rejection of the GOP in suburbia. Kemp lost about 2% of the suburban Atlanta vote because he tied himself so closely to Trump. Those same voters tossed out Karen Handel from a reliably Republican district and also threw a number of Republicans out of the state legislature.
Then there is Texas. Like Georgia, Texas is not suddenly becoming blue. While there are demographic and partisan trends that have been slowly pushing both states in that direction, they did not see a massive flip from 2016 due to those changes. The only thing that changed was the top of the ticket for the GOP. Texas voters and Georgia voters who have been reliable votes for Republicans are rejecting the Trump backed GOP.
And that’s the thing to pay attention to. These voters are not suddenly socialists. They are not suddenly in favor of universal socialist healthcare. They are not suddenly against tax cuts. They are not suddenly against free markets. If anything, they are rejecting the GOP because the GOP broke its promises on healthcare, failed to curtail Obama era government spending, and rejected free markets for tariffs.
The “But Gorsuch!” wing of the Republican Party may be standing by Trump, but the Republican wing of independent voters have rejected him and are signaling their total rejection of him by voting against those Republicans who got too close to him.
That is going to be a problem not just for the President in 2020, but also for other Republicans. Brian Kemp would not have had such huge gains in South Georgia without embracing Trump. But he not only lost suburban Atlanta because of it, he saw allies of his become collateral damage.
In Texas, Republicans took a beating not because they are Republican, but because they are in the Party of Trump. Right now that means Republicans are in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. Tie yourself to Trump and see suburban voters reject you. Reject Trump and see Trump voters reject it.
The GOP is dying in a political murder suicide and with the leader of their party unwilling to change or acknowledge the problem, they will only be saved by the Democrats overplaying their hand in 2020.