The GOP Challenge: The Unspeakable “C-Word”

FILE – On a November 13, 2020 file photo, a traveler wears a face mask and gloves at Los Angeles International Airport. (AP photo / Damian Dovarganes, file)

Despite encouraging news spread across the country in the Senate and House elections, the 2020 return did not shake much of the GOP’s recent, almost perennial, referendum status as its presidential loser.

In the last eight White House races (until Bill Clinton’s first race in 1992), Republicans have won the public vote only once – with the difficult struggle re-election of George W. Bush sixteen years ago.

Amazingly, this democratic dominance followed consistent Republican triumphs for two decades: between 1968 and 1988, the GOP swept five of six races, including two different 49-state landslides (Nixon in 68 and Reagan in 84). Republicans have achieved such predictable success in presidential battles that liberal experts and fortune tellers have often spoken of the College College’s unbreakable GOP “lock”.

So how did Democrats choose this lock to change Republican presidential candidates from lords to underperformers?

The answer contains a single word that has become almost unspeakable in conservative circles – the dreaded C-word: California.

Today, political analysts take California’s liberal orientation so self-evident that they are merely shrugging over the inevitable democratic victories. California doesn’t seem more competitive to Republicans than Wyoming to Democrats: Trump won an amazing 70% in the “Cowboy State,” while he voted a truly pathetic 34% in the “Golden State”. The difference is that Wyoming (580,000 inhabitants) gives three voter votes, while California (40 million inhabitants) gives 55 – enough on its own to powerfully shape the outcome of most presidential races. If Trump had worn California even this year, he would have won re-election with a comfortable choice, 287 voter votes – even allowing Biden’s narrow victory in Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. If he had won the Golden State back in 2016 – or even tied Hillary there – he would have won the referendum as well as the Electoral College.

The most depressing factor for GOP strategists seeking to control the party’s future prospects is that they see California’s largely forgotten history as the most important element of the Republican Party’s success today. On the one hand, California candidates dominate national tickets (in the person of Earl Warren, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan), and between 1948 and 1984, they nominated eight presidential candidates or vice presidents. In addition, the Golden State provided an almost automatic advantage. .

In other words, for forty years, the election prize that became the most populous state in the Union in 1962 fell into the Republican column as easily and easily as Alabama or, well, today Wyoming. It should be recalled that California used to be as predictably Republican as it has been consistently democratic in all presidential elections since 92.

So what has changed to change the color of California reliably from red to irreplaceable blue?

Demographics obviously played a role: as census statistics show, California followed Hawaii about twenty years ago as the second state in which non-Hispanic whites formed a minority. In the 2020 election, President Trump achieved significant advantages over Spanish voters in other parts of the nation (especially Florida), but continued to perform unfortunately among Latinos in California – losing 34% of voters with a negligible 77-21% difference. . It also lost the state’s significant 76-23% Asian-American vote.

But the most important contribution to the overwhelming defeat of the California Trump-Pence ticket was among non-Hispanic whites, who continue to represent the largest ethnic segment of voters in the state (47%). There, Biden-Harris was solid with a 53-45% difference. In other words, Trump would have definitely lost the state even if non-white voters had not appeared at the polls at all.

It’s worth thinking about why Republicans lost their white vote in California when they had a significant advantage (58-41%) across the nation in this group. Golden State’s underperformance for this year’s ticket will result in a failure among independent voters (62-32%) and even independent Republicans, where Biden won 11% of their vote (compared to a paltry 2% of California Democrats). Trump won his case). Suburban voters (nearly half of the state’s electorate) opted for Biden by 60-38% – similar to the final nationwide advantage.

In other words, despite local successes winning some congressional seats in 2020 (the delegation consists of 42 Democrats and 11 Republicans), California still appears to be a one-party loyalty, with GOP candidates for transfers in any state competition.

There are no easy solutions for Republican presidential candidates in 2024 or beyond — be it Trump, Nikki Halley, Tom Cotton or Ben Sasse, or some unconfirmed conservative messiah — to overcome the Republican challenge of a Republican future. But it must be clear that GOP candidates will not build a new series of victories unless they succeed in competing more viable in the country’s largest state, which has played such a crucial role in previous Republican successes.