The Republican Party is Not in Decline



As is normally true after an election, the winning party assumes it is now able to tell the losing party what it should do next. This year is no exception.

The constant criticism of the Republican party from the left seems to focus on one major point – the Republican Party is too extreme. One writer goes so far as to say the GOP is “so far to the right that moderates become an endangered species”.

According to these critics, the Republican Party is so “out-of-touch” with Americans that it needs to drastically reverse its policy positions. Some, including Harry Reid, argue the solution is ditching “Tea Party extremism”. As one CNN contributor argues,

“If the GOP insists on claiming any one of their candidates would be a better president than Obama — when most everyone can plainly see some of these folks are crazy — then how can any rational independent voter continue to take the party seriously?”

Others seem to think the Republican Party’s “problem” lies with a media outlet that slants to the right. As one writer rants,

“The Republican Party [is] serving as unwitting puppets of the self-serving right-wing controversy machine. Fox News and the talk radio shock jocks across the country win whether or not conservatives are in power; these purveyors of political entertainment thrive under a Democratic president, perhaps even more so than under their preferred candidates.”

Before jumping on the bandwagon and assuming Republicans need to completely change their political convictions, shouldn’t we establish that a problem exists? By many empirical measures, the Republican party is actually doing quite well.

In fact, Sean Trende, Senior Elections Analyst for RealClearPolitics, reveals a number of graphs that show a strong party. Today, the Republicans hold a higher percentage of representative seats, governorships, and state legislatures than any year since the 70s! Even the percentage of Senate seats is not alarmingly low.

President Obama’s margin of victory was considerably smaller than in 2008. This hardly supports a conclusion that the Republican party is becoming “irrelevant”.

John Sides dismantles the unjustified Democratic euphoria by pointing out the drama that characterizes post-election commentaries. He writes,

“After the 2004 election, commentator Michael Lind wrote:

‘2004 was a realigning election like 1896…The Democratic Party is not a national party any more.’

After the 2008 election, Lind changed his tune:

‘The election of Barack Obama to the presidency may signal more than the end of an era of Republican presidential dominance and conservative ideology. It may mark the beginning of a Fourth Republic of the United States.'”

These quotes just go to show how quickly and easily journalists over-analyze the results, ignoring the contradictory empirical evidence.

The Republican Party should take the “ditch Fox News” advice seriously only if the Democrats voluntarily forsake CBS, ABC, and NBC, which by research and academic study are more partisan than Fox.

The critics alleging extremist views would obviously love the Republican party to change its positions and come to their side. Rather than assume this somehow indicates a historical trend, we should see this for what it is – political manipulation.

5 responses to “The Republican Party is Not in Decline

  1. Pingback: To Save Itself, the Republican Party Needs a Deal With Obama – « Ye Olde Soapbox·

  2. Apparently post-election rhetoric can be as alarmist as pre-election commentary. However, I do think, post-election is a good time for some evaluative thinking. For the sake of overcoming the current deadlock, I’m hoping both parties can find a way to become more centrist. This may mean fixing how each party chooses their candidate. It may mean finding a way for the primary system to express a wider spectrum of views within one’s own party. I hope both parties consider that, just perhaps, enough Americans are sick of alarmist rhetoric and its concurrent deadlock and long for civil debate and constructive, nation first rather then party first, action.

    • Apparently it can be – I was amazed to read some of these statements by journalists.

      I think you make good points though – and I think the fiscal cliff, though scary, is doing just that: forcing both parties to compromise and pursue moderate approaches. That’s one of the benefits of divided government.

  3. While I do agree that the Republican party is not in any danger of dying out, I do think it would be in their best interest to bring some fresh delivery style to their message. They have entire groups of people they haven’t even began to tap into, simply by their rhetoric not acknowledging them. I’d like to see the party actually utilize social media to it’s fullest potential and start becoming more inclusive in talk. My Public Affairs Reporting class this semester, which focused solely on this election cycle, read some great stuff this semester. You should check out a book called Media Politics by Shanto Iyengar and Audacity to Win by Plouffe.

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