When talking about the rampant disorder and self induced destruction in the GOP, most pundits, especially GOP pundits have a favorite saying, The fish rots from the head down. And God knows that Traitor Tot is the world’s largest rotting fish head. The problem is that the GOP isn’t a dead carp, it’s a structure.
And structures don’t normally decide one day to just tip over and fall down from the top. Far more likely is that unnoticed and/or untreated rot in the foundation puts unstable weight on the load bearing members, and it collapses in on itself. A perfect example is watching a demolition company bring down a tall building by collapsing it in on top of itself.
Since 2010, in a brilliant GOP operation to go all in on winning statehouses and state legislatures, at which they were wildly successful, the GOP has been able to set itself us as basically a permanent minority majority by one simple but devious means. Gerrymandering. Starting in 2011, GOP states were able to gerrymander their own district seats to make it virtually impossible for them to lose for the next decade. And while they were at it anyway, they redrew the congressional district maps to give GOP incumbents an almost impossible to surmount an advantage. Wisconsin is a prefect example. In 2020, the Democrats got something like 54% of the statewide vote, and yet picked up one measly seat in the state legislature. So gerrymandering has been the literal foundation of GOP power, especially in the state and US Houses, and it has been wildly successful. And they just got to do it again in 2021. In Florida, GOP Governor Ron Pissantis personally gerrymandered enough swing districts to hand the GOP their piddly majority in the US House. Four poorly gerrymandered Democratic seats in New York sealed the deal. And in Texas, Greg Abbott used his gerrymandering almost exclusively to shore up Texas state GOP seats that were at risk due to ethnic diversification and population migration.
So the GOP should be sitting golden, right? Except they’re not. The GOP’s gerrymandering foundation is rotting, and sweet Jesus, they just had a whole year to fix the maps! But you won’t see it if you look at the US House, that’s the penthouse. To see it, you have to look at the state legislatures and state offices.
In 2022 the Democrats flipped more Governors mansions than they have in any one cycle in the last 15-20 years. In critical swing states, the Democrats mostly swept critical state positions with power over the state’s elections. But that’s nowhere the real action is.
The real action is in the state Houses and Senates, and that’s where you can see the rot. In Pennsylvania the Democrats retook the state House for the first time in a decade. In Michigan the Democrats flipped both chambers in the Michigan legislature for the first time in some 30 years. In multiple red states, the GOP held on to the chambers but had losses in numbers. And if recall MSNBC’s election guru Steve Kornacki correctly, in two GOP dominated states, the GOP actually lost their supermajorities in one chamber or the other, making it impossible to override a Democratic Governor’s veto.
People, this is flat out ridiculous. The GOP has only had a decade now to perfect their technique, and the train wreck Roberts Supreme Court is giving them an open field for abuse in ruling after ruling. And after winning in 2020, the GOP legislatures had months to get together and decide on how to divvy up the booty. And in just over a year since they unveiled their new Master Plans, they’re getting their asses kicked all over the place. How is this possible?
There are only two logical reasons I can come up with, and both of them are deadly for the GOP. The first was the GOP’s gleeful, vindictive, dunderheaded response to the SCOTUS overturning Roe v Wade. Gop dominated states went into a feeding frenzy to try to outdo each other in the most restrictive new abortion laws. And in every single GOP dominated state that had abortion rights legislation or referendums on the ballot, the GOP got slaughtered. Kansas set the table early in their primary with an astounding 59-41 drubbing to codify abortion rights in the state constitution. But the state and national GOP Just. Didn’t. Listen. They were beholden to their loony Evangelical base. So tone deaf ignorance on what the voters were saying was reason one.
Here’s reason number two. Even in states where abortion rights were not on the ballot, the GOP took losses, some of them heavy. Why? Well, Mitch McConnell bitched about it months before the general election, candidate quality. According to most reputable pollsters, independents are now the largest “party” in the country. And yet even at the state level, the GOP threw up, literally, such a pathetic slate of slobbering, incompetent candidates that GOP and independent voters either stayed home, or voted for sane Democratic candidates. I can’t see anything else that makes sense.
And here’s where the GOP’s foundational rot could become terminal. I have written previously on several occasions that one of the safest jobs in the US is a legislative incumbent. The retention rate for incumbents is something like 96.7%. Democrat Katie Porter from California is a perfect example. She flipped a solidly red seat in rock red Orange county in 2018, and just got re-elected to her third term in 2022. Once you have the district or state name recognition, the organization, and the donor database, you’re tough to beat.
And that is going to happen to at least some of those Democratic incumbents who flipped seats in 2022. And if the GOP holds current form and nominates another slate of bed wetting morons in 2024, with a presidential election, the damage is only going to get worse. And as I’ve previously written, the last two elections in the census cycle are the least reliable, due to population migration.
For 12 years now, the GOP has lived high on the hog from gerrymandering, but now it appears that they’re fucking that up too. If the Democrats learn the lesson, and go all in on winning state legislatures for the next couple of cycles, it will be the Democrats that are redrawing more state legislative maps in 2031, and that means not only more equitable state maps, giving Democrats a better chance, it strips the GOP US House of their sole advantage. An without gerrymandering, the GOP has nothing to sell.