Most obscenely rich families begin with a sponge, and end with a spigot Donald E Westlake
It was January of 2009. Barack Obama had just been elected the first African American President in the nation’s history. In the immediate aftermath of the election, the GOP was in a panic. And in that panic they came up two of the most consequential decisions in the last political generation.
On Inauguration night, at a small private dinner in a private dining room of an Italian restaurant, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell set the GOP Senate agenda for the next four years. He swore an oath to make Obama a one term President by executing a program of nonstop obstruction to everything, weakening Obama in 2012 for being so ineffective and futile. It didn’t work.
Farther down the food chain, a tighter group of GOP operatives and strategists hit gold. They also swore a mighty oath for 2010. But it wasn’t geared towards retaking the House or Senate, new administrations normally get creamed in the first midterms. They were more insidious. They started fundraising like hell with the sole objective of flipping statehouses in 2010. And they were successful beyond their dreams, because the Democrats weren’t contesting the field of battle.
This was critical since 2010 was a census year, which meant district maps would be redrawn in 2011, both US House as well as state House seats. And in one fell swoop, not only reengineered the House to be harder than hell for the Democrats to reclaim, they also so severely gerrymandered their state maps that Democrats are almost prohibited from being able to come back to power. Traditional battleground states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida became vast wastelands for Democrats. Those operatives were the sponge.
But according to new reporting highlighted tonight by Chris Hayes on All In on MSNBC, It is Traitor Tot, and the slavish devotion of the GOP to the three-time-loser, is going to make El Pendejo Presidente the spigot that dismantles the GOP dream gerrymander machine from the inside. Here’s why.
In most states, the battle lines are pretty clearly drawn. The GOP’s strength was in the exurban and cow counties of rural voters. The Democratic strength of the Democrats was in the major urban areas, and those just seemed to keep growing, Considering the shallow population rate of the cow counties, you would think it would be advantage Democrats.
But the GOP had a secret weapon. The suburbs. They were the people who had made enough to get out of the urban chaos, and they were desperate to hold on to, and expand what they had. They were mostly conservative, and tended to vote GOP. In fact, they even came up with a nickname for them, Country Club Republicans.
And they were the GOP’s gerrymandering secret sauce. By manipulating the borders, they could cut into Democratic urban stronghold districts just enough to turn them into GOP districts, and stretch the other border to replenish from the cow counties. This allowed the GOP to flip enough districts to guarantee a House majority from that state.
And The Cheeto Prophet is pissing it away. As I have reported in multiple columns wrapped around election days, and as others have reported as well, starting in the 2018 elections, Trump revulsion had moderate GOP voters, especially white women voters either staying home, or crossing over to vote for Democrats instead of MAGAt’s. And nowhere was that more apparent than in 2020, when GOP suburban voters either voted for Biden or left the top line empty, but voted for more moderate GOP candidates down ballot, slicing the Democrats House advantage to shreds.
But here’s the McGuffin, where it gets worse for Trump, and way worse for the GOP. According to the reporting Hayes talked about tonight, the Country Club Republicans aren’t just voting with their feet against His Lowness anymore, they’re voting with their feet against the entire GOP. The report showed that these people aren’t just crossing the line to vote Democratic to protest Trump and the MAGA GOP, they’re actively changing their voter registrations to Democratic. They’ve accurately read the tea leaves that their grandfathers GOP is dead, and they’re making the switch.
If this is true, it is a neutron bomb getting ready to go off in the GOP election strategy. When JFK ran for President in 1960 his father famously told him, don’t buy one more vote than you have to. I’m not paying for a goddamned landslide. The same principle holds true for GOP gerrymandering. The average gerrymandering ratio per district is 2-2.5% above the margin of error. Like a corporate raider, trim your costs to maximize your profits.
If this is true, it could literally change the electoral landscape, both statewide as well as nationally for the next seven years. The GOP legislators gerrymandered their maps based on these suburban GOP voters being a stable, predictable voting bloc. If enough of them have changed over, the gerry rigged safety net is gone, and as we saw in 2018, that bodes ill for the GOP. Now add it to the statewide results, if these voters have switched parties.
Oddly enough, this presents a kind of a dilemma for the Democrats. These are the new immigrants to the big tent. And they’re going to be bringing a different set of values and priorities than the Democrats are used to having to consider. Fortunately, as the Democratic party has gotten younger and more progressive, they should be able to find programs and values to make them feel right at home.
Here’s the canary in the coalmine. Watch 538.com and The Cook Report. Normally then tend to show about 45-70 swing districts for a House election cycle. If that jumps up to 80-90 seats, you know the GOP migration is a real factor. Don’t touch that dial.