Meanwhile Far-Right and Centrist Republicans Each Talk of Starting a New Party
Since the election, and especially post-Jan. 6 riot, Republican voters have been fleeing the party like rats from a sinking ship — or at least one that has lost control of its rudder while navigating through dire straights.
According to an analysis of public voting records:
- Nearly 140,000 voters left the Republican Party in 25 states in January
- The largest losses are in battleground states like Pennsylvania and Arizona (both of which President Biden won by a small margin.)
- In California, more than 33,000 voters disowned the GOP.
- In Pennsylvania, 12,000 voters left the party.
- In Arizona, more than 10,000 Republicans jumped ship.
- In North Carolina, GOP voter rolls have fallen by 8,000.
- In Utah, 7,600 Republicans have left the party since January 6.
- In Colorado, more than 4,500 Republicans fled the party between January 6 and the end of the month.
- And in Maryland, 2,300 left the GOP the week after the January 6 riot.
It’s important to point out that not every state requires voters to register under a political party. And not all states release their numbers. So this is not a scientific study. However, this exodus isn’t typical.
Here’s what Michael P. McDonald, a professor of political science at the University of Florida, told the New York Times:
“Since this is such a highly unusual activity, it probably is indicative of a larger undercurrent that’s happening, where there are other people who are likewise thinking that they no longer feel like they’re part of the Republican Party, but they just haven’t contacted election officials to tell them that they might change their party registration. So this is probably a tip of an iceberg.”
And the Republican party seems to be heading right at it.
There has indeed been a sea change in American political demographics. For example, although the number of college-educated Americans is steadily increasing, Republicans have been experiencing a substantial drop in the number of college-educated voters in recent years. And today women account for six out of ten Democratic voters.
According to Thad Kousser, a UCSD Political Science Professor, this isn’t a sudden reversal of fortunes for the GOP.
“I think this isn’t just a temporary blip. This is an acceleration of the long-term declining fortunes of the Republican Party in California broadly and in San Diego in particular. This was a city that not that long ago, just over a decade ago, had a long string of Republican mayors, very competitive City Council, and a County Board of Supervisors that was all Republican. Not only have you seen voters leaving the Republican Party, but some prominent San Diego Republicans have left the Party.”
What do the mass exodus and recent events portend for the Republican party’s future? As of this moment, it looks like there might be three possible scenarios:
- Either nothing changes and the GOP’s ship breaks into two and sinks.
- Or Trump starts his own far-right political party — and both it and the GOP sink.
- Or centrist, anti-Tump Republicans leave the sinking ship and start a new party — which will take some time to build up steam.
It’s important to point out before we move on that there are actually two reasons voters are deserting the Republican party:
- Some have had enough of Trump and feel the party is headed over a waterfall.
- Some are Trump faithfuls who feel the GOP has betrayed them by impeaching trump and letting Democrats pirate their election.
Trump may not have to start his own party. He already owns one.
However, the reality of the situation (given Trump and his supporters incited one of the most horrific events in the country’s history) is that a Trump party would probably not be successful and, in fact, would result in more conservative chaos.
If you can’t join ’em, beat ‘em…
Recently, Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations announced his exit from the Republican Party. In doing so, he invoked a quote spoken by former President Ronald Regan when he left the Democratic party for the Republican party in 1962: “I didn’t leave the party; the party left me.”
Interestingly, Trump might not have to start his own political party. Many centrist GOP leaders feel, the same as Haass, that the GOP party is just too much of a shipwreck to mount a rescue and that perhaps it’s time to build a new centrist party based on core conservative values. A fresh start so to speak.
After all, the anti-Trump branch of the GOP seems to be in the minority. Less than 5 percent of House Republicans voted to impeach Trump last month. It was the most bipartisan impeachment vote in history. Given this, what choice do centrists have? They cannot make 95 percent of the party walk the plank.
This idea of a Republican mutiny isn’t idle gossip. Reuters reported Wednesday on a Zoom conference between more than 120 former elected officials and members of former Republican administrations, including Trump’s, at which the idea of starting a centrist party was floated. There was even talk of recruiting centrist Democrats into the party.
Names reportedly under consideration for a new party include The Integrity Party (which is pompous) and the Center Right Party (which would probably turn off any Democrats they hope to recruit). Alternatively, another option discussed was to not start a new party at all but rather to form a center-right Republican caucus within the GOP.
‘Principled conservatism’ would be the foundation of the party’s platform. (This, of course, implies that the Trump faction is not principled.)
So could a Trump-powered or right-centrist party float on its own? It’s been a long time since a third party had any level of clout in American, so it’s certainly not going to be an easy launch. No matter what Republicans decide to do, one thing is obvious. The party is going to need to be replanked and refastened from stem to stern.
One more quick metaphor before I go. Imagine conjoined twins that despise each other. They both want to go their own way, but they share one heart. If you split them apart one dies and the other is scarred for life. And if you don’t split them up, they both live their lives in sin and misery until they learn to work together — which, in Republicans’ case could be a very long time.