The Blue Wall exists for a reason: The GOP built it

We are revving up for another election, and journalists with a vested interest in a close race are arguing that the Democrats are at a disadvantage. To make their case, they note that history says it’s uncommon for a party to retain the White House for three consecutive terms, as voters appear to favor a pendulum swing in the White House. As Jon Green already explained, this argument is tenuous at best, relying on an arbitrary date range and a tiny sample size. Going beyond that, however, it ignores the fact that the GOP has plenty of disadvantages of its own headed into 2016.

The main problem for the GOP is that the electoral map favors the Democrats. In order to become President, a candidate needs 270 electoral votes. States that have voted for the Democratic candidate in every election since 1992 account for 242 electoral votes by themselves. So Democrats need only hold those states and add Florida, or Ohio and Virginia, or Ohio and two smaller swing states (Iowa, New Mexico, Nevada and New Hampshire are all likely candidates), and the White House is theirs. Even if the Republican candidate wins Ohio and Florida, the Democrats can still win with several remaining combinations of smaller states.

This doesn’t guarantee a Democratic win, but it does mean that the Democrats have a lot more paths to victory than the Republicans. Democrats don’t have any must-win swing states; Republicans cannot win the White House without Florida, and even then they would need a few other battle ground states.

Electoral College 2012, via Wikimedia Commons

Electoral College 2012, via Wikimedia Commons

Of course, this all presupposes that the 242 electoral votes constitute an impenetrable “Blue Wall” of states that Democrats are sure to win. As Nate Silver has pointed out, this is itself a shaky assumption. It wouldn’t take a very large swing in the national popular vote in order to swing a host of traditionally Democratic states — Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota, to say nothing of Virginia, Ohio and Florida — into the Republican column. As Silver concludes, the Electoral College does benefit the Democrats, but only slightly. In the event the popular vote was split 50-50 in 2012, President Obama would only have won 285 electoral votes. A win, but a much closer win than the “Blue Wall” hypothesis would predict.

So if all the “Blue Wall” hypothesis is really saying is that Democrats have won the popular vote in all but one election since 1992, and that fact is reflected in state-by-state voting patterns, the better question is not which states the GOP can or can’t win, but rather why Democrats have such a consistent advantage in the national popular vote.

The answer to that question is pretty clear: The GOP doesn’t share America’s values, and has no intention of doing so any time soon. This national phenomenon may be borne out in state-level election returns, but it remains a fundamentally national problem for the GOP.

60 percent supermajority of Americans support gay marriage, yet Ben Carson said that prison rape proves homosexuality is a choice. Ted Cruz worried that the “gay jihad” would lead to pastors being locked up and said that it is the greatest threat to religious freedom in US history. Mike Huckabee said it would lead to the “criminalization of Christianity.” These comments are not just far right; they are insane. And that opinion is shared between the left and the median American voter. This being the case, the persistent need for Republican candidates to push their base’s hate buttons will hurt the ability of any eventual nominee to go on to win the Presidency. If a nominee manages to emerge without having to sully himself with such insanity, he (and, despite Carly Fiornia’s best efforts, it will be a he) will be obstructed by the PR problems generated by the other Republican candidates.

Nearly 70 percent of Americans want Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. So, as Mitt Romney learned the hard way in 2012, the GOP’s desire to make life so uncomfortable for illegal immigrants that they leave on their own (lovingly described as “self deportation”) doesn’t square with the electorate at large. Outright nativism doesn’t just hurt Republicans in “Blue Wall” states with lots of latino voters like California; it hurts them nationally. This is reflected on the margins in emerging blue states like New Mexico and Colorado because those states are closer to begin with, but it says more about the national electorate than it does about any one state.

And let’s not forget GOP-led efforts in states across the country to keep students, seniors and African-Americans from voting altogether. They’re in every state and, like it or not, they vote in Presidential elections.

It should come as no surprise that the GOP has alienated much of the country. After all, we’re talking about a party in which less than half of likely primary voters believe that the Jade Helm 15 training exercises are not a conspiracy by the American military to take over land it already owns. In order to win the Presidency, a Republican candidate has to win those voters in the primary, and then they have to keep those voters energized enough to turn out in the general election. It’s practically impossible to both do that and come close to winning the national popular vote.

Meanwhile, the Democratic nominee will probably win after a relatively uneventful walk through the primary in which s/he can bank much of their money and pivot to a general election message earlier on. While Ted Cruz rouses suspicions about martial law, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are talking about immigration reform and overturning Citizens United. Furthermore, as Clinton’s nascent campaign has shown, the median American voter in 2016 is to the left of where she stood in 2008 on a host of social and economic issues. The Democrats have plenty of room to navigate.

The laws of politics are true until they aren’t. Eventually, the Blue Wall will crumble and the Republicans will win back the White House. However, there’s good reason to believe that 2016 will not be the year that happens. It would be a mistake to say that current demographic trends give the Democrats a lock on the White House, but it would also be a mistake to deny that Republicans have a lot of hurdles to jump over if they intend to win the Presidency — hurdles that they themselves put in place.


Max Mills is a 26 year old Texan with a degree in Computer Science. Although he writes about a variety of things, his main focuses are education and political accountability. You can follow him on Twitter at @MaxFMills

Share This Post

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    A different kind of democracy? It certainly is. That’s one of the reasons why the United States is a republic and not a democracy.

  • gary47290

    National Popular Vote is dangerous to the Republic and stupid politically. We elect the President of the United States, not President of 310 million Americans. POTUS should be elected by the states, not directly. This is not undemocratic, it’s a different kind of democracy. On a purely practical level, the electoral college ensures that a presidential election is settled definitively. A national popular vote in a close election would require a national recount, a nightmare. In 2000, the election was settled in all stated but Florida on election night. Just imagine what would have happened with your idea. We saw what recount after recount did in Minnesota: Al Franken didn’t win until weeks after the start of the new congress.

    It’s time to pull the plug on NPV and drive a stake through it’s heart.

  • gary47290

    The biggest gerrymander is the calendar. A super-majority of state legislative seats and governors are elected in off years (2014, 2010, 2006, etc.). This leads to GOP control of state government in swing states, and further gerrymanders for US Congress. If Democrats can figure out how to get young people and people of color to the polls in these elections, then the GOP is toast.

  • nichole.davi

    %^%^%check this out –> Just Click Here to SEe <—

  • phein39

    What the Blue Wall says is what all of us know from experience:
    .
    Americans despise Republicans.

    Without gerrymandering and vote suppression, the GOP would not exist as a national party. You will never hear a Republican openly espouse Republican policies: ending Social Security as we know it, ending Medicare as we know it, ending taxes on the wealth of the wealthy, etc. But they will all vote for it. Every last one of them.

  • timncguy

    Moll18’s comment was voted “up” by no one. My original comment was liked by 2 others. So, I have persuaded at least 2. I believe most regular commenters here fully understand the use of “Democrat” as a pejorative by right-wingers. Correcting its misuse on comment boards is standard procedure. The fact that you didn’t “get it” without further explanation doesn’t really matter to me.

  • willardcottrell

    A waste of electrons on both are parts.

    Have something to say – – Then say it. Don’t waste time by making folks read between your lines of poetic eloquence. Moll18’s comment was understood and other comments addressed their concerns. To point out the minutia of the English language is wonderful.

    Given your original post, how many letter writers have you persuaded to your comment. Probably none. Put comment 1 and 2 together may result in a better understanding and appreciation of said comment and make more writers understand and perhaps make themselves more clear..

  • timncguy

    Democrat, when used as an adjective instead of as a noun is a slur perpetuated by Republicans to show a lack of respect.

    And, as to your comment here, physician, heal thyself.

  • willardcottrell

    Yes it was. When democrats ie the DNC, DCCC and the rest of the beltway alphabet soup begin to speak proudly of our past agenda and its many successes then we’ll win. Unfortunately, I believe they don’t want to listen to the truth.

  • willardcottrell

    waste of electrons with your comment = if you can’t contribute a better response please don’t add to the climate change equation

  • Max Mills

    Great comment

  • mf_roe

    Would you review your first two statements and explain just what the heck your trying to say? First you call Obama a repug in dem drag, got no problem with that, that’s my read on him as well. But since Clinton has worked with Obama throughout his administration and Obama has supported Clinton all along how can you call Clinton a liberal? They are both DINOs. Both talk about helping one group and turn around and serving another.

  • guest4455

    The GOP are doomed on numerous fronts. They are facing a demographic death spiral and the overwhelming majority of non-white voters are rejecting the GOP because of their intolerant views. When it comes to the popular vote, the American people have rejected the GOP in the last 5 out of 6 presidential elections. The dems have a huge electoral college lead going into 2016. So either you look at the popular vote or the electoral college, The GOP are doomed either way,

  • TheLe99

    As a die hard liberal, it is my belief that Obama is a republican in democrat clothes. While Clinton is a politician like any other, at least you know exactly what you’re getting – a die hard liberal who probably won’t break promises. I think Jeb Bush “the moderate” has the best chance of taking the white house away from dems, but he doesn’t stand a chance in the primaries, where only the far right can win (and if he decides to “go right” to win the nod, then he will alienate swing voters and will lose the general election).

  • TheLe99

    It really comes down to SWING VOTERS — they are the ones that determine Presidential elections. However, this article is very true as Swing Voters, in general, don’t particularly like nominees that veer heavily to the right or left (which is what all of the republican nominees will do to secure the nomination).

  • toto

    Presidential elections don’t have to continue to be dominated by and determined by a handful of swing states besieged with attention, while most of the country is politically irrelevant.

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country.

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of pre-determined outcomes. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80%+ of the states that have just been ‘spectators’ and ignored after the conventions.

    The bill would take effect when enacted by states with a majority of Electoral College votes—that is, enough to elect a President (270 of 538). The candidate receiving the most popular votes from all 50 states (and DC) would get all the 270+ electoral votes of the enacting states, and win.

    The bill has passed 33 state legislative chambers in 22 rural, small, medium, large, red, blue, and purple states with 250 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 11 jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

    NationalPopularVote

  • KristineRWeber

    ♛★☆ I AM MAKING 99USD PER [email protected]//

    ➨➨➨https://AllGoodSimplexleep.com/tap/tab….

  • East Van

    2016 is not a midterm and a historic candidate will likely be running. I don’t think democratic turnout will be even a slight problem.

  • AnitaMann

    You left an important factor out of this equation. Yes the GOP is out of step with America as a whole. But many Americans don’t vote. The ones that do, vote R in numbers large enough to keep the party viable, and even continue to sweep midterm elections… when the young, the single, the agnostic, the sentient, the non-bitter ol white suburban people all stay home.

  • Andy Taylor

    ▲✺♪✈ Just i got a Draft 13000 usd …. Start work offered by Google!!Yes,this is definitely the most financially rewarding Job I’ve had . Last Monday I bought a great Lotus Elan after I been earning $9534 this-last/5 weeks and-a little over, $10k last month . . I started this four months/ago and immediately started to bring home minimum $97 per/hr … I worked here ->

    You can Make It Easily…..

    Just see here….check it,.,.,,.

    ➧➧ http://www.Yourdreamcomestrue.C0m…….
    ★☆♛★☆♛★☆♛★☆♛★☆★☆♛★☆

  • timncguy

    um, that would be “Democratic” tax increases.

  • moll18

    Zionist ideology like conservative ideology is about racism. Most people think it is about conserving money, fiscal responsibility, protection, people, the American Dream, etc., but it is not. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ll take democrat tax increases over GOP hate, sequestration, irresponsibility or a dictated way of life any day. At least with dems, I know my life will be better even if I am paying for it and I will have freedom and liberty instead of big government lip service & a one-time, short-term feel good tax cut with years long misery after that.

  • As I pointed out in another post, the GOP problem is they have their 25% base — which all their candidates need to win both the primaries and the general election — and everybody else.

    By itself, that small far, far right minority base isn’t enough to win elections. However, they demand absolute adherence to far right orthodoxies: “The Iraq war couldn’t have been a mistake and it is unpatriotic to suggest otherwise.” “If you don’t hate gay people, you’re not really a Christian.” “Poor people are all leeches.” “Obamacare never helped anybody.” “Deport all the brown people.” “Jail all the blacks.” And so on.

    Deviate at all from those core beliefs and there’s a huge risk of being challenged from the further, crazier right-wing. However, in order to win, at least some of the not-crazy conservatives and moderates need to be won over — and that requires some acknowledgment of reality. Reality which is at odds with Fux News far-right orthodoxy. The reality that roughly 75% of the country lives in.

    So yeah, the Dems do have a policy advantage — many of their proposals don’t immediately alienate 75% of the voters, just the 25% hard-line GOPer contingent which would never vote for them anyway. The GOPers aren’t helped by their quadrennial clown-car exercises, and Romney was damaged by the sheer amount of tap-dancing and pandering he had no choice but to do. (Personally I think he would’ve been a bad president, but nowhere near as bad as Dubya/Cheney.)

    But the Dems are handicapped by their own insistence on ‘Third Way’ policies, job-exporting free trade (sic) agreements, feckless bipartisanship gestures, and pro-corporate positions which are at odds with the populism and progressive measures which excite their base.

  • mf_roe

    Hell Fire and Brimstone on the right and broken promises and sellouts on the left. American Elections are decided on a lesser evil basis by the people willing to change management when the Shit really starts to Stink. I’ll be glad to be rid of Obama because he is a bigger corporate tool than W ever was. But his misdeeds have had far less Direct Pain than the Repugs inflicted in their last at bat.

    I think the dems have the edge in 2016 and regret that they will waste another chance to actually improve our country when they foolishly put Clinton in power again. Sanders or Warren or even Webb would mark a real realignment of the fortunes of average Americans. But that’s just a fever dream.

    America is like a Kit Kat Bar left or right its the same cheap junk.

© 2017 AMERICAblog Media, LLC. All rights reserved. · Entries RSS
CLOSE
CLOSE