Poised for 2012?
The 2010 election galvanized the GOP. The party won seven new places in the Senate, as many new governorships, and took the seats of 720 Democrats in state legislatures, giving it complete control in twenty-nine states. But the most palpable shift was in the House of Representatives, where sixty-three districts changed hands. It was the largest switch since 1932, when 101 Republicans lost their seats. John Boehner and his colleagues believe they have a national mandate. To them, the country is disenchanted with Barack Obama and the party he represents; the forces that brought the 2010 sweep are poised for 2012. Could they be correct?
The 2012 electorate will differ from 2010’s in a crucial respect: it will contain nearly 50 million additional voters. Some will be new, but most of them will be people who supported Obama in 2008. Compared with the 2010 House electorate, they will be younger, more ethnically diverse, with fewer identifying themselves as conservatives, and a higher proportion will be women. Most of them would not have voted for the Republicans who now make up John Boehner’s House.
I find it puzzling that Boehner, Paul Ryan, and most of their colleagues in both chambers believe that their platform has a national majority behind it. The fact is that current House Republicans received 30,799,391 votes, compared with Obama’s 69,498,215 total. Even so, they feel that most Americans are deeply disturbed about deficits and the debt, as well as the fact and fear of unemployment. Regarding the latter, they reiterate that they are the party that can and will create jobs. Indeed, that is their claimed justification for many of the policies they favor, from resuming oil drilling to giving favored treatment for overseas earnings.