March 9, 2012 Are the Republicans the majority party?
Going back to my last post, I would say yes. Even though they haven’t won most Presidential elections in the past two decades, they have won most everything else. In particular, Republicans have held the U.S. House for all but four years (2006-10) since 1994, and the Senate for all but six. Since 1994, Republicans have had the majority of governorships for all but three years (2007-10). In sum, for offices less well-known than the presidency (where party ties matter more) Republicans win more often than not.
Furthermore, the Republicans have been able to win presidential elections against the business cycle. In 2000, people were better off than ever, but the Republicans (sort of) unseated the Democrats. In 2004, the country was worse off economically than in 2000, yet Bush was reelected. It took a global financial crisis to unseat them- and even then McCain got 46 percent of the vote and most of the South and West.
If a Democratic candidate had presided over such an economic calamity, would he have done as well as McCain? I doubt it. I suspect that the Republican label is worth some undefined number of votes, such that a Democrat in identical circumstances (i.e. a candidate following a Gore Administration that ended as calamitously as the Bush Administration did) would get less than 46%. How much less? I’m not sure.
None of which means that Romney will beat Obama. But he will do better than in the imaginary alternative universe where President Obama wears the Republican jersey.