November 9, 2012 The Republicans are just fine
There’s been a lot of media blather recently about how this election is the end of the Republican Party’s majority status.
But the fact of the matter is that the Republicans are still the majority party at most levels of government. They are the majority in the House, the majority in governorships, and almost won the Presidency.
Over the long run, the Republicans have held the House in all but three elections (1992, 2006, 2008) over the last twenty years.
At the presidential level we are pretty much a 50-50 country. Three of the past four elections (all but 2008, which was pretty exceptional due to the financial crisis) have been decided by roughly a 51-49 margin (2004 , 2012) or less (2000). In two of these elections, the Republicans outperformed the business cycle: that is, in 2000 voters were better off than four years before, which should have benefitted the Democrats- yet the Republican nominee (sort of) won. In 2004, the economy was worse than in 2000, yet the Republican President was reelected.
This year, the business cycle predicted a close election: Obama’s approval rating was roughly 50 percent, and the unemployment rate is about what it was four years ago. If Romney had run a better campaign he would have won- but there’s no way it could have been anything but a close election (barring a truly devastating error by either Obama or Romney).
So what does this forebode for 2016? At worst, another 50-50 election. And if the economy gets worse between 2012 and 2016, the Republicans may get the kind of economic bounce that the Dems got in 2008.
Below the Presidential level, the Republicans are even stronger. The nonpresidential party usually gains in midterm elections, so the Republicans should make House and Senate gains in 2014.
In sum, this election was not the kind of disaster that is likely to inspire widespread rethinking.