While there was a Democratic “blue wave”, it was modest, in line with usual midterm shifts, particularly when one party is in charge of all the branches of government. Trump will celebrate this as a victory, which is not without merit. Sure, the Republicans lost many races, and some significantly when compared with the 2016 presidential elections. But they still held on to most of their positions.
Trump’s biggest victory, however, was within the Republican party. When he won the nomination, many prominent conservatives and Republicans were openly Never Trumpers. When he won the presidency, most Republicans decided to accept him, hoping to mold him into a mainstream conservative. Just two years later, without Steve Bannon and other alleged spin doctors, Trump has shaped the Republican party in his image instead.
Whether the Republican establishment likes it or not – and more and more are actually perfectly happy with it – the Grand Old Party is now Trump’s Party. Their fate is intertwined with his. The old conservative Republican party is dead, for now. In the coming two years they will campaign as a radical right party, led by an omnipresent leader, who will define the Republican party for a whole generation of Americans.
The fact that the Republicans held up pretty well during the midterms even though Trump himself was not on the ballot will give them hope for the 2020 presidential elections. In that election they can rally around a clear leader and program, whose polarization mobilizes the base unlike any candidate could in the midterms. And if they have promising-looking figures on the economy, that will help, too, as it will have done this time.
Trump’s party will face a Democratic party whose diversity is both its strength and its weakness. It allows them to tap into a much broader electorate than the Republican party, but it also might prevent them from presenting a clear and coherent program. At the same time, most of the power is set to remain in the hands of the old white party elites, some of whom will also play a major role in the party primaries. [Continue reading…]