John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


What Republicans Must Do To Adapt To Political Realignment

Posted on November 11, 2019
To paraphrase Voltaire, if Donald Trump did not exist, America would have had to invent him.

The realignment happening in American politics is perhaps enhanced by, but certainly not caused by, Mr. Trump.

That political earthquake you feel under your feet is caused by the shifting tectonic plates of political geography, demography, age, and education.

Geographically speaking, it is significant that Donald Trump won more than 2,600 counties in 2016, while Hillary Clinton won only slightly more than 400. The country is one big splash of red interrupted by relatively tiny splashes of blue. The values held dear by those in rural America are distinctly and perhaps irreversibly different from the values of those who live in big metropolitan areas and most of their suburbs. Those values are what compel voters in both areas to vote the way they do.

Demographically, the voting public is becoming more multi-chromatic, especially in the cities and the suburbs. The percentage of the white vote has declined from 75 percent of the electorate in 2000 to 67 percent of the electorate in 2020. The largest minority are Hispanic voters and the fastest-growing group is Asian voters. White voters are increasing voting their fears while minority voters vote their hopes.

Generationally, about 38 percent of the voters are older than 55 years old, while about 30 percent of voters are younger than 30 years old. White voters skew much older while younger voters are much more likely to be either black, Asian, Hispanic or biracial.

While about 90 percent of the American people have a high school degree and about 60 percent have some college, only 36 percent have a bachelor’s degree and only 13 percent have an advanced degree or above. Younger voters tend to have had more college and are more likely to have received their degree.

The most significant shift in voting habits has happened mostly among white voters. More educated and richer white voters, once the heart of the Republican Party, are trending toward the Democrat Party, while blue-collar voters are moving swiftly to the Republican Party.

But Republicans can’t successfully compete at the national level if it only represents white, blue-collar workers. To succeed, it must become the working-class party of all races and creeds.

The battle in the next election will be fought on three separate battlegrounds: In the suburbs, among Generation Xers and among immigrants who agree with Republicans on values and on ideology but who dislike Trump personally.

Republicans don’t have to win the suburbs, but they can’t get wiped out in them as they did in Virginia and around Philadelphia. They especially have to cut their losses among white, married women, who turned on them in the last two off-year elections.

They have to hold their own among those Americans who share more in common with the Greatest Generation than with the woke generation. These Gen Xers have made a lot of progress in the stock market and want to raise their children with values that they were raised with.

And finally, they have to do better with minorities, and especially immigrant voters who share their traditional family values and appreciation for the hard, gritty work of growing a small business.

Many of these voters appreciate the president’s strong leadership on the economy but are turned off by his divisive rhetoric.

The president and Republicans in general have to reiterate that their vision of America has a special appreciation for those folks who play by the rules, who contribute to our economy, who work hard and who came to America not because it is a socialist paradise, but because it is the kind of country where anybody can succeed, no matter what their color or creed.

Subscribe to the Feehery Theory Newsletter, exclusively on Substack.
Learn More