The limits of Trumpism

If we are really looking at a realignment of the Republican Party, presumably we should see big changes at the state and local level, not just with the white ethnocentric populism of Trump.  So, are we?  Seth Masket took a pretty thorough look for 538 and concludes, no:

…we can examine Republican nomination contests occurring at the state level across the country right now. After all, if the GOP really is experiencing a hostile takeover, we should be observing this beyond just the presidential level. Party changes tend to occur from the ground up, rather than the top down.

To narrow down the study a bit, let’s first look at open-seat Senate and gubernatorial primaries in competitive states where there’s substantial competition for the Republican nomination. I wanted to see what sorts of Republicans are running and which candidates seem to be leading the contests.

What I found was a substantial number of experienced, mainstream Republicans leading in their races for major office, which does not suggest a party that is cracking up.

[plenty of specific races examined]

A Trump nomination could well be costly for the party. If current polls are any indication, they could lose the presidency by a substantial margin, dragging down quite a few members of Congress and state legislators in the process, especially if Trump’s presence on the ballot drives up Democratic turnout. But the party should be able to recover from that. The presidency is obviously important to a party, but it is not all that a party is.

Of course, Trump may just the vanguard of this new GOP.  But without more ideological change downballot, we’ll eventually meet the new Republican party, same as the old Republican party.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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