In their 2012 book, It’s Even Worse Than it Looks, the political scientists Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein wrote, “ The Republican Party has become an insurgent outlier.” But in a Bloomberg interview earlier this week with Francis Wilkinson, Ornstein recounts a conversation he had with former Republican Representative Vin Weber, a conservative of impressive wisdom.
When Ornstein referred to the GOP as an insurgent outlier party, Weber pushed back, telling him, “We have the House and Senate, more governorships and state legislatures than in our lifetimes, huge gains in 2010 and 2014, all but the presidency. How is that an insurgent outlier party?”
Mr. Weber is quite right. Republicans control the Senate (54-44) and the House of Representatives (247-188). There are currently 31 Republican governors compared with 18 for Democrats. Republicans control 68 of 98 partisan state legislative chambers and the most state legislative seats since the 1920s. Nearly half of Americans now live in states under total Republican control.
One can argue that today, the Republican Party is the governing party in America – and that has occurred on Barack Obama’s watch and largely because of his failed presidency.
Consider: When Mr. Obama took office, Democrats held a filibuster-proof 60 seats, the largest margin for either party since 1978. In the House, Democrats held 257 seats to the GOP’s 178. Twenty-nine of out of the nation’s 50 governorships were in Democratic hands. During the Obama presidency, then, Democrats have lost 11 governorships, 13 U.S. Senate seats, 69 House seats, 913 state legislative seats and 30 state legislative chambers.
The Obama presidency has been good for Barack Obama, but it’s been a disaster for his party.
This is not to say the Republican Party doesn’t face problems. It does; especially on the presidential level, where demographics and the Electoral College map pose significant challenges to any Republican nominee. In addition, others and I are quite concerned about the direction the party has been heading in over the last few months in particular.
Still, the effort to portray the Republican Party as an “insurgent outlier” on the edge of extinction, thoroughly radicalized, alienating and unappealing, is simplistic and silly, the product of the somewhat fevered mind of liberals who have lost the capacity to make sober and fair-minded judgments.