The Republican Disconnect with Voters

The widespread disgust with President Trump might be least of the Grand Old Party’s problems. Some new data indicates Republicans are simply dangerously out of touch with reality and voters.

Democrats have managed to capture 37 Republican-held state legislature seats, 20 of them in districts carried by Trump, since November 2016, Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent noted. The latest was in Kentucky where Democrat Linda Belcher won by 68% to 32% in a district Trump carried by 50 points in 2016.

Those figures suggest the disconnect; and discontent, voters have is with the Republican Party, not Trump. Trump has the advantage of being seen as outside the GOP establishment by most voters. Remember, Trump won the 2016 Republican primaries by running against the GOP establishment.

Why are Trump Voters Turning on the GOP?

Polls indicate that many of the voters in legislative districts were motivated by issues such as roads, education, and healthcare. A major factor for anti-Republican frustration is the deterioration of education and infrastructure in many parts of the country.

One reason for this is that Republicans have done a very poor job of governing. That occurred largely because the GOP’s focus for the past two or three decades has been on ideology, not policy. Legislators concentrated on lowering taxes, and cutting spending while ignoring services and infrastructure.

A major flaw in Republican budgets has been the failure to generate sufficient revenues for governments. Another has been the neglect of basic government services the middle class relies upon such as highways, mass transit, roads, public schools, and hospitals.

One Democrat won a legislative seat in Oklahoma by harping on the issue of shortened school days. Short school days are a major irritant to working-class parents who are often forced to leave kids at home alone or pay for expensive daycare as a result.

Can Republicans Govern Anymore?

Democrats; at least on the local level, have been able to campaign on competence.

Although their ability to govern is debatable, their signature effort of the last decade; Obamacare was the worst written, and the most poorly-designed piece of legislation I have ever seen. A disturbing trend here is that some Democrats seem to be winning elections on the “we’re sort of competent, but they are completely incompetent” platform.

One thing is clear, Republicans are going to have to change the way they govern; and probably embrace some tax increases and extensions of government services and spending, if they want to win elections. Trump’s popularity indicates rank and file Republicans want an expanded government that offers a higher level of service.

Recent legislative elections indicate Trump voters are willing to vote Democrat if their legislators refuse to listen. A Republican victory in 2018 may depend upon their party’s willingness to change. If it cannot we can expect many more Democratic victories in Trump country.