The Republican Party is resurgent—or so goes the conventional wisdom. With its gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey, a surprise Senate win in Massachusetts, an energized “tea party” base, and an administration overreaching on health care, climate change, and spending, 2010 could shape up to be 1994 all over again.
Maybe. The political landscape sure looks greener for the GOP than it did a year ago, when talk of a permanent Democratic majority was omnipresent. But before John Boehner starts measuring the drapes in the speaker’s office, or the party exults about its possibilities in 2012, it’s worth noting that some of the key trends driving President Obama’s strong victory in 2008 still exist. Republicans who want to lead a majority party again need to address them head-on.
The GOP still gets a sobering message from young voters (two-thirds of whom voted for Obama), African-Americans, and Latinos (95 percent and 67 percent went blue, respectively). But these groups have voted Democratic for decades, and their strong turnout in 2008’s historic election wasn’t replicated in fall 2009, nor is it likely to be replicated again.