Muftic: The challenges facing the GOP
The “party of no” now must become the “party of yes” or face an electorate in 2016 already fed up with inaction on issues important to them. The monkey is now on the GOP’s back to provide solutions.
The GOP won with anti-Obama and anti-gridlock sentiment. If the GOP thinks all they have to do is make good on promises to roll back Obama’s programs, and send the White House legislation they know will get vetoed, they may lay the seeds for their own defeat in 2016. Voters clearly want more than more gridlock. If the GOP proposes alternatives, what they advocate may turn blocks of voters against them. If what they pass accomplishes little, they risk being branded failures.
2016 is not 2014. The make-up of the electorate will be larger and more diverse in 2016 because it is a presidential election year. Only a third of the electorate, older with fewer minorities, voted in 2014. The GOP will be defending more Senate seats in blue states in 2016 than Democrats contested in red states in 2014, with a greater chance of Democrats retaking the Senate.
There are three issues that could activate blocks of the electorate to vote against the GOP: immigration, health care reform, and middle class prosperity.
Hispanics historically turn out in greater numbers in presidential years than in midterms. In recent elections that has been sufficient to keep the GOP from gathering enough electoral votes from battleground states with large Latino minorities to win the White House.
The newly elected representatives and senators may have run on anti-immigrant platforms, but they will not be able to hide votes on the record that could solidify the Hispanic support of the Democratic party for another decade. GOP threats to take revenge on President Obama’s executive orders regarding deportation will certainly further alienate them. Another turnoff will be if GOP fails to provide a legal status for undocumented immigrants already in the U.S.
So far the GOP has found simply advocating repeal sheltered them from having to craft fiscally sound alternatives to Obamacare that will allow the millions who like their Obamacare plans to keep their Obamacare plans. Polls show voters want Obamacare “fixed,” not repealed, and taking away benefits could cause a revolt from the deprived. However, the GOP has not yet found a way to fund changes that would pass Congressional Budget Office scrutiny while also providing similar popular benefits and affordability to current and potential 30 million customers.
If the GOP attempts to push through legislation that increases college costs, makes health care unaffordable again, or opposes minimum wage increases and leaves the middle class waiting for economic growth to trickle down to them, they will give Democrats a gift of a 2016 campaign issue: middle class well-being. Short term job creation programs for infrastructure and the Keystone Pipeline may provide better wages and jobs for some, but not for all sectors. The GOP has two years come up with real solutions to aid the struggling middle class or face fickle, fed up voters in 2016.
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