Right On: Conservatism’s rising tide

2016 Electoral map by counties

OPINION – She won, didn’t she? She got 2.6 million more popular votes than Trump did. But that darned Electoral College denied her the win she deserved. Democrat pundits are apoplectic, main stream media are aghast, and college students are in tears, looking for campus “safe spaces” to recover.

But a more thorough reading of nationwide election results shows that Clinton’s popular vote total doesn’t reflect the public will. Elections were held for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. State governors and legislatures were elected nationwide. Taking a look at these races paints a picture of a rising conservative tide.

First, add a dimension to the presidential popular vote. Four candidates ran national campaigns: Clinton, Trump, Johnson and Stein. These last two candidates, representing the Libertarian and Green parties, respectively, garnered almost 6 million votes.

Add in unaffiliated Evan McMullin’s 650,000 votes and Constitutionist Darrell Castle’s 200,000 votes and a different picture emerges. About 5 million more votes were cast for minor candidates in 2016 than were cast in 2012, most likely reflecting voter disaffection with both major party candidates.

So what can we learn from minor candidate votes? Stein voters are mostly disaffected Democrats who want a more aggressive environmental action program. Add them to Clinton’s votes and about 49 percent of voters wanted Obama’s policies and programs extended and expanded.

Voters who chose Johnson, McMullin and Castle are in the smaller, less intrusive government camp. Add them to Trump’s total and we see that over 51 percent of voters are conservatives, unhappy with the size and reach of government.

But most likely, 51 percent is too low.

For evidence, examine the Senate and House races and the state government elections.

Republicans held 24 of the 34 Senate seats up for election in 2016, making them especially vulnerable. Pre-election polls indicated that they might lose their majority in the Senate. What happened?

Republicans lost only two seats and continue to hold a significant majority, 52-48.

As a side note, 23 seats held by the Democratic Party are up for grabs in 2018; holding them all will be tough. In the House, Republicans retained an overwhelming 241-194 advantage, losing only six seats.

Tip O’Neill, Democratic speaker of the House during the Reagan years, famously said, “All politics is local.”

So how did the parties fare in state elections?

Thirty-one states have Republican governors while only 18 have Democrats. (Alaska has an independent.) Republicans control both state legislative houses in 32 states while Democrats control both in 13. The others are split.

There are more Republicans in state offices today than at any time since the 1920s. Utah has a lot of company these days.

Republicans are at or near a high-water mark across the country.

So did Trump have long coattails that swept down-ballot Republicans into office? On the contrary, Trump tended to do worse than Republicans running for federal and state offices. His abrasive style and occasionally outrageous statements made him a lightning rod for criticism.

Further, Trump was opposed or given only lukewarm support by mainstream Republicans, an unprecedented occurrence for a major party presidential nominee. Nonetheless he won, undoubtedly aided by the solid Republican showing for Congress and at the state level.

I am very much in a wait-and-see mode with Trump. How the next four years turn out is highly uncertain. But I can’t help but shake my head at how Democrats are reacting to the Republican sweep. They have been pounded in four straight elections: 2010, 2012, 2014 and now 2016.

Yes, I know Obama won a second term in 2012, to the country’s detriment. But in spite of his personal popularity, Republicans made gains that year in the House and Senate.

So what are many Democrats doing to reverse their fortunes?

Common sense would dictate some soul searching leading to new directions and messaging. Instead, Democrats are complaining in the liberal media that “deplorable” voters (Clinton’s word) elected Trump, that white supremacists are the backbone of his support, that Hispanics will be deported en masse, that African Americans and gays are in danger and that abortion will soon be outlawed.

Scare tactics are the Democrats’ order of the day to whip their supporters into a frenzy of anti-Trump fervor. And for the slightly less gullible, they are making noises about “reforming” the Electoral College. Maybe Obama can do that with another of his famous executive orders.

Democrats today are dominated by big city liberal elites, public employee unions and minorities. Their hold on college professors and the mainstream media reinforces their belief in the moral superiority of their cause.

Why should they change when they know they are right? Living in this “same old, same old” world, House Democrats re-elected 76 year old Nancy Pelosi as minority leader for her eighth term.

Thoughtful Democrats know that the Republican tide will recede someday. Some are beginning to formulate new approaches to reaching “deplorable” voters.

Democrats went through a similar period after Walter Mondale’s disastrous loss to Ronald Reagan in 1984. (He carried only his home state of Minnesota.) Out of the ashes, Democrats fashioned the centrist “New Democrat” movement that carried Bill Clinton to victory in 1992.

The sooner Democrat leaders and their allies adjust their thinking and tactics to match today’s realities, the sooner they will become competitive again.

Howard Sierer is a developing opinion columnist with St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected] | [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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  • 42214 December 15, 2016 at 11:10 am

    Thoughtful, articulate and fact based article. Very well written. Ed should follow suit, if possible, and he might gain a little credibility. Although, it’s the Eds of this country that give rise to conservatism and momentum to the so called movement. Keep spewing open borders, safe places, urinals in women’s bathrooms and the Alt-left doctrine and the Alt-right will continue to win national elections.

  • Chris December 15, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    You fail to note that voter turnout in 2016 was the lowest in 20 years. The simple fact that Donald Trump got fewer votes than Romney in 2012 and McCain in 2008 should tell you that no tidal wave of political will occurred in 2016. The “pounding” you claim that Democrats took is apparently all in your head considering that they gained seats in both the Senate and the House. So, you are the “developing opinion columnist”? Seems you need a little more “development.”

    • Henry December 15, 2016 at 6:51 pm

      Take your own advice and read beyond the headlines. The Washington Post gives the breakdown about the 2016 Presidential election turnout: “Turnout up slightly in terms of raw numbers, but down as a percentage of those eligible. A drop in votes for the Democrat and a spike in votes for third party candidates, with the Republican holding steady.”

      Your “simple fact” is not true; according to the New York Times, Trump in 2016 received more votes than Romney in 2012 and McCain in 2008. The Times reports that Trump received 62,914,474 votes, Romney received 59,134,475 votes, and McCain received 58,319,442 votes.

      The author already pointed out that “Republicans held 24 of the 34 Senate seats up for election in 2016, making them especially vulnerable.” For them to only lose 2 seats is a tactical victory.

      Regarding the House race, the New York Times said “There was no doubt that Democrats would pick up seats this year, chipping away at the Republicans’ 247-member majority, their largest since the 1930s. But Democrats ultimately fell well short of expectations.”

  • comments December 15, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    So will all Trump’s rhetoric about cleaning up illegal immigration be put into policy or was it just a typical political ploy. That’s the big question. Or will it be republican politics as usual with their absolutely manic enthusiasm of no borders and mass immigration policies (same as the neo-libs). If one washes aside Obama’s support of gay and trans “liberties” and focuses on his economic policy his admin has not been this liberal free-for-all as this type of author would have us believe, and has leaned conservative in a typical way, with supporting massive banks, stock markets, no real reform in broken policies, Obamacare (which in the end just turned into a massive giveaway to the insurance industry)–not so liberal, as it didn’t actually reform anything at any deep level, and likely just made more of a mess.

    This author is stuck in a box of us vs them, liberal vs conservative. This is a box that our ruling elites love to have us in, as it keeps them firmly in power. It’s an uninformative, shallow way of thinking.

  • Chris December 15, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    “a significant majority, 52-48” LOL, what would you consider an “insignificant” majority?

  • 42214 December 15, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    Here is a lesson in significant majority and how insignificant it really is. When I was a USN officer several junior officers approached the captain about an issue stating that the majority wanted to do A and the Capt wanted to do B. We ended up doing B when the Captain pointed out that no majority, excuse the pun, trumps his authority. 52-48 is all the majority needed. The House is a “significant majority”. The Supreme Court will soon be a significant majority. The state governorships is a significant majority. The only thing Obama ever said that was true was “Elections have consequences”. Let the “Consequences” begin.

    • Chris December 15, 2016 at 2:30 pm

      your pathetic story is completely irrelevant to the discussion here, but then again, your comments are always irrelevant.

      • 42214 December 16, 2016 at 8:49 am

        Here is a good analogy. The popular vote that Hillary won by almost 3 million votes is the “significant majority” in my pathetic story. The electoral college is my captain. What happened to your significant majority? Ask the captain.

  • Common Sense December 16, 2016 at 7:24 am

    More of this guy less of ED. (or no Ed) What a nice change reading an opinion piece that is actually fact based.

  • 42214 December 16, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Well, so much for rising conservatism. I doubt Trump will be elected by the electoral college after viewing the video by “A lister Hollywood Elites” imploring faithless voter defections. I wasn’t worried watching Mike Ferrell, Debra Messing or even James Cromwell. They are all highly respected and influential leaders. The death blow was dealt by the one and only Martin Sheen’s impassioned plea. How can conservatism overcome such moral authority that these “A Listers” exude. I guess it was nice while it lasted.

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