He's a crotchety old cuss, with a mean xenophobic streak in him, but as conservative commentators go, Pat Buchanan hits more than his share of bulls eyes. This article analyzing recent trends in presidential outcomes is a beauty, although still marred by some of Pat's usual blind spots.
He begins with a discussion of the geographic Democratic strongholds that make up what he calls "The Blue Wall":
"In the five successive presidential elections, beginning with Clinton's victory in 1992 and ending with Obama's in 2008, 18 states and the District of Columbia, with 248 electoral votes among them, voted for the Democratic ticket all five times. John McCain did not come within 10 points of Obama in any of the 18, and he lost D.C. 92-8...
Not only are the 18 hostile terrain for any GOP presidential ticket, Republicans hold only three of their 36 Senate seats and fewer than 1 in 3 of their House seats. "Democrats also control two-thirds of these 18 governorships, every state House chamber, and all but two of the state Senates," writes Brownstein.
In many of the 18, the GOP has ceased to be competitive. In the New England states, for example, there is not a single Republican congressman. In New York, there are only three.
The Blue Wall is The Kerry States less New Hampshire: Everything northeast of Virginia(again, save NH), the Great Lakes states save Ohio and Indiana, and all the Pacific states save Alaska. Drawing it out on a map, it looks like Canada seeped down into the US. With 270 electoral votes required to win, the GOP has its work cut out for it, especially considering there is no equivalent red wall. Buchanan again:
In the same five presidential contests, from 1992 to 2008, Republicans won 13 states all five times. But the red 13 have but 93 electoral votes, fewer than a third of the number in "the blue wall"...
Put succinctly, the red pool of voters is aging, shrinking and dying, while the blue pool, fed by high immigration and a high birth rate among immigrants, is steadily expanding.
Philosophically, too, the country is turning away from the GOP creed of small government and low taxes. Why?
Indeed, with more and more immigrants landing on our shores who are not white fundamentalists, the Whitewing Party can't pull off a majority any more, and will have to broaden its scope to attract new voters. Atheists, homosexuals, and minorities see little appeal in the Palinist GOP. The data doesn't look much better if you exclude the 2008 race and just look at the Clinton^2/Bush^2 years, the GOP only manages 135 to that same 248 for the Democrats.
Buchanan also accurately notes that those on the public dole are unlikely to vote other than in favor of their pocketbook, but he neglects to mention the most glaringly obvious reason voters are abandoning the GOP's small government, low taxes message: because the GOP themselves have abandoned it. Eight years of GOP domination of our federal government have resulted in bigger, not smaller government, with debt that should make anyone's tongue snap off in their mouth who mentions "fiscal responsibility" and "GOP" in the same sentence. The GOP themselves abandoned their principles, so why should anyone else buy into them?
Finally, the GOP faces a serious cultural problem, and here Buchanan's little red choochoo runs off the rails. He's part of the problem, so his analysis is expectedly blinkered.
"Lastly, Democrats are capturing a rising share of the young and college-educated, who are emerging from schools and colleges where the values of the counterculture on issues from abortion to same-sex marriage to affirmative action have become the new orthodoxy."
Pat is living in the ignorant past, as do so many GOP stalwarts. We should have expected no less from the man who still, in defiance of all the evidence, claims Sarah Palin was a net gain for the McCain ticket. The bottom line is that new voters emerging from college reject the GOP cultural plank not because of any orthodoxy, but simply because the science supports so little of it:
The Bible does not form the basis for our laws
Evolution is not "just a theory"
Homosexuals are not deviants living a chosen lifestyle
Allowing homosexual marriages will not destroy society
Aborting an early pregnancy is not a murder
Abstinence-only education does not work
Anthropocentric Global Warming is the consensus of scientists
Lowering taxes does not increase revenue
As more data comes in, these truths will become even more inconvenient for any Republican insistent on defying them, and will cause the GOP base that still buys them to become more intolerant and out of touch with the rest of society. Simply peruse the comments of Pat's or nearly any thread on Townhall these days, and you'll see many comments like this one:
"None of the established punditry have identified the reasons the GOP was crushed last year. Ideology was not an issue in the elections. American voters haven't a clue as to the ideology of either party. Few have any knowledge of politics, know nothing of the candidates - except Obama because they know from Oprah he's cool, and know nothing at all about how our government is structured or how it works. To attribute the GOP's loss to the disdain for conservatism is erroneous. We are being led to believe this lie because it is what the communists want."
This is what the Rovian divide and conquer strategy has left the GOP: a base of ignorant, paranoid, crusaders for Jesus who still think the communists (with their toadies, the dreaded liberals) are going to get us.
The GOP has a simple choice: get up to speed on science and the real world, stop pretending Jesus said "Go forth and change the laws", or become the Shakers of the 21st century.