The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not of The Davis Clipper.
We have now had nearly a month to reflect and analyze the national and local elections. One thing is certain: the national Republican Party and the Utah Democratic Party are in the same leaky boat.
Sure, the national Republicans are the stronger of the two. Mitt Romney trailed narrowly in the national popular vote, but lost decisively in the electoral vote. The Republican problem is that they appeal to the type of voter that is slowly becoming an extinct species.
The Democrats won the segments that are growing: all minorities, women, the under 35 crowd. They even came close to winning the military and the college graduate vote Р two groups thought to be solidly Republican. The Democrats won most religious groups as well: Catholic, Jews, all non-Baptist and evangelical Protestants, and the fastest growing group (the non-affiliated).
Who did the Republicans win? Older white males and farm families, both of which are decreasing in number year by year.
You can argue all you want about the wisdom of the voter; conservative columnist George Will said that Americans know more about the details of a refrigerator purchase than they do the views of their President. You can also debate the strength of the Romney candidacy; many leaders in the GOP are now sniping at him with Ronald Reagan biographer Craig Shirly calling Mitt “the worst candidate the Party could have chosen.”
However, the fact remains that the Republican “brand” of lower taxes, trickle-down economics, stiff immigration policy, and a scowl at gay rights is not, as Congressman Jason Chavetz says, cool. While the Democrats had Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Bruce Springsteen shouting their praises, the Republicans had gun-wielding Ted Nugent, Donald Trump, and Lindsay Lohan on their party bus. In movie terminology, Democrats were James Bond; Republicans were Grumpy Old Men.
Even worse news for the GOP is that the Tea Party Р increasingly the base of their voters Р seems happy to stop their feet in the sand and deride compromise. The “my way or the highway” approach makes Republicans looks mean-spirited and unyielding Р misfit toys in a playroom where people are searching for happiness.
Utah Democrats are in worse shape. While still competitive in Salt Lake County, they are as irrelevant statewide as cottage cheese is to a celebrity chef. Nearly a third of Utahns are voting a straight party ticket; that’s the equivalent of the Utah Jazz being down by 40 points at halftime. The only reason Congressman Jim Matheson won was because a third-party Libertarian candidate creamed off more than 6,000 votes (Matheson won by a mere 758 votes).
One Davis Democrat leader suggested a “You may be a Democrat ifЙ.” advertising campaign. If the Party is willing to play hardball (referring to many GOP legislators who voted to ban DUI checkpoints for constitutional reasons, “You may be a Democrat if you think drunk drivers should be removed from the highway”) the campaign may build support. But unless the Democrats can convince LDS voters that Satan didn’t write the party platform, they’ll continue to be the small kid relegated to the corner.
Both parties Р the Republicans nationally and the Democrats locally Р need a major makeover. I don’t see it coming.