CRF Blog

Past and future Trumps

by David De La Torre

In Past and future Trumps, The Economist explores the effects insurgent candidates have had on their parties in the past, and it concludes that, win or lose, Donald Trump will likely leave a permanent mark on the Republican Party.

The rapidly increasing racial diversity of the electorate between then [1972] and now has turned this from a losing strategy into a winning one. McGovern did better with working women than men and better with professionals than with blue-collar workers. This, too, made him a loser in 1972 but provided the template for Democratic victories in 2008 and 2012. Polls suggest that Hillary Clinton may be the first Democratic presidential candidate for at least 60 years to win a majority of white voters with college degrees….

Before McGovern, Barry Goldwater also got thrashed and transformed his party in the process. Goldwater lost 44 states on a platform of huge tax cuts, pouring weedkiller on the federal government, opposition to civil rights and confronting communism abroad. “Extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice,” he told the 1964 convention in Daly City, California.

Voters disagreed, and not even a powerful televised speech made in support of Goldwater by Ronald Reagan, then a TV presenter, could persuade them otherwise. The future for Goldwater’s ideas did not look bright. “The election has finished the Goldwater school of political reaction,” wrote Richard Rovere in the New Yorker, reflecting the consensus of what would now be called the mainstream media but then was simply known as the press. It could hardly have been more wrong. [more]