The GOP Can Win; the GQP Will Lose

by John English

Is there a liberal version of CPAC that happens every year? I can’t think of it if there is. CPAC gets wall-to-wall coverage each time it’s held. Why is this? It used to be a place where the media could take a peek at mainstream conservative thought, a weekend Comic-Con where cosplayers wear tri-cornered hats instead of Batman masks. CPAC has eroded the past few years into an event welcomed now only by those in the populist-nationalist wing of the party, where Marjorie Taylor Greene is revered while Ben Sasse is reviled. It’s a place where the MSM can now highlight the biggest freaks and geeks on the right.

Consider the differences from CPAC 2011 to CPAC 2021. Ten years CPAC was a place where people like Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, John Boehner, Michael Steele, George Will, Jonah Goldberg, SE Cupp, Joe Walsh, Pat Caddell, Mitch Daniels, and Pat Toomey felt comfortable participating and whose views were welcomed. Topics included “Cut Pentagon Spending, Strengthen America”, “Engaging America Through Pop Culture”, and “The Conservative Case for Criminal Justice Reform.” Contrast that with 2021, where even speakers like Mike Pence and Nikki Haley stayed away, a golden idol of Trump in red-white-and-blue shorts was on display, and many topics were dedicated to the Big Lie that the election was stolen (“How Judges & Media Refused to Look at the Evidence”, “The Left Pulled the Strings, Covered It Up, and Even Admits It”, “Fraudulent 2020 Elections in South Korea and the United States”). Speakers included grifters like Jenna Ellis, Dan Bongino, Charlie Kirk, and James O’Keefe. I was amused that Haley tweeted about Trump’s call for party unity in his CPAC address when he used the time to name each senator and representative that voted for his impeachment/conviction and said they needed to get rid of every single one of them. The exiled king still demands fealty.

And yet as the Grand Old Party seems to be morphing into Trump’s Grand QAnon Party, the Democrats haven’t been able to do much to persuade the country to move further left. Indeed, what defines something as “left” or “right” is getting hazier. Many traditional conservatives would argue Trumpism isn’t conservative at all. If populist-nationalist fascism is further right, then further left would be what? Populist-Marxist socialism? Are we just a few years away from having to choose between Mussolini and Stalin every four years? (Look how far I slipped on that slope.)


So far, the Republican party is determined to keep Trump as its de-facto leader despite his losing the White House, House, and Senate in one term. But when one compares the down-ballot races, the GOP outperformed Trump. This would imply many voters liked the message, just not the messenger.

Compare some exit-poll numbers between the 2016 and 2020 elections.

Clinton v Trump, % of total vote
Liberals – 84,10, 26
Moderates – 52,41, 39
Conservatives – 15,81, 35

Biden v Trump, % of total vote
Liberals – 89,10, 24
Moderates – 64,34, 38
Conservatives – 14,85, 38

Clinton v Trump, % of total vote
Democrats – 89,9, 36
3rd Party/Other – 41,47, 31
Republicans – 7,90, 33

Biden v Trump, % of total vote
Democrats – 94,5, 37
3rd Party/Other – 54,41, 30
Republicans – 6,94, 33

The biggest shift is from moderates/independents. Moderates’ support for the Democratic ticket at the top went from 52% to 64%, Independents from 41% to 54%. All the groaning about undecided voters and voters in the middle… well, that’s where races are decided. Both sides can rally their bases (94% Dems for Biden, 94% GOP for Trump), but the game is played between the 40-yard lines.

But let’s look at down-ballot performances for the 2020 Senate races.
Tuberville (AL) – 60.1% (gain)
– Trump – 62%
Sullivan (AK) – 54.3%
– Trump – 52.8%
McSally (AZ) – (lost)
– Trump – (lost)
Cotton (AK) – 66.6%
– Trump – 62.4%
Gardner (CO) – lost)
– Trump – (lost)
Perdue (GA) – (lost)
– Trump – (lost)
Loeffler (GA) – (lost)
– Trump – (lost)
Risch (ID) – 62.6%
– Trump – 63.8%
Ernst (IA) – 51.8%
– Trump – 53.1%
Marshall (KS) – 53.5% (n)
– Trump – 56.2%
McConnell (KY) – 57.8%
– Trump – 62.1%
Cassidy (LA) – 59.3%
– Trump – 58.4%
Collins (ME) – 51%
– Trump – (lost)
Hyde-Smith (MS) – 55.3%
– Trump – 57.6%
Daines (MT) – 55%
– Trump – 56.9%
Sasse (NE) – 64.7%
– Trump – 56%
Tillis (NC) – 48.7%
– Trump – 49.9%
Inhofe (OK) – 62.9%
– Trump – 65.3%
Graham (SC) – 54.9%
– Trump – 55.1%
Rounds (SD) – 65.7%
– Trump – 61.7%
Hagerty (TN) – 62.1% (n)
– Trump – 60.6%
Cornyn (TX) – 53.6%
– Trump – 52%
Capito (WV) – 70.3%
– Trump – 68.6%
Lummis (WY) – 73.1% (n)
– Trump – 69.9%

So of the 27 Senate seats that could have stayed or turned to GOP, Trump gained 1 and outperformed 10 winning senators, while losing 4 and underperformed for 12 senators. Compare that to the 17 Senate seats that could have stayed or turned Dem (there is some overlap, as there were a total of 35 seats up for re-election), Biden gained 4 and outperformed 5 winning senators, while losing 1 and underperforming for 7 winning senators.
Net Effect
Trump -5
Biden +1

Among all this, I see that the Republicans would have done that much better if they’d had an incumbent who had cracked 50% approval polling average at any point in his term. Instead, he lost the Electoral College 306-232 and the popular vote by over 7 million votes.


In state news, the Utah Republican Party issued a welcome statement that kept the tent big enough for Mitt Romney and Mike Lee to vote their consciences, even though they came to different conclusions. I am personally glad they didn’t succumb to the purification censures to which other Republican parties have resorted, like Arizona, Nebraska, and Wyoming. There is one 14-member Utah group that will introduce a resolution to censure Mitt Romney. Of the ones I know, I would classify some as far-right, but I don’t know how many have bought into the false conspiracies that the election was stolen, that the Capitol attack was a BLM/Antifa inside job, etc. I will vote to oppose it, and I hope enough good Republicans will do the same and help the tent to remain big.

Liked it? Take a second to support Utah.Politico.Hub on Patreon!

Related posts