Donald Trump and his supporters have been trying to whip up the Republican base following his indictment, but just the opposite is happening — Democrats are surging where it counts.
Democrats scored the biggest election victory since the 2022 mid-terms in Wisconsin, where Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz beat a right-wing Trump Republican for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, tilting the court majority.
Not only is Trump polarizing, but Republican extremism in state’s like Florida, the repeal of Roe v. Wade and the GOP’s refusal to address gun violence could sink the party in the 2024 elections, not only for president, but Congress as well.
Republicans saw the handwriting on the wall in the 2020 mid-term elections when the much ballyhooed “red wave” failed to materialize.
In most off-election years, the party that holds the White House typically loses 45 or 50 seats in the House. Trump lost 45 House seats in the swing to a Democratic majority during the mid-terms after his election in 2016.
In 2020, Republicans were only able to eek out a House majority, 222 seats (50.6%) to 213 seats (47.8%), through extreme gerrymandering in states like Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
Donald Trump’s extremist candidates were widely viewed as unelectable.
But significantly, 2020 was expected to be the first election ever where millennial voters outnumbered baby boomers. And, the kids are mad as hell.
Trump with the aid of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lit a fuse when they packed the U.S. Supreme Court with right-wing extremists. Three of the justices went against their word under oath and overturned Roe v. Wade. The seminal abortion ruling had been settled law for more than 50 years.
Millions of Americans were appalled at the prospect of losing a constitutional right to abortion, causing a sharp decline in respect for the Supreme Court. Young voters were the most severely impacted.
The decision, led to more restrictive, or outright abortion bans, in at least 25 states. Doctors, health workers, women of all income levels and young teens are all targets of anti-abortion laws, which criminalize the procedure with stiff fines and imprisonment.
Gun violence particularly affects young voters and the latest shooting in Nashville, Tenn., produced an outpouring of protests by students across the country.
State Republican lawmakers in Tennessee responded by threatening to expel two Democratic colleagues who participated in the protest, which highlights the problem the GOP faces nationally.
Instead of addressing issues that are motivating young voters, Republican lawmakers are doubling down on extremist positions that alienate them. No where is that more evident than in Florida.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing a radical agenda that will box him in a corner, if he chooses to run for president in 2024.
Florida has the dubious distinction of being home to more people arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection than any other state. DeSantis as governor, has repeatedly used the powers of his office to pander to the state’s extremist, authoritarian base.
But his policies are not much more than political stunts aimed at waging war against “woke” culture.
DeSantis used state funds to fly a group of bewildered migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, which did nothing to address the immigrant problem in the United States.
He also pushed through a law to allow concealed carry of handguns in the state without a permit or training. The state already ranks ninth for gun homicides, according to CDC figures.
Yet, dissatisfaction with U.S. gun laws has risen to 63%, the highest level in Gallup’s 23-year trend, and an increase of seven points over the past year.
At the same time, satisfaction with gun policy has fallen by the same amount to 34%, tying the lowest reading on record.
Again, young voters are the most impacted by gun violence.
Some 70% of young Americans likely to vote believe that gun control laws in the United States should be stricter, according to a new national poll of America’s 18- to 29-year-olds by Harvard’s Institute of Politics. Overall, 64% of 18-to 29-year-olds hold this view, and 58% support a ban on assault-style weapons.
DeSantis has also attacked freedom of the press, banned books in public schools, outlawed college courses on race relations and played to an extremist conspiracy theory about voter fraud by enacting a special task force that only proved it was a nonexistent problem.
The Republican governor has also pushed through one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation, even though 61% of U.S. adults say abortion should be legal in all or most cases; only 37% think abortion should be illegal, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.
Just as the extremist Supreme Court galvanized attention on abortion, Trump has proven to be a catalyst for the new Democratic surge.
His indictment on 34 felony charges for falsifying business records to hide payoffs to a porn star, a Playboy model and his own doorman in advance of the 2016 presidential election brought into sharp focus one the sleaziest episodes in American politics.
Not since the election of 1884, perhaps, best known as the “dirtiest” campaign in American history, has a tawdry scandal so defined the character of a former president and potential 2024 candidate.
It seems inconceivable that suburban moms can get behind a serial philanderer, who has been married three times, had sex with a porn star and Playboy model while his third wife was pregnant and then, paid them off with hush money by falsifying his business records.
White, married, minivan-driving, home-owning suburban women emerged as a key swing vote in the 1996 election, and their influence has been felt ever since.
Today, even fewer suburban women are married and traditional households make up even less of a share of the typical suburb. The white share of the suburban population has plummeted to 61 percent, from 84 percent in 1990, according to The New York Times.
What’s more women voters are exhausted by culture wars and support optimistic, common-sense politics on issues such as abortion, crime and gun control.
In 2020, President Biden prevailed among women, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Research. Neither Trump, nor DeSantis has done anything to alter that outcome.
Indeed, Trump continues to play the victim, pushing tropes like election fraud, which is well-worn and broadly debunked.
In the process, he’s becoming a caricature of a failed politician. His legal woes are only growing as he clings tenaciously to his extremist base with calls for violence, racist attacks, anti-Semitism and apocalyptic hyperbole that casts doubt on the future of the nation and our democracy.
Instead of pulling away, Republicans continue to defend and rationalize the disgraced former president’s illegal and corrupt conduct. Their only answer is to reflexively project onto Democrats, most persistently by trying to demonize President Biden through the actions of his son, a private citizen with no connection to the government.
As long as GOP lawmakers embrace the “big lie” of a stolen election and QAnon style conspiracy theories, the party has little chance of expanding its ever shrinking base to crucial young voters.
Indeed, nearly three-quarters of college-age voters do not think the Republican Party represents them in any capacity, according to a nationwide poll by College Pulse, which sampled more than 1,500 students at 285 different colleges and universities.
Sixty-six percent of students today cannot imagine registering as Republicans in the next 10 years. And 43% think the Republican Party has become directly associated with racist, unconstitutional policies, which they perceive as a threat to their own future, and democracy in general, according to the poll.
The Democratic resurgence is happening where it matters most, in state and local elections. The mid-terms marked the beginning of a sea change in power.
Democrats won or defended majorities in state legislatures across the country, weakening GOP power on issues at the heart of the national political debate.
What’s more, Democrats are sigificantly increasing spending on state and local races, finally matching a decade-long effort by Republicans to win control of State legislatures.
“We’re clawing our way back to power after 50 years of investment for Republicans and so much neglect for so long by the Democratic Party,” Vicky Hausman, president of Forward Majority, told Axios.
Forward Majority, a Democratic super PAC focused on the states, invested over $20 million targeting 25 seats in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Arizona.
But the real kicker is shifting demographics.
The media has failed to focus on the emerging trend. But Democrats are surging thanks largely to young voters. The first signs were evident even as far back as 2016,
If only 18- to 40-year-olds had voted in the 2016 election, Trump would have lost Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, according to a CNN voter analysis.
An estimated 10,000 new millennial and Gen Z voters are turning 18 every day. They lean overwhelmingly Democratic and they are increasingly becoming activists.
In fact, U.S. Census estimates suggest that Americans under the age of 18 are already majority minority, meaning minorities of all stripes now outnumber those who identify as “white.” In contrast, more than three-quarters of those over 65 years old identify as “white.”
“It will usher in a new era in American politics that could last a generation or more,” says Brett Aitken Managing Director of Stansberry Research, a private publishing and investment research company in Baltimore.