Widgets Magazine


GOP 2016: Blue state, blue state

The prospects for a Republican White House in 2016 are slim, to say the least. The GOP would have to overcome numerous and complex challenges in order to win the necessary 270 Electoral College votes come Election Day. Not only do the Republicans face problems organizing their own party and popular base, but they are also competing against the ultra-organized Democratic Party, which already has very promising prospects for 2016.

The main challenge that the Republicans will face in 2016 is a demographic one. Ethnically white individuals constitute 89 percent of the party base, which does not bode well for the future. During the last Republican presidential win, in 2004, white Americans constituted approximately 67 percent of the population. By 2020 that number will be closer to 60 percent. This is especially concerning to Republican hopefuls because in the 2012 elections, Republicans only captured 20 percent of non-white voters. If the Republicans are unable to shift their message to capture the hopes of non-white Americans, they are at risk of being in serious trouble in the coming presidential election.

The demographic reality is exacerbated by the way that the Electoral College works in this nation. Nearly all states apportion all of their Electoral College votes to the majority winner of the state election, as opposed to giving them out representatively. As a consequence, even a below average Democratic candidate could start out with approximately 246 electoral votes. This was reflected by the fact that Obama only won 51 percent of the popular vote in 2012 but trounced Romney with an Electoral College lead of 332 votes to Romney’s 206.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has supported state legislatures’ initiatives to vote for changes to the system that would favor Republican candidates. However, opponents have characterized such measures as being blatant examples of election rigging. I’m not convinced that any bold changes in the fabric of our electoral process will bear any fruit by 2016. In fact, I’m sure that this electoral disadvantage will persist.


It would be one thing if there was a united and adaptive Republican Party that could face these hurdles together. However, the GOP has proved itself to be lethargic and out of touch. Democrats have successfully branded conservative candidates as being special interest representatives with antiquated social policies. Consider the fact that during the 2012 election, Republican pundits all believed that Romney was going to win. The key conservative polling group, Rasmussen, was consistently incorrect in predicting the electoral outcome of the primaries and the general election. Moreover, the sophisticated and data-driven campaign strategies of the Democratic Party have yet to penetrate the Republican organization.

To make matters worse, the key moderate prospect for the Republican seat, Chris Christie, has been relatively marginalized as a potential candidate because of a series of scandals in his home state of New Jersey leaving mostly radical party members as alternatives. Ted Cruz and Rick Perry are all considered hard-line conservatives that can fire up the shrinking base, but other than that they have little global appeal. Jeb Bush is not guaranteed to run. Rand Paul seems to be building a more nationally appealing image, but the idea that Americans will elect a self-avowed libertarian over a moderate Democrat is a pipe dream.

It may be far in the future but barring any extreme disaster in the Democratic Party that would makes its general election candidate unpalatable to the American people, I give the 2016 race to the Democrats by a large electoral college majority. America’s leading conservative party is just not sufficiently adaptive or nimble enough to navigate the enormous challenges it faces in competing for the White House.


Contact Anthony Ghosn at anghosn@stanford.edu.

  • Rick Martinez

    You’ve made some salient but scary points in your overview, Anthony. And your outcome may very well be correct. At the same time, perhaps you’ve missed two important elements about Americans–and about life, living, being and doing.

    Americans are thinkers and decision-makers, and they vote what they see and feel.
    Irrespective of being white and Democrat, or whatever, Americans remember what America was and what America should be. People really do want to say they are proud Americans. The American Dream does exist and can be reached. It does take work. And most Americans are givers, not takers. They don’t like the blatant lies by the persons in office today. They don’t respect a weak America in the world. How has this Democrat administration responded to or simply answered the questions of a continued lagging economy, real unemployment, higher cost of living, increasing energy costs, and the IRS, Benghazi and Veteran’s healthcare scandals? Americans are not blind, deaf or dumb to any of this…no matter what color or party they are.

    So, regarding life, living, being and doing—the Grand Old Party of the Republic may not have to win. It may be, simply, that the Democrats (which is not synonymous with democratic by the way) will just lose.

  • toto

    By 2016, The National Popular Vote bill could guarantee the majority of Electoral College
    votes, and thus the presidency, to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by replacing state winner-take-all laws for awarding electoral votes.

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of pre-determined outcomes. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80% of the states that now are just ‘spectators’ and ignored after the conventions.

    The bill would take effect when enacted by states with a majority of Electoral College votes—that is, enough to elect a President (270 of 538). The candidate receiving the most popular votes from all 50 states (and DC) would get all the 270+ electoral votes of the enacting states.

    The presidential election system, using the 48 state winner-take-all method or district winner method of awarding electoral votes, that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founders. It is the product of decades of change
    precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founders in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. States can, and have, changed their method of awarding electoral votes over the years. Historically, major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided).

    Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls

    in recent or past closely divided Battleground states: CO – 68%, FL – 78%, IA –75%, MI – 73%, MO – 70%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM– 76%, NC – 74%, OH – 70%, PA – 78%, VA – 74%, and WI – 71%;

    in Small states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE – 75%, ID – 77%, ME – 77%, MT – 72%, NE -74%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM – 76%, OK – 81%, RI – 74%, SD – 71%, UT – 70%, VT – 75%, WV – 81%, and WY – 69%;

    in Southern and Border states: AR – 80%, KY- 80%, MS – 77%, MO – 70%, NC – 74%, OK – 81%, SC – 71%, TN – 83%, VA – 74%, and WV – 81%; and

    in other states polled: AZ – 67%, CA – 70%, CT – 74%, MA – 73%, MN – 75%, NY – 79%, OR – 76%, and WA – 77%.

    Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.

    The bill has passed 33 state legislative chambers in 22 rural, small, medium, large, red, blue, and purple states with 250 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 11 jurisdictions with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.


  • Anthony Ghosn

    Sooner or later the ‘adults’ have to come to the scene of the accident and clean things up, right-size the ship and plot a new course for the country. Over the last 300 hundred years countries that have moved away from centralized government and towards capitalism have flourished. Japan is a very good example in its efforts to industrialize during the Meiji period of their past (1868 – 1912) ….the Japanese used their arts and cultural heritage to impress The World’s Fairs and gain exposure to world markets…..they have never looked backed since. They used their creative and industrious skills to pull themselves out of a feudal society and into one of the most powerful countries on earth through capitalism……
    I am a Lebanese American and could not be more proud of my grandparents / parents and their accomplishments back in the old country and then here in the US. Their creative and industrious skills have flourished in this country. We all want the same kinds of opportunities for our selves and for our children here in the US and around the world……but there are others that insist that equal opportunity is prejudiced and that equal outcomes is the direction the US should pursue. This mindset is dangerous and is the essence of what plagues us now here in the US with the lowest labor participation rates in decades, the highest welfare state ever and a very sluggish economy propped up with cheap Fed Bank i-rates.
    Anthony Ghosn is right, the Democratic machine is rolling fast and hard right now. 2016 is heavily favored for them and their destructive policies.
    However, do not count out the minds and aspirations of our youth as they begin to see their paychecks taxed at obscene rates, health care quality similar to the Veterans Admin and political correctness flying off the tracks on a crazy train.

  • AT

    One day you’re going to realize that its a good thing that Republicans will never win the White House again. First of all, I think your passive aggressive tone towards the Democratic Party is offensive: As you consider yourself an American, you should respect people of all backgrounds, not just those with similar views and opinions.

    While I appreciate your ideological articles like “Convergence,” I think your time would be much better spent writing about issues that matter: socioeconomic inequality, minimum wage, gun control, education, etc.

    The middle class has grown .3% in the US since 2000, which is staggeringly lower than other developed countries (Canada: 19%, Britain: 19%). The adjusted minimum wage is at an all time low for the last 40 years and is definitely not a “living wage” as it was originally intended. Gun control is out of control. Blacks are 9 times more likely to be arrested than whites. How can you call this country a place of “equality” and “freedom?”

    Perhaps you simply do not know about these issues that plague us. There are too many people in this country who cannot afford to live healthy lives and pursue the American dream. Perhaps these are issues you will never come to know in isolation from the real world—in the world of Anthony Ghosn.