New House GOP campaign chair Tom Emmer won't blame Trump for 2018 losses and refuses to acknowledge that suburban areas are abandoning the Republican Party.
Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) isn't looking to change much about the GOP's disastrous 2018 strategy as he takes over as chair of their 2020 House efforts. But this is the same man who thinks it's a mistake to try to increase the number of women in the Republican House caucus, which will number only 13 in 2019.
In an interview with the National Journal, Emmer won't to assign any blame to Trump, touted the GOP's economic message (which was a failed, massively unpopular tax scam), and stuck his head in the sand when confronted with Republican losses in suburban areas.
When confronted with Trump's massive unpopularity, Emmer "disputed attempts to fault the president specifically and pushed back on assumptions that Trump would be a liability in 2020," wrote the Journal. "You're definitely impacted, but you don't rise or fall based on the executive," Emmer said.
Unsurprisingly, the data doesn't back up Emmer's claim. According to a post-election analysis by Vox, "The GOP's problem in 2018 wasn't just that Democrats came out motivated and in bigger numbers than in 2014. Their problem was that a small percentage of Republicans who don't like Trump didn't stay home — instead, they showed up, and they voted for Democrats."
"The GOP may not want to acknowledge it. But if they want to win in 2020, they should," Vox added, as if anticipating the disingenuous spin from Republicans like Emmer.
On the message of the campaign, Emmer reluctantly admitted Trump's racist, anti-immigrant drumbeat in the final two years of the 2018 campaign, and especially in the last few weeks, may have been harmful. But his solution?
Emmer lamented the GOP's "failing to win over independent voters with a cohesive message on the booming economy," writes the Journal. But when Republicans tried to run on an economic message, it failed spectacularly. Their singular achievement — a $2 trillion, deficit-financed tax scam to give billions to Wall Street corporations — flopped with voters so badly that Republicans stopped running ads about it.
Finally, Emmer simply won't acknowledge the massive shift among suburban voters away from Republicans and in favor of Democrats.
"There's a narrative that people are trying to build out there that somehow there's been this shift, this political realignment in the suburbs," Emmer told the Journal. "That's not true. It isn't there," he added, refusing to see the evidence so plainly visible to anyone who wants to look.
"Today Democrats are benefiting from both the changing nature of the suburbs and the changing preferences of white college-educated voters there who are repelled by the president," says a New York Time post-election analysis. In fact, the analysis shows that an overwhelming majority of the seats Democrats flipped are in suburban districts.
In California alone, the Republicans lost seven suburban districts, wiping out half of the state's GOP congressional delegation.
Looking forward to 2020, one pollster told the National Journal that it is unlikely Trump or these voters change much in just two years.
Emmer did outline some tweaks to the 2020 GOP strategy. He wants to run a more decentralized campaign, focus more on fundraising, and seek to spend their money more wisely.
"On calls to drum up support for the chairmanship, Emmer said he was inundated with complaints about the $5 million spent on TV ads to help Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock in Virginia," the Journal notes. "It was the committee's largest expenditure in any district, and Comstock lost by 12 points." Comstock's district is in the Washington, D.C., suburbs.
In a nutshell, Emmer plans to run again on a failed 2018 strategy, which includes an embrace of Trump, a failed economic platform, and a resistance to the idea that suburban voters don't like either.
Sounds like a winning strategy. For Democrats.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.