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Why Republicans Should Try to Lose the 2016 Presidential Election

Updated on April 14, 2016

How losing can help the GOP win

I’m starting to think that the Republican Party wants to lose this year’s presidential election. When you look at the two men leading the delegate count, it seems that the voters are going out of their way to pick someone who can’t win. It’s no wonder that the party leadership is pulling its collective hair out. We have a man currently on top who, in addition to not being much of a conservative, has a talent for offending virtually every demographic in the country (except for white dudes). In second you have Ted Cruz, a Senator who has quickly made a name for himself over the past few years by openly criticizing and defying the party establishment at every opportunity. It’s actually kind of fun to watch some of Cruz’s congressional colleagues suck it up and endorse him as the only seeming alternative to the Donald.

You could make a strong case that the Republican Party is reaping the consequences of political forces that have served them well in recent years. Cruz was swept to the Senate as part of the Tea Party wave that has been so crucial to Republican success since the election of Obama. Fed up with that supposed socialist Obama and the establishment Republicans who had not gone far enough in rolling back federal government spending and regulation, Tea Partiers promised to blast into Washington and clean the cesspool up. Emerging as one of the Tea Party’s strongest spokesmen, Cruz has more than once shown that he is willing to shut down the government in order to get his way. According to Cruz and his supporters, the era of compromise and corruption was coming to an end.

Trump, on the other hand, has employed a somewhat different strategy. While also ranting and raving against establishment Republicans, Trump has gotten the most attention for his statements about illegal immigrants and Muslims. In saying these provocative things, Trump has been capitalizing on the nativism that has been lingering slightly beneath the surface in the thinking of many Republicans for decades. Ever since the Democrats became the party of civil rights in the 1960s, some have gravitated toward the Republicans in an effort to defend the mainstream (white) American culture from foreign (non-white) influence. With the election of Obama, that nativist streak became even stronger, and it should be no surprise that Trump, one of the most outspoken proponents of the birther controversy, would be the one to take advantage of it.

At the national level, neither of these points of view is likely to be a winner. Many Americans like or have at least grown accustomed to some of the federal programs – Social Security and Medicare in particular– that the Tea Party people want to cut or reform. Tea Party purists who refuse to compromise frustrate the many Americans – especially independents – who are fed up with gridlock in Washington. In a country where non-white people are a steadily growing percentage of the population, nativism is repulsive and even downright scary to increasingly powerful voting blocs. But at the local level, in places with the proper demographics, nativism and/or Tea Party ideological purity – especially when mixed with a heavy dose of evangelical Christianity – can still be a winner. So even if either Cruz or Trump becomes the nominee and goes down in flames, this by no means spells the death of the Republican Party, and the resulting inevitable claims that the Republican Party must rethink its message will be premature.

In 2008, Barack Obama was swept into power along with strong Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, and some people argued that a major ideological shift had taken place. But outside of President Obama managing to get reelected in 2012, it has mostly been bad news for Democrats ever since. In 2010 and 2014, Republicans achieved great success in Congressional elections, state elections, and at the local level. Much of this was driven by the anger that has helped Cruz and Trump be so successful in 2016, an anger increased by the fact that a black Democrat was in power. Given how strong the Republicans are at every level of government (except the White House) right now, one could argue that President Obama was the best thing that ever happened to them. And Hillary Clinton, who instills almost as much fear and paranoia in the hearts of Republicans as Obama, could also be a godsend to Republicans if she wins the presidency.

Often, the winners of elections are not necessarily the ones who represent the views of the majority of people. Instead, the more successful party is the one that gets its voters to show up. Democrats have shown a tendency over the past couple of decades to only show up in large numbers during presidential election years. Then, during the mid-term years, they fall into a state of complacency. Republicans, however, are often especially motivated to show up during the midterms because they are angry about Democratic control of the White House. And if that Democratic president happens to be black or female, the anger will be even stronger. Steady doses of nativism and attacks against excessive federal government power are excellent ways to tap into that anger and get Republicans to the polls.

In early American history, if people cared about politics at all, they tended to focus on local politics. Today, the opposite tends to be true, with the media and public generally fixating on Washington. But then and now, the most important political decisions affecting the daily lives of Americans have often been made in city halls and state capitols. Republicans appear to understand this better than Democrats, so even if they continue on a path that makes it difficult to win the White House or even consistently hold on to the Senate, they are likely to keep control of the House of Representatives, particularly if they continue doing well in the state legislatures that draw congressional districts. Then, so long as they keep the House – and control at least 41 seats in the Senate - they can stop any Democratic president from accomplishing very much. And from the Republican point of view, the less the federal government does the better. A dysfunctional Washington feeds their narrative about the incompetent federal government, and with Washington neutralized, they can focus on promoting their agenda at the local level where much of the important governing happens anyway.

So is losing this presidential election the result of a brilliant strategy? I doubt it. But whether intentional or not, losing the presidency could once again prove to be a great way for the party with fewer members to gain more control of the country. Any changes made to improve the odds of gaining the presidency risks squelching some of that anger that has served the Republican Party so well at every other level of government. If I was a Republican, I would be cheering Cruz and (especially) Trump on.


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    • Freeway Flyer profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Swendson 

      2 years ago

      I didn't delete any comments. Since I don't go on this page that often, I had not seen your comment yet, so I could not approve it.

      I actually don't really understand your comment. Was I trying to destroy America when I said that Republicans should try to lose? I was just making the point that sometimes losing the presidency is the best thing you can do to succeed at other levels of government, as the 2010 and 2014 elections made very clear. Republicans have largely been successful in recent years because of Obama, not in spite of him. And I would not be surprised in Democrats do better in 2018 than in the previous two midterms, largely because of Trump.

    • Dont Taze Me Bro profile image

      Banned cause of PISSANTS Promisem and Dean Traylor 

      2 years ago

      Yeah, you can delete my comments demonstrating your idiocy but that only confirms that you can't debate or even entertain honest criticism that you have no answer for so you resort to censoring your critics - giving you a hub page is like handing a child a loaded gun.

    • Dont Taze Me Bro profile image

      Banned cause of PISSANTS Promisem and Dean Traylor 

      2 years ago

      lol You really don't have a clue. Because of the last 4 elections the Republicans have control of the Presidency, the Congress and will put constitutionalists on the Supreme court, possibly 3 or 4. Only 4 States have legislatures and governorships under Democrat control.

      To do what you advocate the supreme court would be lost for the next 30 years, nothing good would get done by congress, Obamacare will totally fail and not be replaced, criminals would be running the government for the next 4 maybe 8 years.

      Yeah, this is a really great hub page...if your goal is to destroy America.

    • Freeway Flyer profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Swendson 

      2 years ago

      Yep. The Republicans blew it. Just think of all the gains they could have made in the 2018 midterms, and in 2020, they could have made even more congressional gains by running against Clinton. Now, the GOP will be tarnished in the future as the party of Trump. Democrats, who normally stay home during midterms, will be fired up in 2018.

    • Dont Taze Me Bro profile image

      Banned cause of PISSANTS Promisem and Dean Traylor 

      2 years ago

      lol well this hub page was a waste!

    • Freeway Flyer profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Swendson 

      2 years ago

      But if Trump actually wins, the GOP will become his party for a while, who may not bode well for the GOP's future.

    • Freeway Flyer profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Swendson 

      2 years ago

      Lately, it seems that neither side has gotten what they wanted. This may be why there is so much anger on both sides this election.

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 

      3 years ago from Auburn, WA

      A loss might be good. Cleanse the Party. We need it. Cruz's political future is zero after 2016. Trump is done too. Maybe the grownups can take over again.

      I also agree with you on SS and other programs that have become a part of American life. We need to move on. Abortion too. Gay marriage. My fellow GOPers are obsessed with these issues. I can't count how many times I've heard guys in my party yell about "Social Security is a ponzi scheme." My reply? Go ask your parents about it.

      Great hub. Shared.

    • lovemychris profile image

      Leslie McCowen 

      3 years ago from Cape Cod, USA

      Yes, while we focus on president, Republicans have been taking over states.

      The result has been losing rights: women, voters, and unions.

      Re-writing schoolbooks to favor religious right wing view, etc.

      And the Republicans in Congress hold the guard on the top end: not letting anything get done ever, period.

      It's a shame people fall for the bs, such as in 2010: jobs, jobs, jobs. What we got was 231 new anti abortion regulations, the breaking down of unions, and voting restrictions.

      It's a scam they've been perpetrating since Roe v Wade was deemed a constitutional right; "don't mention it while you're running, once you get elected, we'll lay the hammer down"

      Nice hub.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Well, of American voters ( Republicans) don't vote out all the promise breakers who were sent to DC in 2014, this all world be left fantastic sanario. But most true conservatives are sickened by the lack of representation we've received with the group sent to / or elected to the promise of conservative values to be implemented when the NEW congressmen arrived on the hill. Seemingly, they just fell in suit with the Obama administration on giving him whatever he wanted.


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