It appears that the two facts that went in their favor in the past election, that Trump won 74 million votes, more than any other Republican in history, and that Republicans did not suffer major congressional losses, are enough to persuade party leaders that everything is just hunky-dory, even though Trump’s margin of defeat of seven million votes was two million larger than Mitt Romney’s in 2012. That loss triggered a huge post-mortem analysis as to what went wrong while this one is being ignored.
“Our president absolutely grew our party,” said Jennifer Carnahan, chair of the Minnesota Republican Party, noting the GOP’s down-ballot victories and explosive turnout with Trump on the ticket. “He totally advanced our party … I think that as Republicans, we just need to continue to remain on the course.”
It hardly matters that Trump couldn’t beat Biden in the Rust Belt. Or that Trump ceded the longtime Republican strongholds of Georgia and Arizona to Democrats and, in defeat, became the first incumbent president since 1992 to fail to win a second term.
“As far as I’m concerned, everything’s great,” said Stanley Grot, a district-level Republican Party chair in Michigan, a state Trump won four years ago but lost to Biden in November.
In one of the more surreal role reversals in modern post-presidential election history, the winning party nationally is poring over its congressional and legislative losses, while the party that lost the White House isn’t.
For Democrats licking their wounds, the optimism of Republicans can be disorienting. In Texas, where Democrats are conducting a postmortem on the party’s shortcomings in 2020, Gilberto Hinojosa, chair of the Texas Democratic Party, said the lack of a similar review by Republicans nationally is “just strange.”
However, Hinojosa could rationalize it: “But they didn’t lose,” he deadpanned. “I think that’s exactly why they’re not doing it. There is not a recognition that they lost, not just because they’re afraid of Donald Trump, which I think has a lot to do with it, but because they live in this fantasy world that whatever he says is gospel, and if he says it, it’s true.”
Hinojosa said, “It’s [Trump’s] electoral version of alternative facts.”
This is not to say that they will do nothing. While they think that Trumpism is just fine, what their efforts will be focused on is further disenfranchising voters. Although Trump got more votes than previous Republicans, Biden got a whole lot more too, with his numbers growing more than Trump’s. In the name of ‘election integrity’, we are going to see efforts in Republican-controlled states to eliminate or at least strongly restrict mail-in and early voting. It used to be that Republicans were the ones who were in favor of these methods because they used it more. But the pandemic resulted in much greater numbers of Democrat’s using it this time and this has alarmed Republicans.