After almost every election, you hear that the winning party is on the verge of consolidating a long-term domination of the system. This is particularly true following the reelection of a sitting president. After Bush’s victory in 2004 many on the right gloated that an era of permanent Republican dominance was upon us. Now we’re hearing the same triumphalism from the Democrats.
But this rarely happens. Parties like to win, and after successive electoral defeats, they will make whatever changes are necessary to keep themselves competitive. Only one month after the election, we’re already seeing this in action. Rising GOP star Marco Rubio has been making the rounds in Washington, delivering a message that connects where Romney failed. As the Washington Post reports:
Rubio’s appeal is not only aimed at those in the middle class, but those aspiring to be in the middle class.
“One of the fundamental promises of America is the opportunity to make it to the middle class,” Rubio said in the speech on Tuesday. “But today there is a growing opportunity gap developing.” And, in re-telling the story of his parents — who immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba — Rubio referenced how they were able to “make it into the middle class.”
Speaking to those who aspire to the middle class but aren’t there yet has more political potential if Rubio can succeed. Obama took 60 percent in November among those earning under $50,000. And that economic category made up 41 percent of all voters — far larger than those earning between $50,000-$100,000 (31 percent) and those making more than $100,000 (28 percent).
That Marco Rubio, a young, Hispanic senator whose message is pitched to middle-class and aspiring middle-class voters, has emerged as a prominent force in the party shows that the process of rebranding and renewal is still at work in the GOP.
It’s still too early to say where and how the GOP will move, but in America power tends to flow to those able to surf the waves of public opinion. The Republican Party hasn’t lost the ability to do this, and it will survive this loss.