Republicans have now lost 40 House seats, and were destroyed in suburban districts across the country, but they have no plans to change a thing. It's not like they can however, as they're all aboard the Trump train, heading for a cliff, and there's nothing they could do to stop it.
With a brutal finality, the extent of the Republicans’ collapse in the House came into focus last week as more races slipped away from them and their losses neared 40 seats.
Yet nearly a month after the election, there has been little self-examination among Republicans about why a midterm that had seemed at least competitive became a rout.
President Trump has brushed aside questions about the loss of the chamber entirely, ridiculing losing incumbents by name, while continuing to demand Congress fund a border wall despite his party losing many of their most diverse districts. Unlike their Democratic counterparts, Republicans swiftly elevated their existing slate of leaders with little debate, signaling a continuation of their existing political strategy.
And neither Speaker Paul D. Ryan nor Representative Kevin McCarthy, the incoming minority leader, have stepped forward to confront why the party’s once-loyal base of suburban supporters abandoned it — and what can be done to win them back.
The quandary, some Republicans acknowledge, is that the party’s leaders are constrained from fully grappling with the damage Mr. Trump inflicted with those voters, because he remains popular with the party’s core supporters and with the conservatives who will dominate the caucus even more in the next Congress.
But now a cadre of G.O.P. lawmakers are speaking out and urging party officials to come to terms with why their 23-seat majority unraveled so spectacularly and Democrats gained the most seats they had since 1974.
“There has been close to no introspection in the G.O.P. conference and really no coming to grips with the shifting demographics that get to why we lost those seats,” said Representative Elise Stefanik, an upstate New York Republican who is planning to repurpose her political action committee to help Republican women win primaries in 2020. “I’m very frustrated and I know other members are frustrated.”
Ms. Stefanik said there had been “robust private conversations” but she urged Republicans to conduct a formal assessment of their midterm effort.
The G.O.P. response, or lack thereof, to the midterm backlash stands in stark contrast to the shake-ups and soul-searching that followed its loss of Congress in 2006 and consecutive presidential defeats in 2012.
House officials indicate that they will pursue an after-action report, but it is unclear how far it will go in diagnosing why they lost the popular vote by more raw votes than any time in history.
Many of the lawmakers who lost their races or did not run again say the party has a profound structural challenge that incumbents are unwilling to fully face: Mr. Trump’s deep toxicity among moderate voters, especially women.
With most of the Republicans who lost hailing from suburban seats, those who remaining represent red-hued districts where the president is still well-liked.
“Now the party is Trump,” said Representative Tom Rooney of Florida, who at 48 decided to retire, “so we follow his lead.”
Right off the cliff, into oblivion. The next two years will decide the fate of America, whether we finally decide to purge the country of Trumpism and the GOP, or head off the cliff with them.
Time to pick a side, folks.