The Republicans Have an Opening to Challenge Democratic Control in the Cities
The prevailing assumption was that Democratic strength in the inner cities and the growing Latino vote would complicate elections for the GOP for the foreseeable future. However, 2020 showed that there is an opening for the Republicans in the inner city to exploit. Combined with rock-solid rural vote for Republicans, this would flip the script on the Democrats. Simply stated, people in the cities themselves are fed up with the anarchy and lawlessness that are being fed by Democratic mayors and their cowardice. The Republican message of law and order may resonate with urban voters who are tired of seeing their communities in flames.
Trump Improved in the Cities in 2020 over 2016
Believe it or not, President Trump's share of the vote in the urban areas actually went up in 2020. This is after all the baseless accusations of racism and forecasts that the inner cities would turn out in droves to vote for Democrats. Notwithstanding the questionable voting patterns in the cities that are the subject of many lawsuits, the President's results actually improved over 2020. Early estimates have the President capturing over 18% of the vote in Philadelphia County, which would improve on his already stronger showing against Hillary Clinton.
In fact, the "Defund the Police" movement threatens to hurt the Democrats with their core constituencies. The truth is that many people in cities are dependent on the protection that they receive from the police and do not want to see any reduction in police forces. The Democrats have given the GOP an opening to make further inroads in the cities. Between the focus on safety and the opportunity zones that President Trump created, there is plenty for urban voters to latch onto when deciding to support the GOP.
The question is what the GOP will do with this opening that President Trump created when he transformed the Republican Party. Old-school Republican politics did not have as much of an appeal to voters in the city. However, now that the GOP is oriented to a message of safety and economic opportunity, city voters are starting to see how the Republican Party is devoted to helping them as opposed to taking their vote for granted.
Republicans Can Fill the Leadership Void During the Current Urban Crisis
Right now, American cities are in crisis, and there is a leadership vacuum. Democrats are either refusing to lead or have resulted to the same stale and outdated ideas. This has not met the challenges of the time in any way. As a result, dangerous and radical ideas end up filling the void. This is where the Republicans need to act and propose bold policies that show how they will fix the cities.
If Donald Trump does end up leaving the White House, he will still not be far from the Republican Party's consciousness. He will still be front and center, and he will continue the party's outreach to the cities. The Republicans will have a unique opportunity in 2020 to propose another governing vision that will stand in stark contrast to the rot and decay that has taken hold under the Democrats.
If the Republicans can maintain and build on this progress, they can regain and remain in power for a long time. While many have accused Trump of a strategy of only playing to his base, the truth is that there is a Trump Coalition, and part of it is an increase in the GOP's share of the urban vote. The Republicans would be wise to try to hold this coalition together in the future and not forget the parts of the party's agenda that have been attractive to urban voters.
With the Republicans more competitive in the cities, there will be fewer "bastions" that could submit elevated vote counts for the Democrats in the future. The assumption has always been that the Democrats will somehow find the votes in the cities to win statewide elections late. However, some assumptions may be shattered in the future as core Democratic voters come to recognize that it is actually the Republican Party that has the solutions that can help their daily lives.
Going back to the politics of old before Trump came on the scene would undo much of this progress. Thus, it is vital for the Republican Party to closely analyze the 2020 results and look to build on this success in the 2022 midterms.
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