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The Blue & Gray Press | October 22, 2017

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The changing political landscape in Congress

The changing political landscape in Congress

By TESS OSMER 

In 2012 the GOP released “The Growth and Opportunity Report,” in which the Republican Party noted its goals for the future of the party. “The GOP today is a tale of two parties,” it reads, “the gubernatorial wing,” which is “growing and successful” and the other, “the federal wing,” which is “increasingly marginalizing itself…”

Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. For example, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia and Florida are increasingly voting Democratic.

When Obama won the presidency in 2012 Republicans had their majority in the House, but did not work together well with the Democratic Senate. Now, with the reality of a Clinton presidency approaching, will Republicans keep the House? What does the future of the Republican Party look like?

Dr. Rosalyn Cooperman, professor of American Politics at the University of Mary Washington, talked to a member of The Blue & Gray Press about the future of Congress and the Republican Party as it’s been a tumultuous year.

“The party needs to update its message and improve its outreach,” Cooperman said, “[Republicans] need to change the message toward women, especially college educated women.”

In fact, the Brookings Institute reported that Clinton held support from 57 percent of college-age women while Trump only held 38 percent. Consequently, it seems that Donald Trump has taken the Opportunity Report and said, “How do we not do any of this?”

While Dr. Cooperman admits, “Donald Trump will lose the White House by a significant amount,” she believes the House will stay majority Republican.

In fact, there is even more of a focus on down-ballot candidates as Republicans who strongly disagree with Trump look to other political leaders for survival.

Barbara Comstock, for instance, as Cooperman pointed out, “has tried to put daylight between herself and Trump.”

“The Republican party does not want to identify as the party of Donald Trump,” Cooperman concluded.

In contrast, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns of the New York Times make a case for the possibility of a Democratic majority in the House. In an interview with Neil Newhouse, a Republican pollster, Martin and Burns found that the future of the Republican Party may be at stake.

“Two weeks ago I would have said Republicans would hold control of the Senate,” Newhouse said, “but there’s just so many seats up and nobody is getting separation.” Republicans are at a standstill.

Senator Kelly Ayotte, the Republican up for re-election in New Hampshire, could not make up her mind, as she publicly stated, “Mr. Trump would represent a good role model for children,” only to recant a few hours later.

As voting day looms, Martin and Burns reported, officials in both parties see Republican incumbents in Wisconsin and Illinois as likely to lose, therefore, Democrats would need just two more pickups to capture the majority if they retain the rest of their seats.

Though the likelihood of Congress flipping majority Democratic is debatable, the political landscape of the United States is changing. Though prominent Republican figureheads such as Speaker Paul Ryan claim they will support Trump, they have publicly shown hesitancy and made movements to distance themselves from his candidacy.

2016, therefore marks the plea for a third party system. Candidates such as Gary Johnson, Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders garnered support with much more intensity than that of Clinton or Trump.