John introduced this subject a few items below, and it deserves not just a hopeful “NO!” in response, but additional analysis. The Washington Post yesterday put together a nice little scoreboard of Democratic losses during the Obama years (displayed below), and it is stunning to realize how disastrous Obama has been for Democrats not named Obama.
Obama has seen the worst party erosion ever, more than Republicans during the Watergate disaster. The other notable party wipeout occurred under Eisenhower, and this comparison deserves a little more thought. The Democratic surge under Eisenhower reflects the still rising tide of the New Deal coalition, which Michael Barone argues was actually stronger politically in the late 1950s than earlier. In fact Michael has argued that the high water mark for New Deal liberal Democrats (as opposed to southern moderate and conservative Democrats filling out the ranks) was the 1958 election. Republicans, meanwhile, were still trying to find their way in the new world of the New Deal coalition; keep in mind that for all of his virtues, on domestic policy Eisenhower was really a “me, too” Republican.
The point is, the Democratic strength banked in the 1950s paid lasting electoral dividends well into the 1970s. Democrats were able to hold off political oblivion as their policy failures mounted in the 1960s and 1970s because of the deep bench they had built. The reverse is now likely going to be the case for Republicans, even allowing for some demographic challenges posed by growing Democratic-leaning groups.
The WaPo’s Chris Cilizza comments:
It’s downballot (way downballot) where the depth of the Republican victories over the past three elections truly reveal themselves — and where the impact will be felt over the long term.