Election night in 2023 once again delivered disappointment for Republicans, reinforcing a disturbing pattern that has emerged since 2018. Despite their earlier optimism, Republicans underperformed in races that drew significant national attention, indicating that the GOP has transitioned from a winning coalition to a losing one.
One glaring issue has been the disparity in campaign expenditures, with working-class voters contributing smaller amounts compared to more affluent donors. This wouldn’t pose a problem if Republican turnout remained robust. However, as Democrats have coalesced a new coalition composed of predominantly college-educated and female voters, they have harnessed both enthusiastic partisans and meticulous planners who turn out in large numbers. In contrast, Republican turnout has lagged behind.
The enthusiasm gap, marked by Democrats’ ability to mobilize their supporters effectively, has fueled their turnout relative to the pre-2018 off-year election baseline. Meanwhile, Republican turnout has struggled to keep pace with this rising tide.
The problems facing the GOP extend beyond enthusiasm and demographics. The leadership of the Republican National Committee, under Ronna McDaniel, has come under scrutiny for its handling of the movement. Additionally, over a year after the Supreme Court returned the abortion issue to the states, Republicans have yet to formulate a compelling message that upholds the pro-life stance while avoiding alienating women and suburban voters.
These recurring disappointments highlight the structural fragility of the Republican Party’s evolving coalition, demanding a reevaluation of its approach moving forward.