News Analysis: The GOP's Factionalization Problem
Updated: Feb 10, 2021
Anchor Staff Writer
The Republican party has a major problem that could affect the party’s future. That problem is factionalization. In recent years, the party has, for the most part, moved closer to President Trump, embracing his policies and rhetoric no matter what. However, there are some instances where certain Republicans are taking a step away from embracing Trumpism and what experts call the new Republican party.
The political ramifications are potentially very damaging for the party and could hurt their chances of ever winning a national election again. Primary elections have always been about who can outdo each other and push that party’s agenda forward and win the general election. Once that shifts to just who is more pro-Trump than the other candidate, then the result is what happened in Kansas’s 2018 Gubernatorial election cycle. Some politicians decide to retire and try to enjoy their life after political office. U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) retired earlier than expected to avoid the political shifts.
The pattern isn’t something new, it has been going on even before President Trump when the Tea Party era of Republicans made big gains in elections throughout the country in Republican wave years like 2010 and 2014. Those Republicans like Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) spawned from a period where the party shifted further right after President Obama had first been elected President back in 2008. That trend then gave Republicans like President Trump a bigger voice, and that shift also created a different coalition of voters the Republican party prioritizes when it comes to policies and ground game.
Embracing Trumpism has now resulted in the party not controlling the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate or even the Presidency. States like Georgia and Arizona that have been historically Republican are now purple/light blue states. It is nothing new and not the first time it has happened to a major political party. The Democratic party has just gone through something similar with a rise in more progressive Democrats getting elected like Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, but they already had advantages in terms of money, appeal, media and even shifting demographics. The factionalization in this context only hurts the Republicans who are choosing to embrace Trump more since they already struggle with gaining ground politically in a changing country that’s electorate is becoming younger and more diverse.
The GOP may be able to turn things around; however, the trends and current political climate are not on their side. Some elected officials like Governor Larry Hogan (R-MD) and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley (R-SC) are trying to step up to the plate and become the “new voice” for the party. These voices could win back Congress in 2022, and maybe even the Presidency in 2024. More moderate Republicans argue that it all depends on if President Trump doesn’t run again in 2024 and if the rumored Patriot Party doesn’t come to be.
Overall, the political ramifications of this increased factionalization do not appear to be in their favor. The GOP faces a crucial point in time that could go either way and how they choose to react to the problem of factionalization could make or break the party’s future.