Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson write: Everywhere you look, in the year of Donald J. Trump, observers are talking about a national party realignment or a Republican death spiral. Our two-party system has not undergone a major realignment since the South became solidly Republican. There has not been a major-party demise since the Whigs collapsed on the eve of the Civil War.
Mr. Trump (or Ted Cruz) could very well lead the party to a decisive and divisive defeat. If it was catastrophic enough, it could lead to changes in party strategy. Yet predictions of a Republican crackup should be greeted with skepticism. While rumors of the death of the Republican Party have been common in recent presidential elections, they have proved again and again to be vastly exaggerated.
The gap between expectations and political realities reflects two mistakes: The first is to overestimate the centrality of presidential contests to our system of checks and balances.
The second is to misunderstand the recent Republican electoral successes — which rest less on effective governance than on attacking government, and especially the occupant of the Oval Office. [Continue reading…]