Republicans Have Lost Their 60-Year Advantage on National Security


I’ll probably end up doing a bunch of random post-election reaction stuff today, so let’s start with Dan Drezner:

A glance at the exit polls showed that Obama won the foreign policy question pretty handily. Only five percent of respondents thought that foreign policy was the most critical issue in this campaign — but of those five percent, voters went for Obama over Romney by 56% to 33%. Voters were also more likely to trust Barack Obama in an international crisis (57%-42%) than Mitt Romney (50%-46%).

This is the first exit poll in at least three decades where the Democrat has outperformed the Republican on foreign policy and national security. And I guarantee that whoever runs from the GOP side in 2016 will not have a ton of foreign policy experience. The GOP has managed to squander an advantage in perceived foreign policy competency that it had owned for decades. This — combined with shifts on social issues and demographics — will be a problem that the Republicans are going to need to address.

Thanks, George Bush! We like to say that Americans have short memories, and that’s true in a way. On the other hand, a majority of voters still blame Bush for the lousy economy more than they blame Obama, and the Bush destruction of the Republican brand on foreign policy still seems to be going strong too.

A razor-thin loss hardly means that the Republican brand is doomed, but I don’t think there’s much question that the GOP, in general, is moving in the wrong direction and its extremist wing is finally catching up to it. In four years, they’ll likely face both a growing economy and an electorate that’s a couple of points browner than it is today, and that’s going to be a strong headwind. Add to that growing tolerance for things like gay marriage and a Democratic advantage (or tie) on national security issues, and they face a pretty tough future.

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