The GOP today is a tale of two parties. One of them, the gubernatorial wing, is growing and successful. The other, the federal wing, is increasingly marginalizing itself, and unless changes are made, it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win another presidential election in the near future.The problem for the GOP, is that its "growing" gubernatorial wing was entirely the result of the 2010 mid-term elections, elections that even Republicans admit were flukes. That was a base election, and Democrats didn't turn out.
In 2012, Democrats did lose the North Carolina governorship, but they retained their hold in open seats in (red) Montana, New Hampshire, and Washington, while red-state incumbents in West Virginia and Missouri held on easily. For what it's worth, Democrats knocked off the Republican incumbent in Puerto Rico, and came within three points of picking up the Indiana governorship—a race no one thought was even competitive, in a state Mitt Romney won by 10 points. None of this evidence of a resurgent Republican gubernatorial wing.
And 2014 is shaping up poorly for the GOP. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is toast, stuck in the mid 30s against far more popular Democratic opponents. Florida Gov. Rick Scott is talking about spending $100 million to retain his seat, which he'll desperately need considering he's stuck in the high-30s, low 40s against his potential opponents.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's approval ratings are in the 30s. So is Kansas' Gov. Sam Brownback, though he has the benefit of governing Kansas which will likely save his butt. Same with Georgia's Nathan Deal, stuck in the 30s, but bailed out by his state's Red-bent.
Wisconsin's Scott Walker trails Russ Feingold narrowly. And while he holds narrow leads against other potential Democrats, he's above 50 percent against none of them. The only way that Maine's Paul LePage holds on is with another three-way split race, like the one that allowed him to sneak in with 38 percent of the vote in 2010. And perhaps not even then.
Republicans have better news in New Jersey Nevada, and Iowa, states in which their incumbents are leading comfortably at the moment. In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich has recovered from his early-term follies and has decent leads over potential challengers (though still in the mid-40s, a ways from the magical 50 percent mark).
Ultimately, of the Class of 2010 governors, 21 are Republican and just six are Democrats. That balance will be significantly changed after next November. And while there may be little national relevance to Republicans holding their seats in places like Idaho and Oklahoma or even Texas, losses in Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin will have clear implications for the 2016 presidential election.
And regardless, that RNC autopsy report will be in drastic need of a rewrite.