GOP Establishment candidate Ed Gillespie lost the Virginia governor's race by nearly twice the margin that Trump lost the general election, showing that whether or not Virginia likes Trump, they really can't stand the same ol' Republican bullshit.
Perhaps the partisans have forgotten already, but you don't win elections by adhering to the same losing base. You have to either drive up the turnout of your existing base, or you have to convert people who voted for the other party last time. These are not kneejerk partisans you are converting, but the large chunk of independents.
Trump won the election by flipping Obama voters from high-population counties in states that have been blue for decades. These were largely white working-class, as well as the exceptions among college-educated suburban whites who aren't worthless yuppie parasites, and who don't want to see the working-class get flushed down the toilet.
According to exit polls, Gillespie did somewhat better than Trump among non-whites, but somewhat worse than Trump among whites -- and contrary to incessant propaganda, minorities are still in the minority in this country. Losing a small percent of a big number is worse than gaining a small percent of a small number.
Gillespie tanked relative to Trump among families with incomes of $50-100K, which is working and lower-middle class.
He did worse than Trump among Democrats, who are the largest group by party affiliation. He also did worse among liberals and moderates, although better among conservatives.
And although he did as well percentage-wise as Trump in the Appalachian west of the state, turnout was way down, giving the hill and mountain people less impact against the suburban Swamp dwellers in the north.
All this points to a failure to mobilize the Trump coalition -- the white working class, and anyone sympathetic to their plight (the shrinking pool of responsible steward elites).
According to post-election data, Trump won 10-15% of Bernie Sanders voters. See this analysis from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, as well as the American National Election Studies (web interface here). The ANES shows only 3% of Hillary primary voters going for Trump, and I couldn't easily find out what the CCES says -- but presumably small there too, given the Sanders-Trump voters not being Democrat partisans and not being big fans of Obama or identity politics.
If the GOP tries to convert the type of people who supported Hillary in the rigged primary, they will keep losing. They will do about 4 times better percentage-wise going after Bernie supporters, and since the popular vote was fairly even between Bernie and Hillary, the sheer numbers will be far greater as well.
Three of the Democrats who helped to sweep the VA House of Delegates were endorsed by the Bernie organization Our Revolution, in a state where Bernie lost the primary no less. So clearly the Bernie wing is energizing and turning out voters. Wouldn't it be nice if enough of those voters chose the Our Rev candidates for the House, but then the GOP candidate for Governor?
But -- who are we kidding? The Republican party is as likely to court Sanders supporters as Elizabeth Warren is to hold a pow-wow with Trump supporters.
Fully one year after the historic upset Trump victory, the GOP still refuses to re-align itself to be a populist rather than elitist party, or a nationalist rather than globalist party. So what if Gillespie spoke harshly about MS-13 and crime -- where was he saying that immigrants, legal and illegal, drive down wages for the working class, and drive up the cost of housing? Where was he saying that we need to pull our military out of most of the rest of the world and begin spending that money rebuilding America rather than rebuilding Afghanistan? Where was he saying that China and Mexico are eating our lunch on manufacturing vs. poverty-sustaining agriculture? ("All we send them is beef.")
He's a dyed-in-the-wool Republican corporate globalist sell-out traitor, so of course he's not going to go against the GOP orthodoxy on any of those issues, let alone all of them together like Trump did.
And on the populist issues, where was Gillespie saying that the government should pick up the tab so that poor people won't be "dying in the streets" because they can't afford a hospital bill? Or that we need to negotiate drug prices from Medicare D, and tell the drug companies who've "taken care of" our politicians to go suck it?
If you can't even muster the populism level of Eisenhower or Nixon, don't bother running. Stay home and just kill yourself.
Which is exactly what the Republican party is intent on doing -- riding out their terminal decline with as much phony honor as they can to numb the pain.
That goes for the would-be insurgents within the GOP, too -- if you're not going to say all the things Trump said during the campaign (re-jiggering NATO, Saudi Arabia is ripping us off, give the poor free healthcare, bring back manufacturing plants by the boatload), don't even bother running. Putting on a fig-leaf of wanting tougher "border security," even "a wall," is not going to cut it. Trump just got the ball rolling with toughness on immigration. It was a much broader theme of "America first" in every domain of society, from the military, to the economy, to the government itself.
If you're not for "America first" across the board -- what do you offer to weary independent voters? They will just choose the party of comfy stagnation rather than suicidal chaos.
Unlike most Trump voters, I was actually ecstatic last night that the GOP got clobbered all around the nation. They refuse to submit to the re-alignment, so they are officially a party not just without an electorate -- but actively hostile toward it. (See also George W. Bush insulting all Trump voters as racist bigots. We still need to send his ass over to the Arabian desert where he can get beheaded on video by his jihadist buddies.)
The more the GOP wastes, the more the New Second Party grows.