2015 Trends: The Death of Brand Loyalty in Politics


At least since 2006, when the Republicans lost control of Congress, the end of the GOP has been a staple of the political predictions market. The party of old white men and their blue-haired spouses had nowhere to go but six feet under. There's more than a little truth to this, as forward-looking Republicans such as Rand Paul fully acknowledge. Last fall, the Kentucky senator said the party's brand "sucks" and likened it to Domino's pizza, which can never be confused with a compliment. I've poured a whisky or two on the GOP's grave, too, arguing that unless the party embraces its inner libertarian, it will go the way of its fathers' Oldsmobiles.

All true, except for one very important thing: The Democratic Party also sucks. If Republicans are Domino's, then the Dems are Pizza Hut or Papa John's or CiCi's. As Matt Welch and I hammered home in The Declaration of Independents, brand loyalty is deader than Jacob Marley in all aspects of American life. Politics is no exception, with millennials pointedly less partisan than their parents, and their parents markedly less partisan than their parents.

In a column for Time, I discuss why the trend toward less party loyalty will continue in 2015 and beyond. I also lay out four other trends to watch in the coming year(s). Here's part of the section on politicial affiliation:

It seems like only yesterday that everyone agreed the GOP was finished because it had no way of appealing to younger voters and minorities, who would always and everywhere vote Democratic. "For Republicans, Just Doing the Math is Frightening," read one typical story's headline.

All it took to dispel that truism was a few years with Democrats calling the shots and reneging on implicit and explicit promises to safeguard civil liberties, not invade random countries, or screw up the economy more than the GOP under George W. Bush. Now the question is "Are Democrats Losing the Youth Vote?" The short answer is that while younger voters aren't exactly giving bear hugs to Republicans, they have cooled considerably on Democrats over the past several elections. Latinos voted two-to-one f#mce_temp_url#or Democrats but also "shifted Republican in key races."

Although the Republicans won the midterms in a landslide—taking the Senate, increasing its lead in the House of Representatives, andcontrolling more seats at the state level than ever—there's every reason to believe that all it will take to see another shift is a couple of years of Mitch McConnell and John Boehner in power.

Which is the point: Brand loyalty is dead in most consumer products—does anyone still come from a Chevrolet or Ford or even Mercedes family?—and it's shot in politics too. Trust in government and politics, which is at historically low levels, has led to rapid swings in control of Congress and shrinking affiliation with either the Democrats or Republicans.

Read "5 Earth-Shattering Trends to Follow in 2015—and Beyond!"