It’s a word seldom heard since Karl Rove brandished it after the 2004 election. On the basis of an Electoral College win secured by the precarious margin of one state, an Ohio rife with voter suppression, “Bush’s brain”—is that a compliment to Rove?—proclaimed an era of Republican realignment. It was short-lived, rebuked in 2006 when Democrats recaptured the House and the Senate—and refuted in 2008, when Barack Obama swept to a commanding victory across an expanded range of battleground states. After a last gasp in the 2010 midterms, in a time of acute economic distress, Rove’s fantasy was demolished in 2012, when the GOP waged a backward-looking campaign directed to the American electorate of a decade and more ago—two white, too old, too rural, too Southern.
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