America to the GOP: ‘We need to break up’


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

"Baby, we need to talk. This relationship is unhealthy. We need to break up. It's not me baby, it's YOU — you're freakin' scary nuts!"

And so America's dysfunctional relationship with the GOP comes to an end according to a new Pew Research poll. Andrew Kohut from Pew Research writes, The numbers prove it: The Republican Party is estranged from America:

In my decades of polling, I recall only one moment when a party had been driven as far from the center as the Republican Party has been today.

The outsize influence of hard-line elements in the party base is doing to the GOP what supporters of Gene McCarthy and George McGovern did to the Democratic Party in the late 1960s and early 1970s — radicalizing its image and standing in the way of its revitalization.

While there are no catchy phrases for the Republicans of 2013, their image problems are readily apparent in national polls. The GOP has come to be seen as the more extreme party, the side unwilling to compromise or negotiate seriously to tackle the economic turmoil that challenges the nation.

It is no surprise that even elements of the Republican leadership that had been so confident of a Mitt Romney victory — including when it was clear that he was going to lose the election — are now looking at ways to find more electable candidates and cope with the disproportionate influence of hard-liners in the GOP. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus only scratched the surface this past week when he dissected the party’s November defeat: “There’s no one reason we lost. Our message was weak; our ground game was insufficient; we weren’t inclusive; we were behind in both data and digital; and our primary and debate process needed improvement. So there’s no one solution. There’s a long list of them.”

A long list, but one that doesn’t address the emergence of a staunch conservative bloc that has undermined the GOP’s national image.

The Republican Party’s ratings now stand at a 20-year low, with just 33 percent of the public holding a favorable view of the party and 58 percent judging it unfavorably, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. Although the Democrats are better regarded (47 percent favorable and 46 percent unfavorable), the GOP’s problems are its own, not a mirror image of renewed Democratic strength.

Americans’ values and beliefs are more divided along partisan lines than at any time in the past 25 years. The values gap between Republicans and Democrats is now greater than the one between men and women, young and old, or any racial or class divides.

But while members of the Republican and Democratic parties have become more conservative and liberal, respectively, a bloc of doctrinaire, across-the-board conservatives has become a dominant force on the right. Indeed, their resolve and ultra-conservatism have protected Republican lawmakers from the broader voter backlash that is so apparent in opinion polls.

For decades, my colleagues and I have examined the competing forces and coalitions within the two parties. In our most recent national assessments, we found not only that the percentage of people self-identifying as Republicans had hit historic lows but that within that smaller base, the traditional divides between pro-business economic conservatives and social conservatives had narrowed. There was less diversity of values within the GOP than at any time in the past quarter-century.

The party’s base is increasingly dominated by a highly energized bloc of voters with extremely conservative positions on nearly all issues: the size and role of government, foreign policy, social issues, and moral concerns. They stand with the tea party on taxes and spending and with Christian conservatives on key social questions, such as abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

These staunch conservatives, who emerged with great force in the Obama era, represent 45 percent of the Republican base. According to our 2011 survey, they are demographically and politically distinct from the national electorate. Ninety-two percent are white. They tend to be male, married, Protestant, well off and at least 50 years old.

Knowing how this slice of the electorate came together is key to understanding why GOP lawmakers have been able to withstand the public backlash seen in polls — and why the party will face great difficulty in reinventing itself.

According to our polling, three factors stand out in the emergence of the GOP’s staunch conservative bloc: ideological resistance to President Obama’s policies, discomfort with the changing face of America and the influence of conservative media.

* * *

The nation’s demographic and social shifts have also played a role in galvanizing the new bloc. Conservative Republicans are more likely (33 percent) than the public at large (22 percent) to see the growing number of Latinos in America as a change for the worse. Similarly, 46 percent of conservatives see increasing rates of interracial marriage as a positive development, compared with 66 percent of the public overall.

During Obama’s first term, ethnocentric attitudes — on immigration, equal rights and interracial dating — grew by 11 percentage points among conservative Republicans but did not increase significantly among any other political or ideological grouping. Some academic surveys found similar partisan polarization on racial measures over the course of Obama’s first term.

Race has loomed larger in voting behavior in the Obama era than at any point in the recent past. The 2010 election was the high mark of “white flight” from the Democratic Party, as National Journal’s Ron Brownstein called it — the GOP won a record 60 percent of white votes, up from 51 percent four years earlier.

To the conservative base, Obama, as an African American in the White House, may be a symbol of how America has changed. Unease with him sets conservative Republicans apart from other voting blocs — including moderate Republicans, who have hardly been fans of the president. For example, a fall 2011 national survey found 63 percent of conservative Republicans reporting that Obama made them angry, compared with 29 percent of the public overall and 40 percent of moderate Republicans.

If a values backlash and racial-political polarization helped forge the staunch conservative bloc, the conservative media has reinforced it.

The politicization of news consumption is certainly not new; it’s been apparent in more than 20 years of data collected by the Pew Research Center. What is new is a bloc of voters who rely more on conservative media than on the general news media to comprehend the world. Pew found that 54 percent of staunch conservatives report that they regularly watch Fox News, compared with 44 percent who read a newspaper and 30 percent who watch network news regularly. Newspapers and/or television networks top all other news sources for other blocs of voters, both on the right and on the left. Neither CNN, NPR or the New York Times has an audience close to that size among other voting blocs.

Conservative Republicans make up as much as 50 percent of the audiences for Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’ Reilly. There is nothing like this on the left. MSNBC’s “Hardball” and “The Rachel Maddow Show” attract significantly fewer liberal Democrats.

I see little reason to believe that the staunch conservative bloc will wither away or splinter; it will remain a dominant force in the GOP and on the national stage. At the same time, however, I see no indication that its ideas about policy, governance and social issues will gain new adherents. They are far beyond the mainstream.

Any Republican efforts at reinvention face this dilemma: While staunch conservatives help keep GOP lawmakers in office, they also help keep the party out of the White House. Quite simply, the Republican Party has to appeal to a broader cross section of the electorate to succeed in presidential elections.

"To win, both parties must appeal to the mixed values of the electorate. But it will be very hard for the Republican Party, given the power of the staunch conservatives in its ranks."

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AZ BlueMeanie
The Blue Meanie is an Arizona citizen who wishes, for professional reasons, to remain anonymous when blogging about politics. Armed with a deep knowledge of the law, politics and public policy, as well as pen filled with all the colors stolen from Pepperland, the Blue Meanie’s mission is to pursue and prosecute the hypocrites, liars, and fools of politics and the media – which, in practical terms, is nearly all of them. Don’t even try to unmask him or he’ll seal you in a music-proof bubble and rendition you to Pepperland for a good face-stomping. Read blog posts by the infamous and prolific AZ Blue Meanie here.


  1. Wow where to start. The GOP is dysfunctional that is true. The Karl Rove types are trying to make the GOP into a Democrat light party with no real distinction. The tea party at least gives you an option to counter the democrat pro-debt, pro spend, pro-big government, pro-infanticide, pro-control everything party. It still is amazing to me that President Kennedy has more in common with the current GOP than the current DNC. That shows what party has been moving, the democrat has been moving further left and taking progressive GOP members with them. The conservatives are still where they always have been. Still have the only logical solution to restore the country to its former greatness. My prediction is that America does not have the will to pay her bills, and will dissolve into a third world nation in the next 30 years. The democrats are cheering it along unwilling to make the smallest of sacrifices, and playing politics all the way. It saddens me that no one on the left cares about the next generation. They will be taxed confiscatory rates for generations to pay for SSI, Medicare, and Obamacare of this generation, they will not receive any of those programs. What a greedy generation the boomers are.