Not Your Father’s Republican Party

  • Share
  • Read Later

****WARNING LABEL: To our many commenters who complain whenever we post anything on this blog about a poll, move along, folks, nothing to see here.****

I am stuck in the third circle of weather-related airline hell at O’Hare, which looks like a refugee camp this afternoon. As a result, I had to experience this morning’s GOP debate vicariously through Ana’s liveblog, but did come across this over at the Daily Dish. Bruce there discovers a very interesting survey (.pdf)* by GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio that puts numbers to what has been happening within the Republican Party over the past decade. Among the interesting shifts that Bruce notes:

– The party is more conservative; that is more Republicans identify themselves as conservatives. And the increase is dramatic. In 1997, 55 percent of Republicans called themselves conservative; today 71 percent describe themselves that way. Those calling themselves liberal have fallen from 11 percent to 4 percent, and self-described moderates have fallen from 31 percent to 21 percent.

– In 1997, about half of Republicans said their main concerns were social/cultural and half were mainly concerned with economics, about half being “supply siders” and half being “deficit hawks.” Today, only 16 percent of Republicans are primarily concerned with economic issues. About half are still mainly concerned with social/cultural issues, but now more than a quarter of Republicans are primarily concerned with defense and foreign policy. Of this group, the bulk are strong hawks that support the war in Iraq without reservation.

What’s interesting with regard to 2008 is that Fabrizio divides today’s party into seven segments that he calls Bush Hawks (at 20%, the largest group) (*Thanks, commenter J-LA), Dennis Miller Republicans, Government Knows Best Republicans, Moralists (at 24%, the largest group), Free Marketeers, Heartland Republicans and Fortress America. He shows Giuliani leading among all these groups, but with a far larger share among Heartland Republicans and Free Marketeers (38%) than among Dennis Miller Republicans (25%) and Moralists (21%). What’s more, Giuliani’s lead is far from secure. Giving us even more evidence of the fluidity of the race, Fabrizio finds that three quarters of Republicans say they haven’t settled on their choice of candidate, and could still change their minds.

All of which suggests I’m not the only one dealing with bumpy weather these days.

UPDATE: I probably should leave it to Fabrizio to explain his own terminology, but given the challenges of his definition of “Heartland Republicans” by commenters Jim and Arch Stanton, I would hazard to suggest that what he means are economically oriented, moderate Republicans; he notes they are more likely to be lifelong GOP members, and finds them mostly in the Midwest. Some people have called them “Main Street Republicans,” and they used to dominate Republican politics in places like Michigan, though they are no longer the force they once were. In describing their churchgoing habits as “less frequent,” I am assuming he is comparing them not with the population at large, but with the “Moralists,” who he says are mostly evangelical and go to church “at least” weekly. Tony, are you out there? Can you help us with this?