Yesterday, Marc Ambinder reported about a poll taken by Fabrizio McLaughlin. Liz Mair had some of the top-line numbers. The Hill and the Boston Globe wrote a little about it, but frankly, I think that they missed the real stories in here. I got my hands on the presentation, and I thought I would write a little about it. It shows some very striking things about the GOP. So, some conclusions.

First, the GOP is getting older. Somewhat dramatically older. This is not good news. We already know that we are struggling with younger voters. These results, at the right, confirm this and point out just how old our base is shifting. This probably represents several things including, aging of the people involved in the conservative backlash to the 60s, losing the younger generation due to the war, and the dying, frankly, of the New Dealers. It also suggests that it could become increasingly difficult for the GOP to enact real entitlement reform. Related to this last point, on of the points that the MSM did notice is that 51% supported some sort of universal health care. (the specific form was not clearly defined). In addition, this found that the GOP was split 52%-44% on private accounts in social security, with the 52% for. Hardly a base to advance from on an issue that is unlikely to split Democrats.

Second, to Republicans, terrorism was seen as the unifying issue, not taxes or small government. 36% thought that terrorism or Iraq were "the issue that best defines the Republican party today." Next was immigration at 9%, abortion at 8%, national defense and taxes at 7% each, and the economy at 6%. That’s a pretty steep drop. It is also interesting that only 13% identify economic issues.

And that leads to the third observation. Whereas in 1997, somewhere between 45 and 53% of the base was understood by Fabrizio as economic conservatives or driven by economic concerns, that has fallen to 16% divided equally into two groups, "Free Marketers" and "Heartland Republicans," which loosely maps onto a group that is highly suspicious of government and a group that is much less suspicious of government. (one is more worried about tax rates, the other about deficits. One is very enthusiastic about strong entitlement reforms, the other is very supportive of the current social security model and universal healthcare)

Debates in the party are often framed as economic conservatives versus social conservatives. This poll identifies about 25% as "Moralists", who would be clearly identified as social conservatives. However, with only 16% of the base being primarily economic conservatives, this seems like an overly simplistic perspective. Another 59% of self-identifying Republicans are left including 28% between varieties of defense conservatives, about 13% split between people like soccer moms and retirees, and 14% for a group that would be stereotypically gun-owning men suspicious of government and immigrants. ("Dennis Miller" Republicans, but perhaps somewhat Buchananite?)

I suspect that these various subgroups vote at different rates in primaries, so you probably cannot take this as a map of the primary electorate.

In addition, Rudy Giuliani leads in this poll with 30% and among every subgroup. McCain is second in 4 of the 7 subgroups, while Fred Thompson is second in the remainder. (this poll was taken before the main dust-up on immigration, so take with salt)

All in all this is interesting and a little scary, I think. Polls have indicated that the GOP is no longer viewed as the fiscally conservative party. Whatever underlying phenomenon that it, this might be represented by the fact that only 16% are driven by economic issues. It seems to me that the party needs to work very hard on re-establishing its credibility on these issues.



» links for 2007-06-29 » MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy · June 29, 2007 at 7:28 AM

[…] » Elephant in the mirror Analyzing a poll, with an eye on the GOP’s future. (tags: polls demographics gop Republicans) […]

Patrick Ruffini :: links for 2007-06-29 · June 29, 2007 at 8:24 AM

[…] » Elephant in the mirror (tags: polls demographics gop) […]

Ft. Hard Knox · June 29, 2007 at 10:31 AM

[…] » Elephant in the mirror Are you a “Dennis Miller” Republican, or more of a “Buchananite”? (tags: polls demographics gop Republicans) [?] Share This […] » Blog Archive » Rockefeller Republicans · June 30, 2007 at 3:57 PM

[…] A new survey by Fabrizio McLaughlin validates these fears with several lumps of coal for both fiscal AND social conservatives. Those of us who fall into one category but not the other, such as yours truly, can take this as an opportunity to share a moment of gloom and doom with one another. First, for my fellow fi-cons, Soren Dayton has the bad news. To sum up: […]

Multi Medium » Dem-O-Graphics · July 1, 2007 at 11:24 AM

[…] Item 2: The Republicans are getting older, and the small-government, anti-tax wing is shrinking fast. (On the other hand, conservatives who want authoritarian government for social and/or terror reasons appear to be on the rise…) […] » Rudy versus Thompson: Two options for the party · July 25, 2007 at 10:54 AM

[…] Rudy Giuliani appeals to certain kinds of swing voters, for example many kinds of Reagan Democrats with toughness, soccer/security moms with security and social moderation/tolerance/liberalism, etc. In some ways, in a Republican Party whose base is increasingly focused on security, Rudy Giuliani is a natural candidate of that new part of the coalition. And he is seen as "electable." And, as one Member of Congress who is leaning towards Giuliani put it the other day, "They guy was #3 in the Reagan Justice Department. How much of a squish could be really be?" In some sense, one could argue that Rudy is a transformational candidate for the party. […] » What’s a movement? Do we have one? · August 8, 2007 at 9:25 AM

[…] New pro-war voters. Recall from the Elephant in the Mirror that 1/4 of the base is now basically pro-war voters. This would be a clear base for a Rudy Giuliani or John McCain nomination. (in the case of Giuliani, that is a base that could, perhaps, overcome his potential losses, in a primary at least, amongst social conservatives, another important part of the base. More on this later) While this is probably not a complete answer, as long as there is a war on terror — and perhaps diffuse security threats in the context of globalization and various clashes against modernity — this will probably be part of the answer. […] » Huckabee attacks Romney and “Wall Street” · August 16, 2007 at 8:58 AM

[…] I would note, however, that there are fewer economic conservatives in the party than there used to be. […]

Time is on our side « DelawareLiberal.Net · September 12, 2007 at 4:12 PM

[…] 12, 2007 Time is on our side Posted by jason330 under Uncategorized  I don’t know why I sweat the politics thing somuch. It looks like Republicans are mostly* going to die off as a species over the next twenty years. The GOP is getting older. Somewhat dramatically older. This is not good news. (sic) We already know that we are struggling with younger voters. […]

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