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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Party Composition, Party Positions

Gallup reports:

Eighty-nine percent of rank-and-file Republicans are non-Hispanic whites, leaving just 5% who are Hispanic (of any race), 2% who are black, and 4% of other races.
Further, by well over a 2-to-1 ratio, whites who identify as Republicans claim a conservative, rather than a moderate or liberal, ideology (or have no opinion when asked about their ideology).Democrats have a significantly more diverse party composition. Well over a third (36%) of Democrats are nonwhite (Hispanic, or black or some other race) and the 64% of Democrats who are white are strongly skewed -- by more than a 4-to-1 ratio -- toward an ideological position that is moderate or liberal rather than conservative.

The overall pattern is no surprise. African American and Hispanic voters have favored Democrats for many years. But the data do raise the question of how Republicans can get more votes. That is, having cornered the market on conservative and religious whites, how can they appeal to others? Michael Barone explains that "moving to the center" is not a cure-all, since opinions do not exist on a simple left-right spectrum but instead have multiple dimensions.

So I think Republicans today should be less interested in moving toward the center and more interested in running against the center. Here I mean a different "center" -- not a midpoint on an opinion spectrum, but rather the centralized government institutions being created and strengthened every day. This is a center that is taking over functions fulfilled in a decentralized way by private individuals, firms and markets.

In that light, it may be instructive to read survey results from Rasmussen:

Only 21% of voters nationwide support a plan for the government to bail out General Motors as part of a structured bankruptcy plan to keep the troubled auto giant in business. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 67% are opposed to a plan that would provide GM with $50 billion in funding and give the government a 70% ownership interest in the company.

Rasmussen's methodology has come in for criticism, but these data are consistent with earlier Gallup polling.