First, despite the rise of the Tea Party, the overall primary electorate is majority "somewhat conservative" to "moderate" in ideology. In 2012, according to exit polling, 34 percent of the GOP electorate defined itself as "very conservative", while the other 57 percent defined themselves as either "somewhat conservative" (33 percent), or "moderate," (24 percent). This obviously fluctuates state by state with almost half of Iowa caucuses goers defining themselves as very conservative and 35 percent of New Hampshire Republicans identifying themselves as moderate. Even so, taken as a whole, the GOP electorate is not as ideologically aligned to the far right some make it out to be.
Then there's that fact that in a field as crowded as this one, it's hard to believe that any candidate is going to get the "very conservative" space to him/her self. In 2012, Mitt Romney was the obvious establishment candidate. The three anti-establishment candidates (Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul), split up that very conservative vote. Santorum took the lions' share with 36 percent, but Gingrich took another 26 percent and Paul siphoned off 7 percent. Meanwhile, Romney took almost half (46 percent) of the somewhat conservative and 48 percent of the moderate vote. In 2016, Ted Cruz, who is clearly gunning to be the face of the conservative wing of the party, will face a crowded field of candidates for that space including Rand Paul, Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Conservatives Coalesce Around a Consensus Candidate?
At The Cook Political Report, Amy Walter explains why it will be tough for conservatives to coalesce around a consensus candidate: