It’s Not Your Father’s Republican Party Anymore

By Alan Caruba

Christie Loves Obama
After superstorm Sandy hit, Gov Christie welcomed President Obama just before the 2012 elections and many Republicans were aghast at how cordial he was. They still are, blaming him in part for Obama’s reelection.
Alan Caruba
Column by Alan Caruba

New Jersey –-( I went out into the rain on Tuesday to vote in the special primary election for the candidates who will oppose one another in November to be New Jersey’s next U.S. Senator.

The election was occasioned by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, surely one of the most liberal senators to have ever represented the state.

I was the only one voting in the polling station around midday so it can be said that turnout was low to invisible. I had a nice chat with the election workers who found the idea of a Republican actually living in town something akin to discovering some rare species here.

In New Jersey I think it is safe to say that Gov. Christie will romp to reelection in November. The Democratic Party has put up a sacrificial candidate, Barbara Buono, who virtually no one knows is even running against him. New Jersey is a Democratic state, but the Governor has shown a capacity to attract votes from them. After superstorm Sandy hit, he welcomed President Obama just before the 2012 elections and many Republicans were aghast at how cordial he was.

They still are, blaming him in part for Obama’s reelection.

A recent Pew Research Center national survey, conducted July 17-21 among 1,480 adults, including 497 Republican and Republican-leaning voters, asked who they saw as the party’s emerging leadership. While Rep. Paul Ryan who ran for Vice President in the last election had the most positive image (65%) among GOP voters, Sen. Rand Paul (55%) and Sen. Marco Rubio (50%) ran a close second with Sen. Ted Cruz, most identified with the Tea Party, also did well.

By contrast, Chris Christie, drew “a more mixed reaction among the roughly three-quarters of Republicans who offered an opinion”; 47% viewed him favorably while 30% expressed an unfavorable impression. While Christie’s positions on gun control and the environment may earn Democrat votes should he run for President in 2016, they will cause many Republicans to just stay home if he is the party’s candidate. This is what happened to Mitt Romney as well.

Based on the Pew Center’s findings, it would appear that the Republican Party is rather sharply divided between its moderates and conservatives. It is fair to say that unless the party can come up with strong leaders with conservative views and programs to offer a way out of the nation’s current economic stagnation and related problems, it is going to have an uphill struggle to get its candidates elected in 2014 and beyond.

So far the party has lost two presidential elections by offering two very squishy candidates, McCain and Romney, who did not ignite strong support among Republicans. Republicans are depressed, but they are also angry and the angriest among them are its Tea Party faction.

“By 54% to 40% Republican and Republican-leaning voters want the party’s leaders to move further to the right,” said the findings of the Pew Center survey. Tea Party Republicans “overwhelmingly favor moving in a more conservative direction, while moderates and liberals would like to see the party take more centrist positions.”

The moderates are a minority within the party and will make up an even smaller share of the likely primary electorate. Republicans who are paying any attention to the 2014 midterm elections want candidates who will take on the Obama administration and Democratic candidates in a vigorous way.

Two issues, immigration and government spending, were top concerns among the Republicans surveyed with most saying the party is not conservative enough by roughly a two-to-one margin. When it comes to government spending, the margin is four-to-one.

On gun policy, the majority said the party’s position was about right.

Both Republicans and Democrats have internal tensions. A third of those surveyed from either party thought there was too much compromise with the other, while another third thought they had not compromised enough.

Tea Party
Tea Party

The power of the Tea Party movement is often over-stated by political observers. The Pew survey found that “Tea Party Republicans have influence in the GOP partly because of their high level of political engagement. Overall, they make up a minority (37%) of all Republicans and Republican-leaning independents nationally.” The survey noted that “27% of all GOP voters are non-Tea Party conservatives, while 29% are moderates who do not agree with the Tea Party.”

This is, of course, an extrapolation from the survey’s results and is subject to change depending on events and issues in the future.

At the end of the August recess the members of Congress will return and Republican Senators and Representatives will have heard from those who attended their town hall meetings. They are not happy no matter whether they favor Tea Party viewpoints or not, but they are focused on bread-and-butter issues as opposed to conservative views on abortion, gay marriage, and other social issues. That should come as no surprise.

Republicans have been trying to recover from the last two elections that demonstrated the party was doing something wrong. They want its leaders in Congress and in the Party to address the machinations of President Obama, but are frustrated by the fact that the nation’s mainstream press is largely part of the Democratic Party machine. This poses a very big problem for Republicans and independents.

An even bigger problem, however, appears to be the divisions that exist within the Republican Party itself. If the economy does not improve —and it gives little real evidence of doing so— and unemployment remains high, those divisions may narrow in the months ahead that lead up to the midterm elections. If so, the odds will favor Republican candidates.

One thing is sure. The Republican Party today is not your father’s GOP that elected Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Those halcyon years are over.

c Alan Caruba

Alan Caruba’s commentaries are posted daily at “Warning Signs” his popular blog and thereafter on dozens of other websites and blogs. If you love to read, visit his monthly report on new books at Bookviews.

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8 years ago

The Republican party has several issues it needs to overcome. One is the stereotype that it is a party of rich, old white guys. Second, as mentioned in the article is that the party is fielding uninspiring, bland candidates that offer nothing over a Democratic candidate. Third, at least idealogically, is the Party’s tendency to overcorrect and swing harder right whenever they lose an election. “We lost? Obviously we weren’t Republican enough!”- this tends to alienate the very people that the Party should be courting. It would also help if they could keep the more insane members from finding a… Read more »

8 years ago

It is one thing to be a Republican and another to be a Democrat in Republican clothing. All of the above, except for Paul, are the latter. The key to being a successful candidate it to run on a platform that they people want. I think a pro-gun platform is all they will be needed in the 2016 election. Republicans don’t need to turn into Democrats to win, just show all the gun laws their opponent voted for. That carried the day in the first half of 2013 and it will in 2016. Too many Democrats are voting their way… Read more »

D. Murphy
D. Murphy
8 years ago

We live in a post-constitutional America. The executive acts and legislates (no constitutional power to do so) as a king. We are not coming back as the folks (low information voters) want free stuff and it will be provided by those in power as long as they can to stay in power.

M. Simon
8 years ago

There is not much conservative about today’s Republican Party. Compare today’s Republican’s support of Drug Prohibition vs their opposition in 1914 to the Harrison Narcotics Act. The 1914 Republicans were of the opinion that the Federal Government didn’t have the power of substance Prohibition.

Ever notice a Prohibition Amendment for Drugs? Me either.

And now we have all kinds of government agencies prohibiting all kinds of things.

8 years ago

That is a fact. The only real republican was Ron Paul. He represented a real choice but they werent about to let him run. I would love to see him debate ovomit. The dirty pool played on him by the republicans was dispicable. Go look up RPs ralleys compared to either romney or ovomit the attendence was over the top. Both combined couldnt beat it. I fear we lost our last chance to have a real choice and more useless politicians will be there