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Inside The Divided Republican Party


Inside The Divided Republican Party


Republican buttons

Our recent work for Democracy Corps‘ Republican Party Project has provided a deep and serious look inside the GOP. For all that holds the party together — disgust with President Obama and big government, rejection of taxes and regulations, etc. — we find serious fractures within the Republican Party. While individual representatives in very red districts will be able to hold on to their seats, the Republican Party must eventually reconcile its now deeply divided base.

Evangelical Republicans — a third of the GOP base — are consumed by social issues such as gay marriage, homosexuality, and abortion. They view their insular communities as being under serious threat from outside forces that bring “culture rot” into their homes, schools, and towns. As a result, social issues are at the center of their politics. Non-Evangelical, Tea Party Republicans — a quarter of the GOP base — are not interested in the social issues that drive Evangelicals, and they worry that social issues serve only to fracture the party. The alliance between the two groups is tenuous and uneasy. Moderate Republicans — a quarter of GOP partisans — are very conscious that they are a minority within the party. They have become increasingly uncomfortable with positions held by the conservative majority of Evangelicals and Tea Party Republicans. Their distance begins with social issues, like gay marriage and homosexuality, but it is also evident in their positions on immigration and climate change.

As our focus groups reveal, Evangelicals see “culture rot” as the biggest threat to the country—and acceptance of homosexuals is central to their critique of the U.S. today. It feels invasive and inescapable — on TV and in schools:

Like it’s a normal way of life. There’s a minority of people out there are homosexual, but by watching TV, you’d think everybody’s that way. And that’s the way they portray it. (Evangelical man, Roanoke)

Somebody’s got to say “the gay agenda.” That gets thrown around, a lot—that there’s this vast conspiracy of gays that are trying to push this. (Evangelical man, Roanoke)

My daughter’s only one, and I already am making plans for her not to go to school and have that [homosexuals] in her life, because it’s not – Not only that it’s not just something that I agree with, but it’s not something that should have to be forced down her throat. (Evangelical woman, Colorado Springs)

It’s hard when the school is directly opposing what you’re trying to teach your kids. (Evangelical man, Roanoke)

But in stark contrast, Tea Party Republicans are more apt to say, “Who cares?” about gay marriage.

Who cares? (Tea Party woman, Roanoke)

I don’t want the government telling me who I’m sleeping with or whatever in my bedroom, so I just don’t think it’s the government’s business. (Tea Party woman, Roanoke)

I think it’s not important. I mean either way we have so many bigger issues to worry about. (Tea Party woman, Roanoke)

I don’t think the government as any say in it…I personally don’t agree with gay marriage, but I don’t think the government should say who can get married and who can’t. It’s not their business. (Tea Party man, Raleigh)

And they worry that social issues distract the Republican Party—or worse, divide it.

The government, the media, the news media, you know. Of course – it’s gay rights, it’s abortion… What we need to be focused on is the financial situation. All the rest of it, I think they’re throwing stuff out, they’re feeding it to the media. (Tea Party woman, Roanoke)

The government is feeding stuff to the media to get us talking and arguing about gay rights, about abortions and stuff. (Tea Party woman, Roanoke)

I think the Republicans have lost so many people to the Democratic Party because of social issues, because of pro-life and more open ideas where if we could eliminate that from the conversation I think we’d have an entirely different electorate. (Tea Party woman, Roanoke)

And moderates, in stark contrast to both, call the Tea Party “wacky.”

A little wacky. (Moderate woman, Raleigh)

Extreme. (Moderate woman, Raleigh)

It’s kind of, the Tea Party is being just as closed minded as the other group. (Moderate woman, Raleigh)

Idiots. (Moderate man, Colorado)

Just something doesn’t smell right. (Moderate man, Colorado)

And they believe the GOP needs to be more forward-looking. They are very conscious that this is not a party of the future.

I can’t sell my kids on this party. I agree with…some of their positions. But the stupid things… for instance, the rape crap they were saying… I can’t sell them on my party. These kids are smart, they know these stupid politicians are saying crap. And these guys are representing us and they show their ignorance often. And just shut their mouth and do – again, get out of our bedrooms, get out of our lives and do what they’re supposed to do. (Moderate man, Colorado Springs)

I think of a white 54-year-old man in a business suit. And my mom. (Moderate woman, Raleigh)

I just tend to be a little bit more moderate on social issues. However I’m a pretty staunch fiscal conservative so it’s kind of like at least among my peers there’s a change in kind of the conservative group. But it doesn’t necessarily seem like the Republican Party is changing with it. (Moderate woman, Raleigh)

How long can the GOP hold on to this uneasy coalition? Right now, the conservative majority of Evangelicals and Tea Party Republicans make up a majority in states and districts the GOP now controls. In Republican-controlled states, 22 percent are non-Evangelical Tea Party and 33 percent are Evangelical Republicans. In Republican-held districts, 30 percent are Evangelical Republicans, and 23 percent are non-Evangelical Tea Party. Moderate Republicans (many of whom are increasingly tempted to split their votes) are not required to hold these Republican-held jurisdictions. However, in the most vulnerable Republican battleground districts, we find that these fractures do matter.

Click here to read the full memo by Stan Greenberg, James Carville, and Erica Seifert.

Photo: Newshour via Flickr



  1. Mortalc01l October 23, 2013

    As long as people filter reality through the lens of religion (and I’m talking both theocratic and political religion here, since politics in the USA on the right seems to be based on a belief system, rather than on the facts in evidence), we will have these types of people.

    If your religion tells you to be homophobic, that Women are lesser than Men, that unbelievers are not as worthy as believers, then you need to cast aside your religion.

    If your Worldview is based on a 2,000 year old book, written by semi-literate nomadic desert tribesmen, who had NO understanding of physics, chemistry or biology and you base your decision making process on that book and those words, then you get the Tea Party and specifically the loony Evangelical wing of the Tea Party.

    The “homosexual agenda” is really quite simple; it consists of people who are gay, demanding equality in treatment, equality in the eyes of the law and to be treated as a normal citizen, free from harassment, bigotry and violence; nothing more.

    When your sacred book gives you the example of Jesus, who helped the poor, fed the masses and healed the sick and YOU Mr. and Mrs. Tea Party are AGAINST healthcare for all and FOR cutting food to children and single mothers and the elderly, you fundamentally and tragically misunderstand the book you profess to hold so dear.

    1. GaelicWench October 27, 2013

      “If your Worldview is based on a 2,000 year old book, written by
      semi-literate nomadic desert tribesmen, who had NO understanding of
      physics, chemistry or biology…….”

      Actually, you fail to realize that these men were indeed VERY smart, very literate. Case in point: Copernicus and Galileo Galilee were two very religious men, but they stepped outside the box and took risks. Because of their risk-taking, they were able to set forth in motion the laws of science long believed to be false or non-existent. Copernicus based his science model on the earth and the other planets revolving around the sun, opposite of what Aristotle first believed; our planet was NOT the center of the universe, altho the model wasn’t without its faults. Galileo, as many know, invented a number of telescopes, which allowed him to explore the heavens. He is responsible for identifying and naming four of Jupiter’s moons, as well as the craters of the moon. And upon seeing this in motion, he had hard evidence, much to the dismay of theologians, that the earth was definitely not the center of the universe. Knowledge is power.

      1. Mortalc01l October 28, 2013

        And NEITHER of them wrote any part of the Bible, or were around 2,000 years ago, now were they?

        At the time they lived, being a non-believer meant you were going to be tortured, burned or similar, if you were found out. There were Atheists back then, they just couldn’t let it be known.

        P.S. You do know that both of those Men were persecuted by the Church and threatened with torture and death, right??? It makes your argument utterly preposterous.!

  2. robertoV05 October 23, 2013

    Wait a minute, this whole thing being pushed by liberals (via MSNBC and websites like this) somehow implies that the GOP would be okay if you pushed these people out. This is what they are. It can’t be corrected. This whole “big government” mentality goes back to a speech by Ronald Reagen, heck, we could take this back to Barry Goldwater! And there are alot of groups but it seems like liberals are trying to simplify the GOP but what about the neocons (remember them?) and then there is the white supremacists. Funny thing is that they started the Democratic party but now they are waving the confederate flags and joking about Obama’s African heritage at REPUBLICAN rallies. If you went to a Democratic rally waving a confederate flag you would catch a beat down, but at a GOP rally you would get a high five from everybody and a standing ovation! Isn’t that crazy. GOP freed the slaves, now the white supremacists practically run parts of the GOP, and the more saner ones are forced to go along or become unpopular with parts of the base. There is no “division”; this is who they are. Its not that Newt was a great leader; its just a different world now.

    1. gopersareignorant October 24, 2013

      You are completely right. Now is the time to destroy the gop and the tea party as best that can be done. It’s typical for progressives and liberals to have sympathy for one who is down and I see them having that same sympathy towards their sworn enemy that would rather kill them than see them take another breath. It is absurd. Destroy them and a decent America can be built.

  3. Allan Richardson October 24, 2013

    If you are female, neither gay males nor gay females, want to “force” anything “down your throat.”

  4. Ed Sommers October 24, 2013

    We must take steps to stop married gay men from having abortions. This abomination must stop, I tell you!

    1. sandrajeanford October 26, 2013

      You would think evangelicos and gays would be a natural fit as whose most likely to never get an abortion? Gays.

  5. Beaulieu6 October 24, 2013

    Sadly, the Tea Party-Republicans have caused the 2007 recession, 2011 sequester, and the 2013 government shutdown as the 16 days government shutdown came at a high cost of $24 billion taxpayers money, the shutdown has caused many hardship, the one we must blame and held accountable are the Tea Party-Republicans in which should be remove from office immediately.

  6. howa4x October 24, 2013

    I think that the republican moderates were frightened when the tea party was allowed to shut down the government and toy with default. The moderates are the ones that support big business and wall st was all over them to stop this..The evangelicals may pull their kids out of school to avoid the social rot that they claim is killing our values, but just teaching them creationism in a world of science is going to permanently place them behind in our society, and will probably become the new welfare class.. Young people are repelled by the republican rhetoric and are concerned by all the issues that republicans deny, like climate change, income inequality. and reproductive rights. Most want gun background checks on guns, and since they all grew up with gays don’t see what the issues are about same sex marriage. This is pretty much the same for independents who are centrists. I don’t see how this coalition of the new republican party can stay together and attract independents and young people, i.e. win the next presidential election. The tea party may have grabbed hold of the primary process but seem to have an uneasy alliance with the evangelicals. They may nominate one of their own but are not sure if republican moderates will support them in the general or just stay home. I think true believers like Cruz will drive the final wedge in the party. His antics scare too many people and his delusions of grandeur that he thinks somehow he won makes everyone not a tea party member uneasy. This article forgets the libertarians or radians who seem like the tea party but are different.
    This is a party coming apart at the seems.

    1. sandrajeanford October 26, 2013

      I don’t even think Cruz is a true believer. He’s just a cynical con man.The way to stay on top is to continually throw red meat to the base. All those donations, all those names for his email list….he can’t possibly think he can win a national general election so I’m betting he’ll go on to a lucrative career ala Sarah Palin.

      1. first last October 26, 2013

        His biography and his behavior very strongly indicates to me that Cruz is indeed a True Believer. He’s been a zealous Reaganaut since the 80’s, and most likely is just as politically-delusional as the rest of them. For example I think he probably thought Romney was going to win the election.

        1. sandrajeanford October 26, 2013

          I can believe that of people like Michelle Bachmann and Steve King but not him. There has been articles about his own fellow republicans blasting him at their weekly lunches and saying stop running attack ads against us among other things. Now he’s either too stupid to understand the implications of what he’s doing or…his rapid rise to fame is so thrilling he’s telling everyone else to f off. I’m betting the latter.

          He can’t be so stupid as to not realize he is alienating everyone he will need not only to get anything done as a Senator, but to even think about running for President. He can read the poll numbers as well as anyone else and has to know you cannot win a national election with just the tea party vote. That alone is what convinces me he’s not in it for higher office. That he’s just another snake oil salesman who will acquire his wealth and fame by fleecing the rubes.

    2. Robert Parker October 26, 2013

      …amen to that, they’ve shown everyone their @ss in this most recent contest, and then had it handed back to them– I think they’re finished in the minds of most reasonable people.

  7. BriteBlonde1 October 24, 2013

    I wonder if the Evanglicals have problems with so many of the advancements going against what is written in their Bible. They don’t seem to….

  8. Smeagel4T October 24, 2013

    As just one example of right wing propaganda dragging our country into the dirt: Thanks to FoxNews and the rest of the right wing propaganda echo chamber, everyone is constantly being reminded that Obama’s middle name is “Hussein”. How many people can tell you what George W Bush’s middle name is? I know most of you politically savvy people on here can, but consider how many average Americans might be able to. More to the point, why didn’t FoxNews and the rest of the right wing propaganda echo chamber constantly use W’s middle name? Why does Fox think it so important to keep using Obama’s middle name, when W’s middle name had absolutely no importance to Fox at all (except as an initial)? The reason is because Fox and the rest of the right wing propaganda echo chamber has been relying HEAVILY upon exploiting fear mongering based on ethnicity — both real (Obama is black) and invented (Obama is Muslim). Fox tries to hide behind avoiding being OVERTLY racist. However that’s like claiming the Nazi drawings of Jews with rat-like characteristics didn’t mean the Nazis were racist.

  9. Arturo Cortez October 25, 2013

    The Republican Party of today is missing the right thing to do, certainly the GOP has now no human virtue of political plat form value, whereas Si se Puede will continue to deny political traction of the Republican Party candidates y que viva la gent

  10. Mark October 25, 2013

    One problem with the Tea Party is they say they are “fiscal conservatives.” Then, when you ask them to be specific about what they mean by “fiscal conservative” what comes out sounds very much like “I’ve got mine, you solve your own problems.” For all their blathering, the most frightening thing is their complete lack of empathy for anyone “not like them.”

    1. Beaulieu6 October 26, 2013

      The Tea Party are for themseves and the Wealthiest 2% percent Senator Ted Cruz R-Texas is spreading lies on the airwave about the Affordable Care Act, but he and the Republicans don’t have a plan as their only plan is don’t get sick. They need to be replace by Democrats in 2014 as they don’t have an agenda as their only agenda is “OBSTRUCT” that’s the problem with the Tea Party.

      1. Mark October 28, 2013

        Yes, but our problem is that we can’t seem to stay interested enough to get our asses to the polls in off year elections. This is when the Tea Party and the Republicans in general smoke us. We need to keep the conversation pointed towards what Ted Cruz and the rest of the wingnuts did to us during the shutdown. The amount of money this cost, and the damage it did cannot be allowed to leave anyone’s heads between now and however long it takes the Democrats to regain control of all three branches of government!

  11. moelarryandjesus October 26, 2013

    The Teaturd Repiglicans and the Jesoid Repiglicans are united behind one fact – they all hate the black guy in the White House. How long their Confederacy of Scum continues after he leaves office is my question.

    1. Robert Parker October 26, 2013

      …can’t wait to see what happens when Hillary is inaugurated Jan 2017 … we should see some Oedipus eye gouging, wailing and gnashing of teeth, etc.

      1. Mark October 28, 2013

        Why wait until 2017. If you listen very carefully to the attacks already going on (Benghazi), you’ll realize the GOP is absolutely terrified of a Hillary Clinton candidacy/presidency.

  12. Beaulieu6 October 26, 2013

    The Tea Party-Republicans are getting worst every single day in which they don’t care about the middle-class 98% percent, seniors, and the poor living below poverty line, they all for themselves and the Wealthiest 2% ppercent, they don’t care who they hurt along the way.
    There are no doubt that they must be replace in the mid-term election with Democrats has we must the gavel to Congresswomen Nancy Pelosi D-California and Congress back to Democrats.
    The Tea Party-Republicans are living in fantasy they are out of touch with reality and the real world around them. They would not succeed has their approval rating is only 25% percent.
    The Democrats are united in which they will win the 17 seats to regain Congress in November 2014.

  13. Beaulieu6 October 27, 2013

    As a factory worker who has worked physically hard on the production line with my colleagues for 30 years 1976-06, I know and understand what it takes to built an economy and generate economic growth, the Tea Party-Republicans doesen’t know what its like to work physically hard on the production line at a plan without A/C unit, at 100oF in the summer time as they never experience it.
    The Tea-Party Republicans has never walked a mile or two in the shoes of a middle-class factory worker so they have know idea how it is to work physically hard has they never did.
    The Tea Party Republicans don’t understand that the engine and backbone of our economy are the middle-class factory workers who are working a 10 to 12 hrs a day on the production line.
    As we go forward together the focus as to be to create more factory jobs in the private sector, investing in our infrastructure in repairing our crumbling bridges that need despair repair.
    I’m an optimist with great confidence in the middle-class 98% percent and I’m hopeful that together with the strong leadership of Democrats, and President Obama that we will reach a lasting prosperity as early 2015 as I believe strongly that it can and will be done.

    1. Mark October 28, 2013

      While you are right, I haven’t heard many Democrats admit the truth…that these factory jobs are gone, and they’re not coming back. Someone needs to admit this, and start working out what replaces the factory and manufacturing sector. Rest assured, the Republicons have no interest in replacing ANY jobs.


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