The Republican Party’s Ratings Now Stand at a 20-Year Low
By: Sarah JonesMar. 23rd, 2013
Remember when Speaker John Boehner lamented that President Obama wanted to shove the Republican Party to the “dustbin of history”? Turns out, it’s not Obama who’s killing the GOP; it’s more of a suicide.For those who pay attention, this should come as no surprise, but rather a “what took so long” response. Yes, America is on to the GOP. The Republican Party’s ratings now stand at a 20-year low.Andrew Kohut, founding director and former president of the Pew Research Center and president of the Gallup Organization from 1979 to 1989, is a polling expert, so when he writes a column titled “The numbers prove it: The GOP is estranged from America”, it means something.
Writing in the Washington Post, Kohut compares the radical image problem of today’s GOP with that of the Democratic Party of the 1960s and early 1970s.
“The Republican Party’s ratings now stand at a 20-year low, with just 33 percent of the public holding a favorable view of the party and 58 percent judging it unfavorably, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. Although the Democrats are better regarded (47 percent favorable and 46 percent unfavorable), the GOP’s problems are its own, not a mirror image of renewed Democratic strength.”
It’s one thing to have a few polls showing the GOP tanking, but what we have here is an undeniable trend (and national elections to back it up).
Kohut notes RNC chair Reince Priebus’ recent efforts to rebrand the party, but observes, “A long list, but one that doesn’t address the emergence of a staunch conservative bloc that has undermined the GOP’s national image.”
This is the Republican Party’s problem– the so called Tea Party that won them 2010 seats is costing them their party image. Of course, in reality, the Republican Party itself is as extreme as the media sensation of the Tea Party; their party platform spells out the extremism at every turn. They are one and the same.
The usual right wing rebuttal to numbers is that “both sides” have extremists. Yes, they do, but the left wing’s extremists are not running the party or drafting policy. Kohut points out that the entrenchment of right wing extremism is the party’s demise, “But while members of the Republican and Democratic parties have become more conservative and liberal, respectively, a bloc of doctrinaire, across-the-board conservatives has become a dominant force on the right. Indeed, their resolve and ultra-conservatism have protected Republican lawmakers from the broader voter backlash that is so apparent in opinion polls.”
The base is dominated by far right conservatives who are exceptionally active but are also “demographically and politically distinct from the national electorate. Ninety-two percent are white. They tend to be male, married, Protestant, well off and at least 50 years old.”
This has caused the party to fall in upon itself, narrowing its tent until there’s barely an opening for even the most hardened conservative. Kohut says that not only is the percentage of people self-identifying as Republican at an historic low, “(B)ut that within that smaller base, the traditional divides between pro-business economic conservatives and social conservatives had narrowed. There was less diversity of values within the GOP than at any time in the past quarter-century.”
All of the things that outsiders can see are killing the party are also its engine: The conservative media bubble, appeals to racism (sorry but it’s in the numbers and labeled “white flight”), the fear of change, and catering to the rich. It’s a circular problem with no end.
Kohut concludes, “Any Republican efforts at reinvention face this dilemma: While staunch conservatives help keep GOP lawmakers in office, they also help keep the party out of the White House.”
It’s rather ironic that the Republican Party lives in the 1960s, throwing intended bombs at their opposition that fizzle out because they are out of date and irrelevant. The GOP still thinks the Democratic Party is the party of the 1960s, and hence labeling a politician “liberal” is enough. But it’s 2013, and in these times, being a Republican/conservative is a hindrance to achieving national office.