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The Pew Research Center has released the results of an extensive survey of Republican voters. This poll clearly shows that, despite some prominent national GOP lawmakers saying we must lay low, the voters want Republicans to stand up and fight. The survey is as fascinating as it is detailed - and despite the report's claim that there is "little consensus over the party's future course", the answers given actually show a clear path forward that the leaders of the party would be wise to adopt. Indeed, despite too many eulogies to count, the Tea Party is alive and well in conservative politics.
First, the broad numbers:
Move in a more conservative or moderate direction on policy? By 54% to 40%, Republican and Republican-leaning voters want the party’s leaders to move further to the right. Not surprisingly, conservatives and those who agree with the Tea Party overwhelmingly favor moving in a more conservative direction, while moderates and liberals would like to see the party take more centrist positions. Yet the more moderate wing of the party is a minority generally, and makes up an even smaller share of the likely primary electorate. [emphasis added]
Regarding how to change the party, voters were overwhelmingly clear that the party not only needs to change its messaging, it needs to reconsider some positions. Which positions? We'll dive into that in a minute.
Before we do, let's discuss tactics. Only 27% of Republicans surveyed said that the party has not compromised enough. "On this tactical question the Tea Party stands apart: about half (53%) think party leaders have already compromised too much with Democrats, compared with just 22% of non-Tea Party Republicans." Those who identify with the Tea Party still make up almost 50% of the party or Republican-leaning independents, despite the article's spin trying to downplay the significance. (This conclusion is clear from the statement, "Overall, 27% of all GOP voters are non-Tea Party conservatives, while 29% are moderates who do not agree with the Tea Party.")
Now, let's discuss specific policy positions. From this chart in the article graphing voter responses, several clear trends emerge. Again, the article tries to spin the results in a way that connotes inner conflict in the party, but the numbers show otherwise. On every single policy position, Republican voters overwhelmingly think that the party either isn't conservative enough or is about right, with small minorities in every case saying that the party is too conservative.
The clear pattern that emerges from this survey is that the voters who put Republicans into office still want to see strong, principled conservatives who will take a stand and fight against the erosion of our values.
A spot of Tea, anyone?