The Republican Disconnect


With the country poised for its second wave election, Republican supporters are on a different page and disconnected from the rest of the country. That helps explain John McCain’s implausible close to the campaign and perhaps foretells difficulties Republicans will face dealing with the aftermath. In this special national survey with an enlarged sample of self-identified Republicans and independents who identify with Republicans, we asked the question, “who is to blame for John McCain’s possible defeat?” Republicans believe McCain will have lost because of a hostile mainstream media, economic events beyond their control and Democrats having more money and resources. Few have begun to examine bigger issues, though their views of the current campaign and the future suggest a party very out of touch with unfolding events.

  • While a sizeable majority of voters say Republicans have lost in 2006 and 2008 because they have been “too conservative,” a sizeable plurality of Republicans say, it is because they have “not been conservative enough.”
  • Over three-quarters of Republicans say Palin was good choice, while a majority of the electorate says the opposite.
  • Two-thirds of Republicans say McCain has not been aggressive enough, but a majority of voters think they have been too aggressive.
  • Looking to the future, a large majority of Republicans say the party needs to “move more to the right and back to conservative principles,” while an even larger majority of all voters say, it should move to the “center to win over moderate and independent voters.”
  • Finally, almost 60 percent of Republicans say “if Barack Obama is elected, he will lead the country down the wrong path and Republicans should oppose his plans,” while 70 percent of all voters say they “should give him the benefit of the doubt and help him achieve his plans.”

Those responses are not surprising when you ask Republicans the cause of their defeats: 65 percent say the mainstream media favoring Obama, followed distantly by economic events outside anyone’s control (29 percent) and Obama and the Democrats having more money (25 percent). Only 12 percent thought that McCain wanting to continue Bush’s policies was the culprit, only 10 percent pointed to Palin and only 8 percent suggested the big spending and deficits were to blame.

The key issue from this special survey of Republicans is whether or not the party is connected enough to what is happening in the country to work with the new leaders of the country and to begin the process of self-examination necessary for political change.

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