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The Quest for a GOP Majority

12:01 PM, Jul 1, 2014 • By FRED BAUER
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In late June, the Pew Research Center released "Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology." Breaking the nation's voting public into seven types (plus one type that does not regularly vote), Pew aims to give a more granular perspective on the nation's body politic. Pew's political map can be a helpful tool for Republicans and conservatives looking to chart a path to a sustainable governing coalition.

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Pew outlines eight groups: Steadfast Conservatives ("socially conservative populists"); Business Conservatives ("pro-Wall Street"); Young Outsiders ("conservative views on government, not social issues"); Hard-Pressed Skeptics ("financially stressed and pessimistic"); the Next Generation Left ("young, liberal on social issues, less so on social safety net"); the Faith and Family Left ("racially diverse and religious"); Solid Liberals ("liberal across-the-board"); and the Bystanders ("young, diverse, on the sidelines of politics"). According to Pew, seven of the eight groups are involved in politics and vote, while the Bystanders do not participate in the electoral process. The Steadfast Conservatives and Business Conservatives constitute the electoral backbone of the GOP, going for Republicans with massive margins. Meanwhile, the Young Outsiders tilt Republican. Democrats only have a single type (the Solid Liberals) in which they outpoll Republicans by over 70 points, but they make up for this fact by having a broader coalition of types: they handily outperform Republicans among the Hard-Pressed Skeptics, Next Generation Left, and Faith and Family Left. And they even have the potential to fight the GOP among the lean-Republican Young Outsiders.

The following chart of the 2012 election results may overstate President Obama's 2012 support (it shows him winning by 11 when he only ended up winning by around 4), but it does suggest some interesting things about the 2012 election and a potential future path to victory for Republicans.

Assuming that this typology is reflective of reality, key to GOP success depends upon eating into Democratic numbers among some of the lean-Democratic groups while building on their success with Young Outsiders. At about 13 percent of registered voters, the Hard-Pressed Skeptics seem perhaps the Democrat-leaning bloc most open to Republican overtures, though headway could also be made among parts of the Faith and Family Left (16 percent of registered voters) and the Next Generation Left (13 percent of registered voters).

The Hard-Pressed Skeptics are the poorest of the politically involved types: 56 percent are in households that make less than $30,000 a year, and another 26 percent live in households that make between $30,000 and $75,000 a year. Sixty-seven percent say they struggle to make ends meet. Since 2008, Republicans have lost considerable ground with households making under $50,000 a year, and restoring its standing with the working and middle classes will be key for Republican renewal.

Hard-Pressed Skeptics seem open to conservative and Republican arguments about economics and the size of government. Only 15 percent trust government either most of the time or always. That number is considerably lower than the trust percentage of every other lean-Democrat type and is in line with the trust numbers of Business Conservatives and Young Outsiders. After Steadfast Conservatives, they are the type that is most hawkish on illegal immigration. Seventy-two percent of Hard-Pressed Skeptics believe that government is always wasteful and inefficient, and 66 percent believe that government regulation of business does more harm than good. On taxes, the Hard-Pressed Skeptics are the most hostile to raising taxes. Seventy-eight percent of Skeptics—higher even than the two Conservative type—would vote against any candidate who voted to raise taxes.

Fifty-two percent of Hard-Pressed Skeptics are constitutional originalists (a percentage only exceeded by the two Conservative blocs). Sixty-seven percent of Skeptics think that children are better off with a parent at home with them rather than having both parents working, and 51 percent think that society is improved if people place a priority on marriage and children (18 percent of Solid Liberals feel the same way). A plurality of 48 percent believe that abortion should be illegal in every case or almost all cases.

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