CNN has ran a very interesting poll that gives us a lot to think about:
The poll indicates that a slight majority, 51 percent, of Republicans would prefer to see the GOP in their area nominate candidates who agree with them on all the major the issues even if they have a poor chance of beating the Democratic candidate. Forty-three percent of Republicans say they would rather have candidates with whom they don’t agree on all the important issues but who can beat the Democrats.
Democrats polled seemed to place a slightly higher priority on electoral victory: 58 percent say that they would like their party to nominate candidates who can beat Republicans, even if they don’t agree with those candidates on all the issues. Fewer than 4 in 10 Democrats say they would rather see their party nominate candidates who agree with them on all major issues, but have a poor chance of beating the Republican candidate.
When you first read this you would assume that the Republicans put issues ahead of party, which seems like a great thing. Actually it isn’t. What the poll shows is that the Republicans have an 8 point deficit in self-identified Republicans believing in the party, while Democrats are +20. Here’s the reason given for this:
“One reason for the difference between the parties: the Democrats have a relatively even split on ideological grounds. Thirty-four percent of Democrats are liberal, 40 percent are moderates and less than one in four call themselves conservatives,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
By contrast, 73 percent of Republicans questioned in the poll say they are conservatives, with only 26 percent describing themselves as liberal or moderate Republicans.
At the beginning of the decade hearing things like “the liberal Republican” wasn’t all that uncommon. They may hold a very conservative fiscal view, but a liberal social view. The Republican party has declared war on those individuals and forced them out of office, leaving them with a very small tent. Somehow the brain trust of the GOP believes it is easier to change a countries ideology than it is to be more accepting of varying ideologies – a suicidal move indeed.
Now the conservatives are certain to rally behind that 73% number, where Republicans identify themselves as conservative, but we need to remember that only 20% of this country identifies themselves as Republican, so in the larger scale that is a very dismal number. As more Republicans start feeling pushed out by the GOP, like Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins, then we will see that 20% shrink even more. Of course that 73% may become more like 80%, but given the nature of our political system and the difficulty in a 3rd party candidate winning, it becomes more likely that the few remaining Republicans that chose to leave the party will become Democrats – a place where they can be embraced.