Poll: Is Our Message More Effective Without GOP Label?

Very sobering read. -Patrick

A new poll by widely respected Public Opinion Strategies pollster Glen Bolger has some very interesting data on an important question: What do voters think of the Republic message when it isn’t attached to the GOP label? His data is a perfect way to test whether voters…

A. Like what we have to say but simply don’t trust us after Bush, Iraq, Katrina, overspending, the bridge to nowhere, endless scandals (need I go on?).


B. Don’t like us because they don’t agree with what we say we want to do for the country.


The poll was conducted with Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg for NPR, and Glen Bolger emailed it out to POS’s client list this week. I posted the poll up online here. The part I’m talking about starts on page 24. Be sure to read the poll before scrolling down if you want to look at the data without being biased by my or Glen’s analysis.  For those who don't know POS is probably the most prominent GOP polling firm.

Ok read it? Now here’s Glen’s takeaway in a scathing memo you can find here.

The news in the survey is NOT the terrible political environment – you already are aware of that, and if you are not, please retire. The news is NOT that John McCain has a slight deficit when matched against Barack Obama, despite stronger support for McCain from Republicans than Obama gets from Democrats (see my April memo for why that is a challenge for ALL Republican campaigns). NOR is the news that voters are angry about gas prices and think the Democrats are better able to handle the economy.

Instead, the news is the four match-ups between the Republican message and the Democrats’ message on the key issues of the economy, Iraq, trade, and taxes. The Democratic message consistently won out over the GOP message by eleven to 25 points.

Let’s take a deeper look into the data and see how our messages play when voters know where they’re from and when they don’t know which party is saying what. If you want the exact wording of both parties’ message and the full data, go back and take a second look at the poll.

Let’s start with the economy. When voters know what party each message comes from, we lose 37% to 58% and trail among independents by 18%. Ouch. However, when you read both messages without telling voters who they come from, the story gets worse.

Republican voters like the Democrat’s message more than their own party’s message by a large 14% margin when they don’t know which party it comes from. Just as disturbing, numbers among independents drop by another 10%... giving the Democrats a massive 28% advantage. Even our horrifically damaged image is better than our message on the economy. Independents and even Republicans simply like the Democrats’ plan more than ours.

Iraq and trade both follow the exact same pattern. We’re getting smashed on both issues on the partisan test, but when you look at the nonpartisan test where our damaged image isn’t a factor, the numbers get even worse among Independents and Republicans. A few Democrats (and in the case of trade a bunch of Democrats) move our way on the nonpartisan ballot, but Independents actually agree with our messages more when they know the messages came from Republicans.

On taxes, the picture gets more complex. On the partisan text, Independents like the Democrats’ message by significant 14% margin, but Republicans still like our message and give us a resounding 39% advantage. That changes drastically on the nonpartisan test.

When the party’s names are removed, Independents are almost evenly split, giving the Democrats’ message a small 5% advantage. However, Republican voters stampede away from the GOP message. Among Republicans, support for the GOP message on taxes drops by a gargantuan 53% when the party’s names are removed, leaving the Democrats with a 14% advantage. You read that right, on the nonpartisan test, Independents like the GOP message on taxes more than Republicans do and even Independents slightly favor the Democrats.

The takeaway? Our message right now is electoral poison and this isn’t all about “brand.”

There's a lot more to be said about these numbers, I’d love to hear everyone’s take on them in the comments section. I’ll close with some more advice from Glen Bolger’s memo:

Look at some of the language in the themes that the NPR survey tested from the Democrats. You might not feel comfortable with all of the examples below, but if you think Republicans can not use any of those, that’s simply too much Inside the Beltway thinking:

- “The economy has worked well for CEOs but not for the middle class, and we need a big change in direction.”

- “We should repeal the special tax breaks for companies moving jobs overseas and for the oil companies.”

- “We need to cut middle class taxes across the board, limit drug prices, and make health care more affordable.”

- “We should partner with business to invest in clean alternative energy to create the jobs of the future.”

- “We must strengthen America’s security by starting to reduce our troops in Iraq in a responsible way, force the Iraqi government to use its oil money to pay for reconstruction, and work with other nations to bring stability.”

- “With such financial pressures on families, we need to focus completely on middle class tax relief and making sure government works for them, not the special interests.”


Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (4 votes)



The message is broken and stale (if there's even one), the image is broken, we're out of touch to the needs and values of the voters, and we have no serious means to deliver the message.

Years of neglect

Our message doesn't resound in part because of years of neglect in selling it.  People do not understand how the economy works, and nobody seems capable of doing the hard and perpetual work of educating the public.


Our party has done a very poor job of communicating the message or even knowing what it is.  Whoever is on the Party payroll is either asleep at the switch or just AWOL.  With all the resources of the internet at your fingertips you would think they would actively talking with the rank and file.  Go to the GOP website blog you will see what I mean about a lack of interaction with the Party members.  What's infuriating is Howard Dean and Harry Reid pay more attention and interact with the Daily Kos than the GOP does with it's members.  The GOP idea of interaction is sending a questionaire mailer asking for money.  I've got plenty of Bush Calendars and GOP pins!   It's not that the message is stale is that the messengers are deaf blind and dumb.

I'm not fully agreeing with the article since the problem as I see it is a failure of party leadership to interact and therefore lead.  What they do is ASSUME we all agree and don't communicate directly with the membership.  There is no emotional connection.  If you can't explain or discuss your position with the membership, you certainly can't defend your position to the rest of the country, the leadership of the GOP hasn't bothered to explain squat. 

What worse is they are pitiful when it comes to combating the clever spin of lib Dems when it comes to various issues.  It's like there is no opposition from the GOP, they just assume everyone knows what they are talking about and then are stumped when the lib Dems spin the story and everyone gets confused.  What we lack are operatives, people who plan and impliment the response and coordinate with the GOP politicians to give a consistent message. 

I'm a Democrat

This is my first comment ever on this site. I stumbled upon it by following a link from OpenLeft and I have to say, this is one of the most fascinating blogs I've ever read! It is unlike any other Republican blog I've been to. I guess I wasn't aware that there were Republicans actively working to reform their party for the 21st century. Anyway, you're like new favorite Republicans and I'll stop blabbering now and get to the point.

I'm a little surprised to read a statement like this:

Our party has done a very poor job of communicating the message or even knowing what it is.  Whoever is on the Party payroll is either asleep at the switch or just AWOL.

From my point of view, Republicans have, for a long time, been the masters of communication. Republicans, at least for the last 15 years, have communicated with emotional resonance and displayed an uncanny ability to stay on message.

I do agree, however, with this:

Howard Dean and Harry Reid pay more attention and interact with the Daily Kos than the GOP does with it's members.

From my point of view, Democrats are more in tune with their voters' concerns. Where the Republicans have a more top-down structure (which is what allows them to stay on message so well), the Democrats are more like a web of different interest groups who often, but not always, share similar views on a variety of subjects. Each structure has its pros and cons.

Ultimately, I think the problem goes beyond message. It's much more fundamental. I've been reading a book recently called "Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube and the Politics of the Future." It's authors are Democrats.

In the book, they expand upon earlier work by Strauss & Howe about the cyclical nature of generational archetypes and what implications it has on American politics. Briefly, here is the finding of both Strauss & Howe and the MM authors:

There are 4 types of American Generations:

Civic (GI Generation, Millennials)
Adaptive (Silent Generation, Whatever comes after Millennials)
Idealist (Baby Boomers)
Reactive (Generation X)

Rinse and Repeat.

In this cycle, there are two dominant generations (Civic and Idealist) and two submissive generations (Adaptive and Reactive).

The Civic Generations are your "If we work together we can achieve anything" generations. A civic generation fought themselves out of the depression and fought WWII and it looks like a civic generation might combat some of the daunting challenges America currently faces.

The Adaptive Generations are quick to follow the lead of the dominant generation, whatever it may be at the time. These generations are happy to go with the flow and not make waves.

The Idealist Generations are the "My way or the highway" generations (Think Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush :-/ ). They are firm in their convictions and quick to thrust their "visions" on others. Idealist generations, as far as its political implications, have been characterized by political gridlock and antipathy towards political parties.

The Reactive Generations are quick to find fault or identify problems but are loathe to create solutions, often playing the victim before ultimately conforming to the status quo.

A big feature of the cyclical nature of American generations are the political realignments they bring about. The recipe for a political realignment is as follows:

1. A young, dominant generation comes of age, enters the workforce and begins voting. 2. A new and revolutionary way of communcating becomes popular and 3. There is a major disaster or crisis that forces Americans to change their point of view on politics.

These political realignments occur approximately ever 35-40 years. The last two?

1960-1968: The assassination of our President, ramping up of the cold war, the vietnam war and the assassination of MLK and RFK were the multiple crises. Television (think Kennedy vs. Nixon debate) was the revolutionary way of communicating. And the baby-boomers were coming of age and entering the workforce (as well as voting and protesting!).

In '68 Nixon was elected president and he ushered in a new conservative era of lower taxes and deregulation that would last for 40 years.

1929 - 1936: Crisis was the stock market crash/great depression. Radio was the revolutionary way of communicating (fireside chat anyone?) and the GI generation was coming of age, entering the workforce and voting.

In 1932, American voters swept FDR into office along with huge majorities in congress. They enacted New Deal legislation. Americans went on to fight the Nazis and Japan and America became a superpower.

We're approaching a new civic realignment (as opposed the idealist realignment of '68).

Crisis: 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, terrorism, global warming, bad economy
Revolutionary communication: High-Speed Internet (and thank god, right? I'm so glad I was born in the 80's).
Coming of Age: civic-minded, tolerant, millennials (Which is not say we all possess those characteristics, just like not all GenXers are whiny brats,  and not all baby-boomers are stubborn "hippies" or "squares").

Anyway, the point of me sharing this very, very long comment is that I think the political changes we're seeing right now were inevitable. No political realignment is inherently Democratic or Republican, but whichever party takes advantage of the changes will reap the rewards.

I'd love to write a diary and expand upon the implications of living in either an idealist generation or a civic generation, if it's something readers here would be interested in and you don't think I'm just a big liberal asshole.

I think the Republicans are in a really bad place right now and I won't pretend I'm not happy about it. But if Republicans don't change the way they do things, they won't just be the political minority, they will be politically extinct. That's a problem. It is imperative that going forward we have both a thriving political majority AND a thriving poltical minority. Big changes are going to happen and it's important for Americans of all points of view to be part of the those changes. We will be stronger as a country for having an honest and open debate about what path we want to take.

Futhermore, the next political minority should in no way resemble the most recent Republican or Democratic political minorities. One is ruthlessly corrupt and domineering, the other was helplessly weak and too comfortable playing the victim.




GOP label hurts

It hurts in two ways:

First, we have those in charge who have forgotten the values that allowed Reagan to win. They've gone back to the years of the Harding administration.

Second, and though this may sound stupid, 'Grand Old Party' makes us sound old to the younger generation. When we keep putting up candidates like McCain and Dole, it just reinforces that stereotype.

Not according to this poll.

The messages that were polled in this study are the same messages that Reagan won on.  Either the message has lost in the arena of ideas (in which case the GOP is done in America), or the study is flawed.

Or the ideas need to be updated

Can we stop referring everything to Reagan?

If this is really true...

...then the GOP might as well fold the tent.  It's not just a deficit we're facing, but a total REJECTION of conservatism.  According to this poll, even Republicans want a big socialist government that controls all our lives and the free-market.  They don't care about taxes, and embrace left-wing social policies, all by 20, 30, and even 40 pt margins!!!!

Again, if this really is true, then the GOP will not win another election.  Period.  Anywhere.  The red districts will slowly fade away and the Democrats will have a 200 seat majority in the house and they'll never fall below 80 senators.  Again, IF that's true.


I can't imagine it being true, but that is what will happen, without a doubt, if it's true.  Even if it's half true.

Conveying a sense of urgency

In reading those questions, I can see why the Democrat position does so well. The Democratic statement starts off with a sense of anger and outrage about the problem ("this economy has worked well for CEOs not the middle class and we need a big change in direction"). The Republican statement usually jumps right into issue specifics and loses people right off the bat. The Republican statement needs to convey anger and urgency. 

People also don't evaluate issue positions through the lens of rational 100 word statements. They go on gut feelings. That's partly why the gap narrows when you bring party into it. The "R" or "D" kicks in a gut instinct and yanks lots of people back to their natural party label. But not all the way back, because the Republican framing is so bad. 

What if you tested a GOP economy/taxes message that was like this:

This economy is not working for the middle class. We face soaring energy and food prices, big challenges internationally, and a mortgage crisis brought on by irresponsible, speculative behavior. Now is the time for bold economic reform. Lower taxes for the middle class. A tax code that's simpler and works for working Americans. Gas tax relief. This is not the time for risky Democrat tax increases that would do to your tax bill what's been done to your family at the gas pump. We need to try something different -- putting more money in your family budget for a change. 

Isn't this why people have been urging populism?

I don't think that it was an accident that the last two GOP candidates standing have sharp populist edges and Mitt Romney's only real success in a Republican primary was when he ran a populist campaign (Michigan).

Our candidates have to start by acknowledging the problems that people have. If people don't believe that we understand their problems, they aren't going to vote for us. (oooo. Some say that's populism)

Dick Morris made this point repeatedly:

John McCain built up massive popularity among American voters with his populist opposition to swindlers, liars and thieves, whether in business, Congress, labor or the defense community. His take-no-prisoners attitude toward corruption and his willingness to battle it wherever it crops up has made him an icon among our political leaders.

Morris sees a winning strategy:

This is precisely the kind of populist rhetoric that John McCain needs to embrace to have a chance to win the general election. He has got to draw a sharp distinction between himself and the stewards of Wall Street and side with Main Street in their battle against easy wealth and special privilege. By flanking the Democrats on the front of economic and social populism, McCain can be himself and can win.

Republicans are going to have a problem because we are left holding the bag. The guys involved in making the widely rejected status quo are also the guys who are trying to run away from it. The optics just don't work.

And our answer is to blame the democrats.


That's extraordinary. When we connect the problems of real people with solutions that address those problems and a plausible stance from which we offer it, there will be some sort of progress. But not til then.


Threading the needle

I'm all for McCain populism going after crooks and ne'er do well-ers.  But a few of those pointed elbows were thrown haphazardly at Wall Street/Business generally instead of just at those who have done wrong.  In the long run this hurts our ability to promote a healthy economic agenda that isn't isolationist on trade and doesn't have the second highest corporate tax rate in the world.  No, those things don't sell well, but they are (or should be) part of the governing agenda.  McCain undermines the free economy consensus with his shotgun approach.

When McCain criticized the defense community (whether for largesse or incompetence) nobody interpreted that to mean that McCain was opposed to the defense community generally.  I can't say the same thing about his attacks on business, and I would like to see him use a more focused approach.  If the CEO of Countrywide Financial is a crook, call him out - with gusto.  But don't indict Wall Street generally, particularly since this feeds back into the Dem class warfare tactics.


General Response to the Presentation/Memo

Thoughts upon reading the presenation and memo.


pg 19 - The title to page 19 is spot on.  Hillary copied (then perverted) McCain's gas holiday plan.  McCain was first, regardless of how effective the plan would be.  The numbers show that nobody has a majority positive imprint on gas prices though, so there is clearly room to do some work here in putting out a positive plan.

I don't like how some of these questions are worded about "having a plan".  What about "having a good plan"?  Not sure if it would make a difference, but it is clear that Hil/bama have "plans", however half-baked.

pg 25 - Is that a Republican message?  Sounds like it could have been Hillary's.  Notice that the Dem message is extremely negative, a list of all the bogeymen from CEOs to oil companies. (See Patrick's comment above...)

pg 25/26 - That's THE message?  That's all we've got?  No wonder it tested poorly.

pg 27 - Interesting that the Dem message linked the war to the economy.  Wonder what would happen if the economic message wasn't there.

pg 29 - I would like to see the Dem anti-NAFTA message tested against a counter message about how it could make our oil imports from Canada and Mexico more expensive.  Also, the Republican message on trade was basically the Bill Clinton message on trade, and people seem to be longing for the 90s economy.

pg 31 - Interesting that the Dem message again dragged in the oil companies.  One would think that ending pork and corporate welfare would be a decent message...


"We are absent from the battlefield of ideas."
Amen to that!

"Action Step: Make a list of issues on which you differed from the President, and be ready to talk about them. The Democratic message is that incumbent Smith is a rubberstamp
for President Bush. You need to present evidence that this is NOT the case."

Unfortunately (as I have argued elsewhere), this is an uphill battle when the main issues are Energy/Iraq/Economy/Healthcare.  Not just any difference will "count".

On Point 4 (Take some risks) I agree with the general prescription, but I wonder if hammering oil companies isn't just reinforcing the Dem message.

Note also that the questions

Note also that the questions generally begin "Based upon what you've heard" or similar language.  Political blogs, like this one, only reach a tiny portion of the electorate.  Like it or not,  the vast majority of voters continue to get their news from traditional sources:  newspapers and the networks.  Now tell me...what are the messages, for example, on Iraq, and the economy, coming from those sources?

Poll after poll, for years, have shown that, when asked a question such as 'How do you believe the economy is doing?'...the answer today is "lousy"....but when asked 'How are you personally doing?', the answer is far more positive.  Same goes for questions about Congress...general questions get hammered, but the local representative is far more acceptable.  I'd love to see a poll of families who have members serving, or have served, in Iraq, asking what they think of the situation there.  I can tell you what this father of a Marine Iraq vet would say.

It is also very easy to demagogue with populist rhetoric specifically designed to rouse the masses, a tactic at which Democrats and liberals are expert.  Of course, when offered 'free health care for all!', or when presented with 'big oil' villians in the spike in gas prices, respondents will rally 'round.  Conservatives offer solutions, not rhetoric.  The subprime mortgage crisis is a perfect example.  No one...NO ONE...is to blame other than those who bought more house than they could afford, with little or no investment, and who are more than willing to walk away from it when they can't meet the payments, and the market won't cover the mortgage.  So when told that the market will correct the problem...it will be painful, and take time...voters, trained to look to government for easy solutions, run to where they'll get it. 

Long term vs short term.

First, the phrasing of the questions as "Based upon what you've [seen, read, or] heard" is standard language and is kept for consistency across time if nothing else.  I don't think that particular phrasing impacted the numbers.

One problem we are running up against is the amount of time it takes to get a point across.  Most people here would probably agree that, as in your example, the correction in the housing market should be mostly left to its own.  But unfortunately you can't beat Econ101 into people's heads in a few months, particularly when they're P.O.'d right now.  What you CAN do, is employ rhetoric about not wanting to bail out greedy speculators and investment banks on the taxpayer's dime, which is essentially the same policy but a different message.

The phrasing of the question....

...isn't the point; the fact is the if people do so 'based upon what they've seen, read, or heard', the results are predictable, for the reasons I've outlined.  Indeed, the Pew Reasearch Center, hardly friendly to either Republicans or conservatives, just published their own poll of the press narrative of the three remaining candidates; predictably, Obama and Clinton enjoy postitive coverage at rates of 69 and 67% respectively, while McCain lags at 43%.  Match those percentages against the thread subject poll, and you've got enough of a match to conclude that negative reactions to the Republican message is inevitable.

My Spin Starts Here

Here's my 2 cents - actually it's about a dime's worth, so here goes:

“The economy has worked well for CEOs but not for the middle class, and we need a big change in direction.”

  • Problem: Workers of the world hate and want to eat the rich.
  • Solution: Educate the public that according to the Democrats, the middle class ends and the wealthy class begins at approximately $50K income for the entire household. Once the majority of American households realize that the Democrats are labeling them as “wealthy” this statement takes on a whole new meaning.
- “We should repeal the special tax breaks for companies moving jobs overseas and for the oil companies.”
  • Problem: The evil corporations are giving our jobs away to ungrateful foreigners.
  • Solution: Educate the public with examples and details of foreign corporations like Honda, Toyota, Airbus, InfoSys, TCS, etc. who invest in American labor and bring jobs back into America, also. According to Merinews.com: “Today, high growing Indian economy is not only providing job opportunities to indigenous technology professionals but on the contrary they are attracting foreign experts themselves. Companies like Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services have a large number of these professionals on their payrolls.”
    • Once Americans see the opportunity in globalization, they will have options besides being terrorized by it. 
    • It wouldn’t hurt to mention that when Democrats raise state taxes and overregulate it pushes businesses out of their states also. Ohio and California are the poster children for this phenomenon. 
-“We need to cut middle class taxes across the board, limit drug prices, and make health care more affordable.”
  • Problem: Only the wealthy can afford to be healthy, it’s so unfair to the poor.
  • Solution: Remind the public where the cutoff is for “wealthy” incomes so that they know who’s going to pay for the poor to obtain health care. Then work with private health insurance providers to offer sliding scale rates for health insurance, including preventive care that will offset catastrophic care expenses.
-“We should partner with business to invest in clean alternative energy to create the jobs of the future.”
  • Problem: We haven’t done a damn thing about adopting clean, alternative energy even though we’ve known it was going to bite us for an entire generation.
  • Solution: Admit we really screwed this one up – all of us. We all allowed the fear of 3 Mile Island and Chernobyl to dominate our dependency on foreign oil and fossil fuels – talk about fear-based politics! Educate the public on the French and Japanese safe nuclear solutions and bring in Patrick Moore, the founder of Greenpeace who’s now a nuclear proponent, to spearhead the campaign and combat his former environmental colleagues.
-“We must strengthen America’s security by starting to reduce our troops in Iraq in a responsible way, force the Iraqi government to use its oil money to pay for reconstruction, and work with other nations to bring stability.”
  • Problem: Iraq is really, really expensive in terms of both blood and treasure.
  • Solution: I love the idea of charging the Iraqi Government for our military services. Works for me!
- “With such financial pressures on families, we need to focus completely on middle class tax relief and making sure government works for them, not the special interests.”
  • Problem: The middle class is being bullied and impoverished by evil special interests.
  • Solution: Keep pounding home the Democratic definition of “middle class” as opposed to “professional class” or “tenured college professor class” or “30 year Government Employee/Labor Union class with 100% salary retirement benefit”, all of whom earn more than $50K per year per person, much less per household.  Never forget that perception is reality, and create a different reality. 


I agree

The GOP label has been tarnished over the course of the last decade, and will take at least another decade (or a complete economic collapse under Obama) in order to repair it.  The message this website wishes to convey would certainly be better if not attached to the GOP label as the GOP no longer represents conservatives.

The GOP No Longer Represents Conservatives?

How do you define conservative?  Just curious. 

The GOP Label

It obviously hurts in liberal areas and helps in conservative ones.

In high school, my history teacher read off the political positions of the two candidates who were running for Governor of Ohio.  Bob Taft and Tim Hagan.  He did not give their names or their party affiliations.

The class voted something like 14-6 for Taft.  When my teacher disclosed the parties of candidates A and B, people asked to change their vote.  The vote ended up something like 5-15. Yes, this was among ninth graders in a liberal suburban highschool, but it gives you an idea of what can happen if a brand is bad.

Of course, I'm sure the reverse would have happened in a Republican-dominated area.

Be combative, apply reality to their stupid ideas with humor

The problem is Republicans are panicking and are not paying attention to what Democrats are doing.  Skip the issues and pay attention to the emotions used and then learn to hit back.  They want to tax the rich, so respond with "Yes, tax the rich and they won't be able to hire the poor. Poor people should not work. They should stay on welfare because they will never get rich there."


By doing this, the Democrats are put on the defensive of having to defend their ideas.   Take a look at what MoveOn is doing attacking Republicans.  They act as if Republicans control congress but they don't.  Time to blame the Democrats for the economy and run with it.

Try the party match quiz to see where you stand

Have you done any of the party or candidate matches?  Here is a party match.  You can do it without registering if you click on “Don’t Save.”  http://www.ontheissues.org/quizeng/xPartyMatch/start.asp  I scored best with the GOP 75% personal and 55% economy vs. Dem 25% personal and 50% economy.  All of my family and friends are members of the “working class.”       

McCain and Huckabee were the ones most able to connect with the people; the reason they were able to get the most votes per dollar spent.  They sure didn’t have conservative pundits helping them.  The pundits have begun to fulfill the GOP reputation of being “the party of the rich.”  Rush said he didn’t think the majority of his listeners would receive the tax rebates.  The pundits were against their populist message; which explains why they hated McCain and Huckabee.  I quit listening to Rush and the other pundits when I realized they weren’t “talking” to me.  It’s about time the pundits realize there are not enough “wealthy” Republicans to win an election.  Many of them supported candidates more in tune with “fiscal” responsibility than moral values.  I was a Reagan Democrat that joined the Republican Party mostly because of their stand for moral values; including personal responsibility.  The Democrats are no longer the Party of the working class.  What happened to “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country”?  They are now the Party of the haves and have nots; the extremely wealthy and extremely poor and of course the brainwashed union workers.   

I have never understood what is wrong with a politician being a populist.  “Populist” means “a believer in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people.”  Isn’t that what “we the people” was supposed to mean?  I have done many of the candidate matches.  Huckabee was always my top match.  When tax records of the candidates were published; Huckabee was considered a pauper compared to the others.  He relates to “we the people” because he is one of us.  He was the first GOP candidate to realize lower – middle wage earners are hurting; probably because more of his close friends are among them.  The majority of Americans are lower-middle income wage earners.  McCain/Huckabee will be the best team to compete against the Democrats for 2008.      

Constitution Party

I most closely matched the Constitution Party candidate. I am only 50% GoP and it went down from there.

I have to agree that the GoP has lost it's way. It is supposed to be the party of small government, low taxes, etc.



To me, the truly fascinating discovery in this study is how little Republicans, as compared to Democrats, really know what they believe.

When you tell Republicans that they're hearing a "Republican" position, their opinions swing wildly in support of the position.

When you tell Dems that they're hearing a Dem position or a Pub position, it has very little effect.

Is "yes, comrade, whatever you say, comrade" an admirable or worthy basis for a moral position, or for making policy choices?

      So... Glen Bolger's




So... Glen Bolger's "solution" is for the GOP to become more "populist," in short, to pander to the electorate's fears and ignorance. Great. Glen... buddy... America already has a Party that does that - the Democratic Party.
Bolger writes, "Reflexively taking the side of big business and big oil is a recipe for defeat. Defend taxpayers, not corporations."
What does that mean...? Does it mean portray "big oil" as "the enemy?" Sure sounds like it to me. (I wonder... is Glen aware that “Big Oil” consists mainly of foreign state owned and controlled governmental enterprises and not American owned and controlled privately/publicly owned capitalist enterprise?)
Bolger continues, “Get angry at big oil, OPEC. Talk about things you’ve done to fight for change.”
Huh? CONGRESS is responsible for the mess we’re in, not the oil companies, not OPEC. The politicians - both Republican and Democrat - are responsible for the mess we find ourselves in. It was all predictable. It was all preventable. Sure, the Democrats are more to blame than the Republicans since based upon their ideology they proactively worked to retard domestic energy source development, but Bush and the RINO Republicans in Congress were complacent in allowing what amounts to unilateral energy resource disarmament. And even if one were to give some of the more “pro-development” rhetoric coming out of Republican political circles the benefit of the doubt on sincerity, bottom line... those folks couldn’t even beat the “environmental lobby” among their own leadership when Republicans controlled both Houses of Congress and the White House.
In line with his advice that Republican elected officials and would-be elected officials “defend taxpayers, not corporations,” Bolger apparently believes that the GOP should sign on to the “limit drug prices and make health care more affordable” mantra of socialism light. Great. Because after all, the moment Republicans start sounding like faux Democrats, real Democratic voters will desert real Democratic candidates in droves in order to support Republicans who suddenly sound more... like Democrats. Sure! That’s a plan! (An insane plan... a losing plan... but nevertheless... a plan.)
Rhetoric over reality. Style over substance. Say anything to get elected. Have Republican Washington insiders learned nothing since 2006?
No. I don’t reject all of Bolger’s analysis. I read the poll. Nothing in it surprised me. But the answer isn’t to try and co-opt the populist, pandering, intellectually dishonest and counterproductive rhetoric of the Democrats, it’s to tell the American People the TRUTH.
We all want cheaper drugs. How do we get there? I’d suggest increasing patent protection so that the pharmaceutical companies who actually develop the cutting edge life-saving, quality of life improving drugs can look forward to reasonable long-term profits rather than having to make a reasonable return on investment within an unreasonably tight time window.
Healthcare reform? Sure. Get the government OUT of healthcare as much as possible. Get employers OUT of healthcare as much as possible. Reverse the counterproductive tax policies which created the monster of “Third Party Providers” in the first place. Remove mandates. Tell the states they can no longer stop their citizens from buying out of state - or even out of nation - health insurance policies. Make “bumper-to-bumper” health insurance policies all but illegal and concentrate on creating a system where catastrophic policies are the norm. Regardless of whether folks agree or disagree with all or any of my specific proposals, these are the sort of proposals the Republicans should be championing - free market solutions to free market problems.
Anyway... that’s my two cents worth. (For now, anyway...)




i think the thread shows...

We are still struggling to understand the environment we face.


Well, there are a few problems with this poll and the discussion of it. First of all, it assumes that Republicans are seen primarily in terms of economic policy. I think, despite the constant, exhausting "lower taxes" cries, this is patently not the case. Even then, the difference really isn't felt until you reach very high incomes, assuredly not the $50K threshold (I currently make that much, so I kind of have a stake in it). And even then, the difference is relatively insignificant (Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest marginal rate lowered it, what, 2%?). Republican manufactured paranoia about taxes isn't going to happen. There will be no return to a 70% marginal rate, or even a 50%, or even a 40% marginal rate! I think its safe to say that the Republicans won that battle (so handily, in fact, that I had no idea at all that we used to have rates that high... it seems ridiculous!).

Now to the main point. The Republicans aren't the party of rugged individualism and I would argue they never were. The Republicans have economic policies? Since when? Maybe in 1994! 

My friend, a Republican, recently told me than another friend of ours would one day become a Republican because, to quote the Simpsons, "Surly only looks out for one guy: Surly." I was somewhat shocked. I responded that the only part of his party platform that would possibly help with that particular concern would be a slight lowering of taxes (since this friend will not be cracking the $200K threshold anytime soon, he might actually pay lower taxes with the Democrats). The real face of the Republican party is not the tax-cutter, but the militant anti-abortionist. Not the yeoman farmer, but the closeted self-loathing homosexual prowling the bathrooms and Page quarters. Not the old Yankee yelling to "keep off his land" but the reactionary reverend. Not the industrious entrepreneur but the sleazy beneficiary of cronysim. Not the liberator, but the torturer. The leader who seeks war over peace. The violator of civil liberties. The ignoramus so slow that the act of wearing a flag pin is somehow an issue (you too, Democrats, on this one). The cowards yelling that dissent is treason.

Wikipedia (I know, I know) says: "In the 21st century the Republican Party is defined by social conservatism, a hawkish foreign policy to defeat terrorism and promote global democracy, a more robust executive branch, tax cuts, and deregulation and subsidizing of industry." The only good thing about these policies is promoting democracy, which is half of one, and cutting taxes, which can often be irresponsible when done in the manner they have been recently. I'll grant that some industries need to be deregulated a bit, but some clearly require more regulation to preserve competition (cough, healthcare, cough).

This is your party now. Show me a Republican party that has fled the religious right and their irrational coercive policies, and I will be happy. Show me a Republican party that supports liberty (THAT MEANS ALL KINDS, NOT JUST IN BUSINESS!!!!... sorry) instead of using big government to enforce morality, and I will vote for it. Show me this despicable, socially backward, Constitution-ripping monstrosity, and I will vote Democratic, though it often pains me to do so (I am an independent).

"Wikipedia (I know, I know)

"Wikipedia (I know, I know) says: "In the 21st century the Republican Party is defined by social conservatism, a hawkish foreign policy to defeat terrorism and promote global democracy, a more robust executive branch, tax cuts, and deregulation and subsidizing of industry."

Unfortunately, there is much truth in the above; I have no problem at all with a hawkish foreign policy to defeat terrorism, having lost a family member on 9/11, and as the father of a Marine who fought in Iraq.  But the rest of the above defines the kind of neoconservatism that is self-defeating.  Coming to terms with big government as conservatives is suicidal, and we see the results every day.  Anyone who was paying attention in 2000 knows that George Bush did not run as a conservative; he made it clear that he would be soft on immigration, push for a new Medicare prescription drug entitlement, and throw yet more billions down the Federal education toilet.  "Compassionate conservatism" should have sent chills down the spine of any true conservative. 

This ain't rocket science, people.  Lower taxes, smaller government, respect for the Constitution as written, protecting private property and enterprise, borders that mean something....the formula to winning elections is simple.  Republicans, Bush in particular, have been pitifully lacking in communicating the message.  Yes, social conservatism should be part of that message; one only need see the success of state initiatives protecting traditional marriage, or Ward Connerly's courageous fights against quotas to agree.  But they should not be the defining issues as some would have, only part of the overall message.

Ah, come on.

Show me a Republican party that has fled the religious right and their irrational coercive policies, and I will be happy.


If you are any further right than Barack Obama, I'd be very surprised.

Crunching the numbers a bit


Adding the republican brand gets republicans rallying round the flag (even one they don't believe in without the brand attached) in double-digit numbers.

With Democrats, it's exactly the opposite (but only with single-digit moves).


So who's got the branding problem?




Heath got it right.   It's interesting to see how many posters think there are no real problems for the GOP.

Spot on.

The GOP is killing itself with it's very unpopular economic policy positions. Yet it sticks to it's guns as it gets mowed down. The party has been taken over by some rather inflexible ideologues who care more about their theories than about what happens in the real world.



It is NPR.

On the other hand, the WSJ has conducted polls showing that the majority of Republicans are skeptical of free trade.




"Six in 10 Republicans in the poll agreed with a statement that free trade has been bad for the U.S. and said they would agree with a Republican candidate who favored tougher regulations to limit foreign imports."