The report highlights fissures under the Republican big tent on a host of issues. In many cases, the dividing lines are not necessarily new. But several of the areas which Republicans are most torn about have moved to the front burner because of Trump's disruptive campaign and presidency, from trade to immigration and America's role in the world.
Based on in-depth interviews with more than 5,000 American adults, the nonpartisan group divided everyone across the political spectrum into eight groups, along with a ninth group of politically disengaged "Bystanders." (That is a giant sample, and the methodology is airtight.)
Pew's typology studies, which it has conducted since the 1980s, are always a treat to read because they include a delicious trove of data to feast on. But they are expensive to conduct, so the last one came out in 2014. That's only three years, but it feels like a generation ago: before Donald.
-- Pew identifies four distinct GOP factions:
Core Conservatives, about 15 percent of all registered voters, are what we think of as traditional Republicans. They overwhelmingly support smaller government, lower corporate tax rates and believe the economic system is fundamentally fair. Seven in 10 express a positive view of U.S. involvement in the global economy "because it provides the U.S. with new markets and opportunities for growth."
You might call this group the Jeff Flake Republicans. Flake grew up on a ranch that depended on the labor of undocumented immigrants, who he came to deeply respect as human beings. He was a Mormon missionary in South Africa, which made him worldly. As an ideological heir to Barry Goldwater and a devotee of Milton Friedman, he's a devoted free trader who has unabashedly embraced the "globalist" label to describe himself.
Country First Conservatives, a much smaller segment of the GOP base (7 percent of all registered voters), are older and less educated. They feel the country is broken, blame immigrants for that and largely think the U.S. should withdraw from the world. Nearly two-thirds agree with the statement that, "If America is too open to people from all over the world, we risk losing our identity as a nation."
Market Skeptic Republicans (12 percent of registered voters), leery of big business and free trade, believe the system is rigged against them. Just one-third of this group believes banks and other financial institutions have a positive effect on the way things are going in the country, and 94 percent say the economic system unfairly favors powerful interests. Most of them want to raise corporate taxes, and only half believe GOP leaders care about the middle class. They generally view immigrants negatively, they're not too focused on foreign affairs and they're less socially conservative than the first two groups.
New Era Enterprisers, the fourth group, are the opposite. They account for about 11 percent of registered voters: They're younger, more diverse and more bullish about America's future. They support business and believe welcoming immigrants makes the country stronger.
-- Core Conservatives are the biggest faction in the party, but they have historically punched above their weight because people in this category are more engaged with politics, more likely to vote and more likely to keep up with current events. (They also make up the lion's share of the donor class, so politicians have another incentive to cater to their interests.)
This helps to explain why 9 in 10 Core Conservatives say the Republican Party represents their values very or somewhat well, compared to only 3 in 4 Country First Conservatives and 6 in 10 Market Skeptic Republicans.
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