Jun 1, 2008

The GOP has a Republican problem

A potentially devastating new poll suggests a level of self-delusion exists within the Republican ranks, one that almost certainly spells trouble for the party come November.

Conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, the survey finds voters generally prefer the Democratic message over the Republican message on the Big Issues of trade, taxes, Iraq and the economy. A more troubling finding for the GOP is that when the messages are delivered without party labels attached, not only does voter preference for the Democrat message increase but Republican voters prefer it to what their own party is selling.

Take tax policy, for example: 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.

In other words, the RINOs outnumber the true believers. This helps explains why John McCain is the Republican nominee and why the main line of attack against Barack Obama is on patriotism and personal belief, rather than on policy.

Democrats now own the Big Tent. McCain could be torn apart by this ideological fissure, which can no longer be stitched together with a single-issue campaign on abortion or gay marriage.

This poll also suggests the short-sighted Republican politics of the 1990s - a radicalized version of the Reagan doctrine heavily salted with moral outrage at a cartoon version of 1970s liberalism - is coming to an end. Ideologically shallow and static, the values crusade left the party incapable of adapting to cultural and generational shifts. Southern Strategy, greed capitalism and country club demographics are starting to stink like a rest home.

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