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The poll went back to a question asked in 1949, after Republicans lost five straight elections, tweaking it slightly to fit the situation today:
Q: There are two different points of view as to why the Republican Party has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. Which of these two views do you, yourself, think is more nearly right…
One group holds that the Republican Party is too conservative and needs a program concerned more directly with the welfare of the people, particularly those in the lower and middle income levels.
The other group says that the policies of the Republican Party are good–but the party needs a better leader to explain and win support for these policies.
So that's 53 percent of people saying that the Republican party is too conservative and not concerned enough with lower- and middle-income people. Just 27 percent of Republicans agree, though, bolstering party leadership in its refusal to change.
Meanwhile, congressional Republicans are in a high-profile fight to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and protect tax breaks for wealthy people. And doing those things just a little isn't enough for them—they're going big or, as Thursday night, going home. Republicans are settling in for a fight that will damage their party brand still further; the question is how much they'll manage to hurt the United States along the way.