The current state of the Republican party mirrors that of the Democratic party in the early 1970s. The Democratic Party at that time was perceived as the party of hippies, feminists, radicals, black panthers and other undesirebles. As the Vietnam war and counterculture movement ramped up middle class and working class whites became fed up with the democratic party. Democrat positions on Issues such as busing, patriotism, drugs and welfare were not supported by a frustrated and angry electorate. In 1972 , the democrats ran George McGovern, an anti-war candidate and unapologetic liberal on most issues except abortion. The republicans ran Richard Nixon, the "champion" of the silent majority of middle class and working class whites who were former democrats. Richard Nixon won an unprecedented( for a republican) 60.7% of the popular vote to McGovern's 37.5%. Countless working class whites and middle class whites voted agains the democrat and many union workers went for Nixon. George Meany, the afl-cio(major labor union) leader endorsed Nixon over McGovern mainly because of Mcgovern's stance on the war. McGovern represented a democratic party which had collapsed and become a faction of interest groups instead of a party with a coherent message. True democrats who had not voted for nixon were more likely to identify as a feminist, homosexual, black, hispanic or environmentalist instead of democrat. These groups responded to single issues and would not support candidates who didn't support their issue. For feminists the issue might be legalizing abortion or equal pay legislation, for blacks expansion of affirmative action, and for homosexuals marriage equality. Though the issues might have been supported by a decent portion of americans there was almost always an angry majority who opposed the programs. This group of silent, hard-working, tax paying, law-abiding americans represented a forgotten middle class who demanded 'law and order' and an end to the counterculture movements. Many surely felt their america was being taken from them by a bunch of interest groups and intellectuals. During the time period between 1972 to 2008 the democratic candidate won more than 50% of the vote once, when Jimmy Carter won 50.1% in 1976 running an anti-washington campaign. There were 3 democrat terms and 6 republican terms and from 1972 to 2012 the democrats have been unable to win 50% of the white vote once. The Democrat vote share of whites has ranged from a low of 32% for Mcgovern in 1972 to highs of 47% for Carter in 1976 and 43% for Clinton in 1996. The Democrats were forced to run away from their true base during this time period and promised an end to big government programs, overregulation and runaway government spending. Carter and Clinton(and Obama) have encouraged or at least considered deregulation and an end to big government programs while adopting republican policy ideas. However, This will likely all change over the next decade.
President Obama has fractured and defeated the republican party in the same manner Nixon fractured the democrats. The democratic party, to an extent, had fractured itself with the rise of the new politics wing of the party. The previously mentioned interest groups had grown disenfranchised with the labor union afl-cio pro vietnam base that was represented by Hubert Humphrey, Ed Muskie, and Scoop Jackson. These democrats bowed down to the labor union and business interests the same way the modern moderate republican party is controlled by wall street and corporations. The McCain and Bush wings of the party are much like the democrat establishment of the early 70s facing a revolt from the new politics wing. So who are the new politics, Hunter S. Thompson wing of the gop? None other than the tea party. Now obviously The Thompson-McGovern wing had different interests than the modern day hostage takers that represent the gop but they both represented or represent the same sort of disaffected loud minority that the public looks down upon. The Radical Christian, sexist, women's body controlling, single mom hating, libertarian, possible racist is our modern day hippie or black panther. They hold rallies with racist signs, make arrogant comments about women and gather around at meetings to yell at their moderate establishment representative who they feel doesn't care about them. Now maybe it is hard to believe that the majority of the public has turned on the tea party especially with the previous republican presidential candidate winning 48% of the vote so here is a pollster's take to reassure us
Andrew Kohut is the founding director and former president of the Pew Research Center. He served as president of the Gallup Organization from 1979 to 1989.
In my decades of polling, I recall only one moment when a party had been driven as far from the center as the Republican Party has been today.Republicans, the tea party in particular are seen as racist sexist, and too extreme in other polls and it is clear the silent majority of voters are fed up with them the same way a different silent majority viewed Mcgovern and the new politics wing of the left Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and others can be seen as modern day McGoverns minus honesty, decency, and care for the common man. The Republican tea partiers have put a face on their acid, amnesty, and abortion wing and infiltrated their party. The republicans only hope for winning elections is a right wing DLC that supports moderate solutions, tolerance on social issues and an end to interventionist foreign policies. Clinton was able to support law and order, globalization trade policies, less ambitious affirmative action policies and the safe, rare, legal position on abortions that the majority of the public supported then. The same compromises clinton made must be made by the gop whether or not that includes Obamacare and other centirst solutions. The problem for the gop, and the possible reason why they may never recover, is their unilateral opposition to obamacare along with the gop new politics wing infiltrating congress. If obamacare is not repealed republicans are going to have a tough time running against a likely popular government program and will have to embrace it something the tea party and even moderates are likely to oppose. Assuming they accept obamacare the next problem is the opposition the tea party members in congress will have to compromise on social issues and immigration. The tea party members may never support legalized abortion, gay marriage and immigration, while the establishment will. Since many of the new politics wing will sit out elections republicans may not be able to beat any democratic candidate progressive or moderate. While the Democrat Leadership Council moved the party to the right they never faced true new politics opposition in congress. There were never a hundred feminists, environmentalists, black panthers, socialists and others in congress during the 70s 80s, and 90s opposing the establishment wing of the party. The gop has a much tougher task as many in the party don't see a problem at all and believe the party should move to the right. The republicans quite possibly are in a bigger hole than the democrats in the early 70s and they don't realize it.
The outsize influence of hard-line elements in the party base is doing to the GOP what supporters of Gene McCarthy and George McGovern did to the Democratic Party in the late 1960s and early 1970s — radicalizing its image and standing in the way of its revitalization. In those years, the Democratic Party became labeled, to its detriment, as the party of “acid, abortion and amnesty.” With the Democrats’ values far to the left of the silent majority, McGovern lost in a landslide to Richard Nixon in 1972.
While there are no catchy phrases for the Republicans of 2013, their image problems are readily apparent in national polls. The GOP has come to be seen as the more extreme party, the side unwilling to compromise or negotiate seriously to tackle the economic turmoil that challenges the nation.
It is no surprise that even elements of the Republican leadership that had been so confident of a Mitt Romney victory — including when it was clear that he was going to lose the election — are now looking at ways to find more electable candidates and cope with the disproportionate influence of hard-liners in the GOP. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus only scratched the surface this past week when he dissected the party’s November defeat: “There’s no one reason we lost. Our message was weak; our ground game was insufficient; we weren’t inclusive; we were behind in both data and digital; and our primary and debate process needed improvement. So there’s no one solution. There’s a long list of them.”
For decades, my colleagues and I have examined the competing forces and coalitions within the two parties. In our most recent national assessments, we found not only that the percentage of people self-identifying as Republicans had hit historic lows but that within that smaller base, the traditional divides between pro-business economic conservatives and social conservatives had narrowed. There was less diversity of values within the GOP than at any time in the past quarter-century.
The party’s base is increasingly dominated by a highly energized bloc of voters with extremely conservative positions on nearly all issues: the size and role of government, foreign policy, social issues, and moral concerns. They stand with the tea party on taxes and spending and with Christian conservatives on key social questions, such as abortion rights and same-sex marriage.