A reminder: "true conservatives" are rare in the electorate
January 3, 2016
I've been slow to update the blog lately; more pressing concerns and deadlines have taken priority. I expect to have reason to post more in the weeks ahead, especially after Right-Wing Critics is released.
In any event, I just wanted to make a brief point that seems to get neglected in some of the discussions I've heard about the approaching presidential primaries.
On social media I am connected to many people who are fully invested in the conservative movement. They read its major publications. They give money to it. Many make their careers working for the movement. One perennial complaint (and one not limited to this year), is that someone is unfit to win the Republican nomination because he is insufficiently conservative -- this has been said of Trump, but also of Rubio and some others. A lack of conservative bona fides is supposedly a deal-breaker for Republican primary voters.
The reality is that "true conservatives" -- in the sense that they consistently support tax cuts and limited government, traditional social values, and an aggressive foreign policy -- are very rare in the electorate, even if you restrict your sample to self-identified Republicans.
At some later date, I will probably dig through these numbers and post them. But a few weeks ago I did take a quick look at the 2012 ANES to see how many Republicans hold consistent, across the board conservative views. I looked at issues like taxes, abortion, foreign policy, etc. While it is true that Republicans, on average, gave more conservative responses than others, very few were consistent conservatives. In fact, I believe it was well under ten percent of Republicans (sorry for not having these numbers in front of me at the moment).
I was actually surprised at the number of Republicans who supported new taxes. There is actually strong support among Republicans for new taxes on millionaires and corporations.
Anyway, that does not mean that such policies are good or bad -- I have my opinions, but they are not relevant here. But I do want to remind people that a candidate who is a consistent die-hard conservative on all issues will not just be at odds with the overall electorate; he or she will also disagree with a majority of Republicans. FWIW.