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Republicans today find themselves in a leaderless party that lacks both direction and a unifying philosophy.
Members of the party of the elephant are unhappy with their current leadership and want to return to tried-and-true GOP themes and “traditional American values,” which they feel President Barack Obama and Democrats lack.
But they are not sure how to reach those goals or what central theme should be deployed to utilize a fractured party.
The Republican rank and file is largely in sync with GOP lawmakers in their staunch opposition to efforts by President Obama and Democrats to enact major health-care legislation, but a new Washington Post poll also reveals deep dissatisfaction among GOP voters with the party’s leadership as well as ideological and generational differences that may prove big obstacles to the party’s plans for reclaiming power.
Republicans and GOP-leaning independents are overwhelmingly negative about Obama and the Democratic Party more broadly, with nearly all dissatisfied with the administration’s policies and almost half saying they are “angry” about them. About three-quarters have a more basic complaint, saying Obama does not stand for “traditional American values.” More than eight in 10 say there is no chance they would support his reelection.
But for all the talk among Republican elected officials about a nascent comeback after gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey this month, there is also broad frustration among Republican voters about the party’s direction, detachment from its congressional representatives and a schism over its priorities.
Fewer than half of the Republicans and Republican-leaners surveyed by The Washington Post see the party’s leadership as taking the GOP in the “right direction,” down sharply from this time four years ago. About four in 10 are dissatisfied with the policy proposals being offered by congressional Republicans, and similar numbers see the current crop of GOP legislators as out of touch with their problems and personal values. Nearly a third say the Republicans in Congress are not standing up for the party’s core values.
This portrait of how Republicans see their party is part of an ongoing series of stories examining the GOP at the midpoint between its disastrous losses in the 2006 and 2008 elections, and the midterm elections in 2010 and the 2012 presidential contest. The findings are based on a national survey of 1,306 adults, including additional interviews with Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and a set of focus groups in Arapahoe County, Colo., a GOP-leaning county that Obama carried handily in 2008.