My feelings about the Republican Party are almost exactly the same as Stephen's. I am reminded that Ronald Reagan always said that he never left the Democratic Party; it left him. I feel the same way. I haven't changed my philosophical views in any significant way over the last 10 years, but in the pre-Bush era I felt comfortable in the Republican mainstream. Today, I don't really feel there is any significant element of the Republican coalition where I am comfortable.
This gives me an opportunity to call attention to a poll of Republican voters that hasn't gotten much attention. Conducted by Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio, it looks at the composition of the Republican Party in 1997 and 2007 using a large sample of self-identified Republicans. Among the interesting results are these.
- The party is more conservative; that is more Republicans identify themselves as conservatives. And the increase is dramatic. In 1997, 55 percent of Republicans called themselves conservative; today 71 percent describe themselves that way. Those calling themselves liberal have fallen from 11 percent to 4 percent, and self-described moderates have fallen from 31 percent to 21 percent.
- In 1997, about half of Republicans said their main concerns were social/cultural and half were mainly concerned with economics, about half being "supply siders" and half being "deficit hawks." Today, only 16 percent of Republicans are primarily concerned with economic issues. About half are still mainly concerned with social/cultural issues, but now more than a quarter of Republicans are primarily concerned with defense and foreign policy. Of this group, the bulk are strong hawks that support the war in Iraq without reservation.
There are many other interesting results in the survey and I urge people to read it for themselves. What mostly comes across to me is that it documents my feeling that the party has changed around me more than I have changed. The wing of the party to which I belong--the supply-side/free market wing--has shrunk dramatically. At this rate, Larry Kudlow will be the last one in another few years.
Unfortunately, I am not aware of a similar analysis of the Democratic Party or the large and growing population of political independents. I suspect that the composition of these groups has also changed, probably in ways that mirror the Republican changes.
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