|| by Will Galloway ||
Columbia- There is not one Republican party. There are, in fact, four. At this point, the Republican Primary election cannot be fully understood by polling. A much more accurate way to understand the election is by understanding the electorate itself.
The first Republican party is the loyalists. The loyalists are generally conservative, but favor electability over ideology. They consider themselves members of the GOP, not just associates. They are usually involved in their local republican party organization, and may even hold local office themselves. Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich, and to an extent Marco Rubio, pull from this category. This group doesn’t see compromise as a dirty word, so much as an acceptable means to an end. They focus mostly on economic issues, and shy away from social issues, which they see as caustic wedge issues.
Ideologues constitute the second Republican party. These are the tea-partiers and movement conservatives. They are the behind Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, and Ben Carson. They believe their candidate could win, but don’t focus on this. They support the candidate they believe will best advance the conservative movement. The are are usually involved in Tea Party or John Birch Society type organizations. They loathe compromise and any perceived political correctness as well as the mainstream media. They are dedicated to their candidate to the finish, whether they drop out or win it all.
The third group is the populists. Populists constitute the base of support for Trump, Fiorina, Huckabee, and Santorum. They are against all three of the “Bigs”, big government, big business, and big labor. These are usually white, working class voters. They’re anti NAFTA/CAFTA/TPP, probably favor raising the minimum wage a little, tend to be more religious, and they don’t trust government or business (it’s interesting, therefore, that two of the populist candidates are businesspeople).
The fourth and final group is the eclectics. These are the libertarians, foreign policy hawks, centrists, and single-issue voters that hold up the campaigns of Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham, and George Pataki. They care passionately about a set of issues, so much so that they’re willing to support a hopeless campaign to advance them. They are large enough in number to be an annoyance, but too small to do any real damage to the election process (think Ron Paul 2012).