The Four Faces of the Republican Party

by Dr. Ed Berry

Henry Olsen of the Ethics and Public Policy Center wrote an insightful article “The Four Faces of the Republican Party” in February 2014. His review of the national Republican Party helps us understand the Montana Republican Party.

According to Olsen, Republicans fall into “four rough camps,” with approximate composition shown in parentheses:

  1. Somewhat Conservative (40%)
  2. Moderate to Liberal (30%)
  3. Very Conservative but Secular (10%)
  4. Very Conservative Evangelical (20%)

While the group percentages vary slightly among the states, they have been very consistent over many presidential elections. Each group supports very different types of candidates.

Somewhat Conservatives are not vocal but always back the winner. They like cautious conservatives and don’t like radicals. Their likely presidential candidates in 2016 are Christy, Paul Ryan, Jeb Bush, and Scott Walker.

Moderates to Liberals prefer secular, less fiscally-concerned conservatives. They oppose overtly religious candidates. If their candidate is weak, they will back the Somewhat Conservatives candidate. In 2012, they backed Ron Paul until it became clear he could not win. Kasich may be their man in 2016.

Very Conservative Evangelicals are the most motivated to turn out and this gives them more political power than their numbers indicate. Olsen writes, they prefer candidates “who are very open about their religious beliefs, place a high priority on social issues such as gay marriage and abortion, and see the United States in decline because of its movement away from the faith and moral codes of its past.”

Very Conservative Evangelicals are out of line with the center of the Republican Party. They are pessimists who see America in decline. They view the glass as half empty rather than half full. They are the only group that does not regularly default to the Somewhat Conservatives‘ candidate when their Evangelical candidate falls behind. They supported Keyes and Bauer. Their likely candidates in 2016 are Cruz, Carson, Santorum, and Huckabee.

Very Conservative but Seculars like urbane, fiscally oriented men. When their candidate loses ground they will back the Somewhat Conservatives candidate. Their candidates were Kemp, Forbes, Gramm, and Romney.

(For fair disclosure, I am in the Very conservative but Secular and secondly in the Somewhat Conservatives.)

Very Conservative Evangelical candidates cannot win a key nomination since 80 percent of Republicans are against overtly religious candidates.

Evangelical connection with Tea Party

Very Conservative Evangelicals dominate the Tea Party.

Bruce Prescott, minister author of the “Mainstream Baptist” blog, says Conservative Evangelicals and Southern Baptists drive the Tea Party movement.

Pew Research Center 2012 polls show Tea Party supporters “draw disproportionate support from the ranks of white evangelical Protestants” who “are roughly five times as likely to agree with the [Tea Party] movement as to disagree with it.”

Other Republicans may support Tea Party goals but, as Olsen has shown, these other Republicans choose different candidates to achieve their goals than do the Very Conservative Evangelicals.

Before 2014, there was talk of the Tea Party “taking over” the Republican Party. New data show this is not happening.

Henry Olsen reviewed the seeming progress of the populist conservative Tea Party in 2014 and finds the Tea Party has not made the Republican Party more conservative. He wrote,

2012 candidates who banked on a change of the GOP electoral map were thus cruelly disappointed.

Tea Party candidates fared much worse in multicandidate races. In presidential contests, multicandidate races are the norm until well into March, suggesting a Tea Party candidate will find it difficult to win in the early stages.

In summary, while Very Conservative Evangelicals dominate those who support Tea Party goals, they still represent only about 20 percent of Republican voters.

The political origin of Compact opponents.

Opponents of the CSKT Water Compact come mainly from Montana’s Very Conservative Evangelicals and those who like doomsday conspiracy theories. They are only 20 percent of Montana’s Republican Party.

Very Conservative Evangelicals supported Ken Miller in his futile 2012 primary bid for governor because his “moral compass” image fit their addiction to overtly religious Christian candidates. The primary votes for Miller, plus the few extremist Tea Party votes for Fanning, show the 20 percent of Republican votes expected of Montana’s Very Conservative Evangelical Republicans.

Very Conservative Evangelicals supported Matt Rosendale in his doomed 2014 primary bid for US Congress because his “drone shooter” image fit their obsession with anti-government conspiracy theories. Rosendale picked up more than the Evangelical vote in 2014 but not enough to get close to Zinke because Rosendale’s “drone shooter” image became a brick wall to gathering more votes.

The Very Conservative Evangelicals who oppose the Compact have a penchant for promoting and sometimes achieving the exact opposite political result of their claimed political goals. Little did Rosendale realize his “drone shooter” image turned off the dominant “faces” of the Republican Party giving him no chance to win his primary election.

Appropriate to their Very Conservative Evangelical image, Miller and Rosendale are against the Compact. Their supporters are a large percentage of those who oppose the Compact.

Although Conservative Evangelicals are more politically active than the other “faces” of the Republican Party, they sabotage their political influence when they do not support Republican nominees.

When neither Ken Miller nor Matt Rosendale would support Ryan Zinke after he won the 2014 primary election, they further alienated themselves and their Very Conservative Evangelical supporters from the other Republican groups.

Non Evangelicals “are not good enough” for them. 

This fundamental political mantra identifies the Very Conservative Evangelicals and Libertarian voters:

The Voting Mantra: “A vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil.

This mantra is logically, morally, and ethically wrong, and those who follow this faulty mantra achieve the opposite of their stated goals.

The Unholy Trinity who promote this false mantra are:

  • Chuck Baldwin, Liberty Fellowship Pastor and Oath Keepers National Chaplain
  • Stewart Rhodes, Founder of Oath Keepers
  • Art Thompson, CEO of the John Birch Society

Stewart Rhodes is the charismatic Executive Director of Oath Keepers and a former Mormon turned Evangelical. Rhodes and Baldwin moved to Montana in 2010. I have written elsewhere that any Montana politician who associates with Oath Keepers will commit political suicide.

Many Compact opponents refused to support Republican primary winners Rick Hill and Denny Rehberg because Hill and Rehberg were “not good enough” for them. They got the exact opposite of what they wanted when their Libertarian votes helped elect Steve Bullock and Jon Tester.

In October 2014, Chuck Baldwin told his followers to vote for Democrat John Lewis in the November 2014 election for US Congress because Republican candidate Ryan Zinke was “not good enough” for Chuck Baldwin but Democrat John Lewis was. Go figure. Maybe Baldwin is a closet liberal.

5 thoughts on “The Four Faces of the Republican Party”

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