May 10, 2006

Who are the Republicans?

from - RSA

I've been reading the polls recently on Bush's approval ratings. Here's a sample:

Mr. Bush is even losing support from what has been his base: 51 percent of conservatives and 69 percent of Republicans approve of the way Mr. Bush is handling his job. In both cases, those figures are a substantial drop in support from four months ago.

Here's what I don't understand: My impression has been that Bush's Republican base is conservatives of one stripe or another. And yet self-identified conservatives are less approving of Bush than generic Republicans. What does this suggest? If conservatives are a subset of Republicans, then taking some proportion of conservatives out of the approval column leaves more liberal (on an artificial conservative-to-liberal scale) Republicans still supporting Bush. Can this be right? This would mean a kind of upside down U-shaped approval curve for Bush: higher in the middle, and lower on both ends. Certainly people disapprove of Bush for different reasons, and so there's no reason to expect liberals and conservatives taking up common cause against Bush, but it does seem to pose a difficult political problem for him. The strategy of tacking to the middle will not work, because he'll lose more conservatives, while the strategy of moving hard to the right means moving very hard, to capture the extremists, which is likely to turn off moderate Republicans.

Disclaimer: I am not a political strategist.

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Posted by RSA at May 10, 2006 01:46 PM
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