Republican voters are deeply resentful of President Obama, extremely anxious about social trends in the United States, and fearful that the GOP's future is bleak, according to a new study.
Republicans believe that Obama, by increasing the size and reach of government, has been "building dependent minorities that will give the Democrats a governing majority," the study says. "They are very conscious of being white in a country that is increasingly minority – as Democrats use government to build dependency and therefore also their support with minorities. The race issue [is] very much alive."
The study is based on six focus groups conducted by Democracy Corps, a Democrat-oriented research firm. In a memo to reporters, three leaders of the firm, Stan Greenberg, James Carville and Erica Seifert, say, "You can't understand the government shutdown [that started Tuesday] unless you understand the GOP from the inside. They think they are losing ground and Obama has won his socialist agenda."
The Democracy Corps analysis also says, "Obamacare [the president's health care law] is the end game for Republicans: Democrats have already built constituencies of dependence based on welfare, unemployment insurance, food stamps, and illegal immigrants. Now add to that the uninsured."
This GOP attitude helps explain the refusal of majority House Republicans to give up their goal of defunding or severely restricting the health care law. They say they won't continue funding the overall government unless the health care law is starved of money or severely limited, and this has resulted in the shutdown and a confrontation with the White House and Democratic majority in the Senate.
The study also finds that, "For evangelicals, homosexuality is the defining issue and threat. Evangelicals and tea party dominate the party – making up more than half of all Republicans. They are both cheered by the tea party (despite the fact that non-evangelical tea party adherents are social libertarians) because the tea party will stand up to Obama, Democrats, and RINOs [Republicans In Name Only] in the Republican Party."
The study finds that moderates constitute a quarter of the GOP, and they are "centrally focused on market-based economics, small government, and eliminating waste and inefficiency." They are "largely open to progressive social policies, including on gay marriage and immigration," the study says. "They disdain the tea party and have a hard time taking Fox News seriously."
Members of the Republican base "think they face a victorious Democratic party that is intent on expanding government to increase dependency and therefore electoral support," the Democracy Corps study concludes.
"It starts with food stamps and unemployment benefits; expands further if you legalize the illegals; but insuring the uninsured dramatically grows those dependent on government. They believe this is an electoral strategy – not just a political ideology or economic philosophy. If Obamacare happens, the Republican party may be lost, in their view."
Republicans in the focus groups had very negative opinions of President Obama. Asked to describe him, the first word that came to mind to many participants was "liar." He was described as a politician who has "fooled and manipulated the public" to push through a socialist agenda, the Democracy Corps analysis says.
The results are based on six focus groups conducted among Republicans during the past two months in Raleigh, N.C.; Roanoke, Va.; and Colorado Springs, Colo.
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Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com and "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership." Ken Walsh can be reached at email@example.com and on Facebook and Twitter.