Republicans Don't Like the Republican Party

New polls show that Republicans aren't enamored with their own party.

By + More

You know who doesn't seem to like the Republican Party very much? Republicans.

A couple of new polls were released today which in part detailed voter dissatisfaction with the GOP and its roots. First up is a Washington Post-ABC News poll that asked Republicans and GOP-leaning independents whether the party is on the right or wrong track. An astounding 52 percent of Republicans see their party as being on the wrong track, while only 37 percent see it as on the right one. By contrast, Democrats have a net favorable view of their party, with the favorable/unfavorable split at 72-21.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Republican Party.]

Similarly, a new survey from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for Stan Greenberg and James Carville's Democracy Corps showed that Democrats are happier with their party than GOPers. The Greenberg poll finds 79 percent of Democrats have a "warm, favorable" feeling about their party as opposed to 11 percent with a "cold, unfavorable feeling," while 63 percent of Republicans have a warm feeling for their party against 23 percent with a cold feeling. "One of the things that emerges here is how negative Republicans are about their own party," Greenberg told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast this morning.

Greenberg's poll sketches out some of the party's fault lines, identifying key elements of the GOP coalition and repeatedly noting where the sizable chunk of moderate GOP voters (25 percent of the party) is often at odds with the more dominant evangelicals (30 percent) and tea party supporters (22 percent), as well as true independents (people who don't lean toward one party or the other). So, for example, 85 percent of evangelical Republicans and 93 percent of tea party-supporting Republicans "strongly disapprove" of President Obama, while only 54 percent of moderate Republicans do and 40 percent of independents.

Or while 82 percent of the evangelical Republicans are "strongly" unfavorable of gay marriage, only 37 percent of moderate Republicans and 29 percent of independents feel that way. And while 64 percent of evangelicals and 58 percent of tea party Republicans are "strongly favorable" toward pro-life groups, only 24 percent of moderate Republicans and 17 percent of independents agree. Or while 71 percent of tea party supporting Republicans feel strongly favorable toward the NRA, only 34 percent of moderate GOPers and a like number of independents feel that way.

[Read the U.S. News Debate: Is the GOP's Problem in its Strategies or its Policies?]

Perhaps most tellingly, only half of self-described moderate Republicans said that they mostly vote for the GOP, as compared to 82 percent of evangelical Republicans and 90 percent of tea party Republicans.

So it seems fair to assume that some level of the internal GOP dissatisfaction comes from these Republican moderates who are out of step with their party and are a sizable enough chunk for it to register in polls, but not sizable enough to take control.

I think there's another factor at work, however: Republicans don't like the party because Republicans don't like the party. Take the two sides struggling for control over the party's direction: The very conservative evangelical-tea party faction that seems most intent on enforcing philosophical purity through primaries and the alliance of moderates and conservative pragmatists who look at demographics and look at the gap between swing voters and conservatives and worry about how the GOP is going to win a national election again.

On the one hand you have moderates and pragmatists unhappy with the direction of the party, either because they disagree with the dominant ideology or – in the case of pragmatic conservatives – the way it's being packaged. On the other hand, you have unreconstructed ideological conservatives who dominate the party but also endlessly warn themselves and their allies about how its "establishment" can't be trusted, must be purged and is composed entirely of "squishes" intent on capitulating to President Obama's authoritarian encroachments.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Congress.]

One side, in other words, sees the GOP for what it is and hates it and the other sees what they need it to be – an establishment straw man ready to betray the glorious conservative revolution – and also hates it.

No wonder Republicans don't like the Republican Party.

Updated 7/25/13: A new CBS News poll gives more data about the GOP's negative view of itself. According to the survey, Democratic voters are generally pleased with lawmakers in their party, with 61 percent approving of the job they're doing and 33 percent disapproving; but Republicans take a sharply dimmer view of their own legislators. Only 40 percent of Republicans approve of GOP lawmakers while 56 percent disapprove.

  • Read Susan Milligan: What Congress Can Learn From the British Royal Family
  • Read Peter Roff: States With Republican Governors Lead in Job Creation and Growth
  • Check out U.S. News Weekly, now available on iPad