Coalition By The Numbers

There’s been a lot of talk in the comments about how Republicans need to do this or that so that their political outlook will match up perfectly with whatever pet issues the commenter finds appealing.  This is no way to build a coalition.  The question at hand is what the Republican coalition looks like now, and how to build it back to a majority coalition.  Right now, the Republican Party is a coalition of:

  1. Religious and value voters
  2. Nationalist conservatives, or national greatness conservatives
  3. Sportsmen
  4. Fiscal conservatives who want smaller government.

Each of these categories is, itself, contain a bunch of subcoalitions.  But these are the basic categories I’ll enumerate for this exercise.  Jettison one, you no longer have a majority.  Bush essentially lost the coalition by catering heavily to 1 and 2, throwing a few bones to 3, and doing his level best to pretend 4 isn’t that important.  Bush basically cut taxes, and then told 4 to take a hike.  The other problem is that 4 are often not keen on 1’s social agenda, and many have migrated to the Democraic Party, no real bastion for 4s issues, but when 4 sees no difference between the parties, they will vote on social issues.  This is how Republicans have lost the Northeast and the coastal West.

But here’s the rub: the folks in 1 vote, in huge numbers.  Their turnout machine is unparalleled.  Mike Huckabee was a long shot, but with basically only the religious vote, he managed to take several southern states in the primaries.  John McCain is a solid 2, and for those that think paleoconservatism is the path to the future, McCain won the nomination with pretty much only the 2 vote, and enough 3 and 4 who are still left, because Romeny didn’t really inspire.  You don’t win elections without 1 and 2.  So to quote SayUncle: It’s time to put on our big boy pants, and come up with a platform that keeps the coalition together.

The religious voters in the Republican party need to understand that they live in a secular country, and that younger voters aren’t as religious as their parents.  Those are just the breaks.  You can’t legislate your way out of that.  Amending constitutions isn’t going to fix it.  But by the same token, the 2s, 3s, and 4s of the coalition need to accept some value issues in the Republican platform in order to get the religious vote to turn out and work for the coalition.  If the 4s want to build a coalition without 1s, they have to create a turnout machine that surpasses that of the religious vote.  Unfortunately, that requires more work than most 4s are willing to put in.

Once you get involved in electoral politics, it becomes readily apparently why libertarians have no seat at the table: they don’t bring anything to it.  That’s what has to change if they want a bigger voice.

25 thoughts on “Coalition By The Numbers”

  1. First does the Republican party want to stay with those 4 groups or does it want to regroup with other groups. I don’t see how it can be a winner without 1 and 2 though for a while. You have to build new political machines and that takes time to do.

    The other issue with 1 is that they are very fickle and will either turn out for you or will just stay home. Though, I do think you can reach them if you can align your core values with them even if the platform isn’t 100% what they want.

    I think a large part of a new coalition will be formed based on how the Democrats screw up over the next 2 years. That might let each group see that the other side is not getting them what they want and will be willing to compromise with the coalition.

  2. First, I’d disagree that 3 is part of the Republican coalition. It is a group THAT HAS voted that way in the past in national elections and its clear elements of the D coalition are hostile to 3 (whether PETA/HSUS or gun bigots) but the Rs have no lock on 3, not with Ds such as Peterson and Tester and Feingold and Richardson and all those newly elected PRO GUN swing district Ds.

    And that’s one of the big problems. 1/4 of the coalition can be nullified (which, as gun nuts is a victory in that everyone wants to be our friend) while #1 and #4 are often times mutually exclusive.

    Democrats have their own problems, but for now have figured out a way to overcome them in the face of corrupt and incompetant Republican leadership.

  3. The uniting factor of those constituencies is big-F Freedom. Lots of agnostics in the Libertarian camp keep spouting off epithets about religious conservatives being in favor of some sort of theocracy, but that’s just baloney. Religious freedom is the core value of that block.

    Alienate your allies, if you want to stay pure.

  4. What moderate Rs don’t seem to have figured out when they say the 1s have no place to go, the 1s have, and will continue to, just stay home when faced with two candidates that don’t share their values.

    Countertop makes a good point that the 3s will vote for a Dem when they are secure in the belief the Dem is not going to vote against their gun rights. Warner and Shuler are good examples (though I for one think that the jury is still out on Warner). 3s will believe they can vote on the other issues that are important to them (i.e. the economy this year).

    Sandy Froman made a good point in her Rocky Mountain Times article on Sunday – that gun voters need to think about the long term when casting their vote. The economy will go up and down with the business cycle but court appointments are for a lifetime.

    We have to pray that the five who voted in the majority on Heller will stay on the court the next 4 (or God fordid if Obama serves two terms – 8 years) or the Heller decision could become a footnote because any follow up case that could strengthen the decision could go the other way.

  5. From one who is all four:

    1. Religious and value voters

    This group is so misunderstood, even by those within it. It is also very diverse. Likewise, it also feels very taken advantage of and scape-goated. (There are two entities the “Left” blames every problem on. The first is GWB, and the second the “Religious Right”.

    2. Nationalist conservatives, or national greatness conservatives

    This group needs to change it’s theme a tad. We need to embrace the “I have a dream!” element. America is great, not sinless. I think this group when it votes will vote for the guy who is patriotic.

    3. Sportsmen

    Honestly, I see moderate influence from this category. Biggest presence being the NRA and 2nd Amendment. But it’s a group that seldom gets in the spotlight. Probably because it’s a group that is largely working class blue & white collar, who are out sportsmening on their free time.

    But I think one are that this group could lend a helping hand is to begin changing the image of the Republican Party to a greener image. To be more vocal about the land conservation and management.

    4. Fiscal conservatives who want smaller government.

    A lot of these were vocal in this election. However, only one candidate really stood on that topic. Ron Paul… and the Republican party snuffed Paul’s followers by refusing Ron Paul in the debates (even though he was doing much better than the likes of Rudy Guiliani and others).

    We also have a very very broken primary system. McCain won because he was the moderate. He got the moderate Republican vote. Meanwhile the various conservative votes were distributed across Romney, Huckabee, Paul, Thompson, etc.

    And a lot of Republicans, like myself, feel very very burned. Pennsylvania did not have ANY say in the primary. Why should I remain in a party? I could probably be more influential on other voters if I wasn’t registered “R”.

    The Republicans have some major damage control…and I think they’re going to blow it by moving farther to the left.

    And I know a lot of people claim Bush blew it by catering to #1, Religious Right. But how? In what way? Sure, the RR was responsible for him getting elected. But I didn’t see much catering. In fact, I’d say this is mainly a fabricated myth on the part of the Liberal left to cause more stigma.

    Look at the recent “gay marriage” propositions. Most passed. But look at the election polls. Democrats had far higher turnouts. If you had 70%+ voting for these measures. And 60%+ of voters were Democrats. You can’t blame that just on the Religious Right. But it will be…

    “If the 4s want to build a coalition without 1s, they have to create a turnout machine that surpasses that of the religious vote. Unfortunately, that requires more work than most 4s are willing to put in.”

    Rather, there are alternatives. I’ll use the homosexual marriage issue stated above. What solution do you use? Constitutional Amendments are stupid and will eventually just be repealed. They cause more fervent opposition and are a losing battle.

    So attack it from a different angle. Why do I need a license from the government to get married? (In fact, not only are homosexuals prohibited from marriage, but so are certain religious groups prohibited from their idea’s of married – muslims believe in up to four wives, that’s restricted as well.)

    Let’s break the civil from the religious. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to the Lord what is the Lord’s. Separate church and state. You no longer need a license to be married. There is no box for taxes for marriage. No civil role in marriage what-so-ever.

    Instead, offer incorporation of households. This would account for taxes, insurance, inheritance, etc. And these would be different than civil unions because they would not be defined by marriage. In fact, two elderly sisters could file as an incorporated household. Children would be listed too. That would become your household entity.

    Meanwhile, marriage would be handled by whatever institution of faith or tradition you adhere to. Likewise, marriages would only be recognized by those institutions that hold like beliefs. No one would be restricted in marrying, but no one would be forced to recognize a marriage outside of their beliefs either.

    This is the only fair and winnable solution in the long run. And it preserves the sanctity of marriage.


    The Republican Party, or actually even more valid, Conservatives…need to re-evaluate their strategy. Stop wasting money and political power on non-winnable objectives. And focus on the battles that are winnable.

    This may mean some compromise. It also may simply mean a new tactic and presentation. How the question is asked, and what the available options are to answer can change the results greatly.

    – N.U.G.U.N.

  6. I think getting Republicans to act more like republicans would be the best way to make everybody happy. A serious push towards decentralizing government and returning powers and flexibility to the several States is what libertarians can and should bring to the table.

    We just need to convince the value voter types across the country that it will be much easier for them to get values-y things done in their own communities if they don’t have to fight California or whatever every step of the way. And, in reverse, we might even make inroads into New England and the West Coast with the prospect of not having to fight on the Federal stage to live how they want to.

    To sell this to the general public, independents, and the Republican party (again..), we could focus on terms and buzzwords like accountability, autonomy, and (to hijack the left) community. It’s much easier to get things done at the State and local level than it is to argue with people on the other side of the country. And it’s obviously easier for people to hold their own State’s legislature accountable for things than it is to fire representatives in another State.

    Getting fiscal cons and hawks back on board should be easy. More State power should mean less Federal spending. Less monkeying with everything else should mean more time and energy to spend on defense.

  7. Errr, you’re forgetting a very important group that’s somewhat distinct from 4: businesses and businessmen and the workers who are close to them (e.g. in a lot of smaller companies). E.g. Bush the father did himself no good by going after “pillar of the community” S&L board members with a rusty knife (our hero from It’s a Wonderful Life would be a felon in real life), when government malfeasance (inflation more than anything else) had the most to do with their problems.

    What was “Joe the Plumber” all about except entrepreneurialism? Why does the US create jobs, while Western Europe tend to create huge (in comparison to their GDPs) companies. Socialists like stability, not “cowboy capitalism” red of tooth and claw.

    The Democrats are the party of billionaires, especially ones like Buffet and Bill Gates who want to pull up the ladder after them (let’s leave Wall Street to the side for the moment, which isn’t strongly for either party as far as I can tell, e.g. don’t forget Robert Rubin of Goldman Sachs and the Clinton Administration).

    What’s the party of medium and small businesses? Aside from tax cuts and reigning in the regulatory state a small bit, what did GHW Bush do for them?

    Have you looked at the BATFE’s new redefinition of who’s a gun “manufacturer” needing that expensive variety of FFL and all the paperwork? Etc. etc.

    (Full disclosure: my father’s one of these small businessmen and I’ve been reading The Wall Street Journal since third grade, although I ended up being a software and systems engineer, but often in small or startup companies.)

  8. I would include those in 4 for the purposes of this exercise.


    When I said “bring to the table” I meant the two main things politicians care about — money and votes. Libertarians can bring money — Ron Paul showed that. Libertarians can’t bring votes — Ron Paul also showed that. It’s about more than ideas. Everyone has ideas.

  9. “I meant the two main things politicians care about — money and votes.”

    Sure. But I’m proposing that if we can get convince group 1 to back off a bit from using the Federal stage to promote value issues, that it would deliver votes.

    Just think of all the moderates and independents out there who wish both sides didn’t appear so eager to tell them and their State how to live. Were the Republicans to get out of the Federal social engineering business (or at the very least, dial back the rhetoric), it would attract them.

    While there may not be much of a completely libertarian constituency waiting to be tapped, there’s gotta be a sizable chunk of the populace who don’t want the Feds telling them how to think and feel.

  10. Convince group 1 to back off? What are you even talking about? Please spare me the typical anti-Christian bigotry. The imagined nanny-state value voters do not exist. Recent activity has been limited to local ordinances only, and those — gay marriage bans for instance — have been in defense of religious freedom.

    Stop watching MSNBC. It’s rotting your brain.

  11. I fit in several of the categories, probably all of them. They all seem to have one big thing in common: less intrusive government. 1’s would feel pretty good if the government would just leave them alone. 2’s would feel pretty good if the government stuck to national defense and got out of the social engineering business. 3’s would like the government to back away from trying to control their guns and stick by what the Constitution actually says. 4’s are defined by less government interference.

    The only sticking point for 1’s is likely to be abortion. Since we believe that killing a child a month or two before she is born is no different than killing her a month or two after, we are pretty well going to insist on that one. The libertarians might have a problem with an anti-abortion in a perfect world, but if they take a good look, they should have no more problem with it than they do with laws against infanticide.

  12. I agree with the “Republicans act more like Republicans” comment. By that I mean the Buckley/Reagan republicans. The Republicans that Buckley was speaking of when he spoke of how much time he spent separating the “right from the kooks.”

    I’m one of those that thinks the Republican/Conservative party has been run by and for the kooks of late. Evidenced by the fact that people booed when Obama’s name was mentioned in the concession speech. No class. We castigated (rightly so) liberals who went with the “not my president” mantra, but there seems to be a bit of a different standard?

    I also think that if McCain ran a campaign that was like his concession speech(TONS of class, awesome speech, best speech by McCain during this campaign cycle, even though it ended the cycle), we might indeed have a different result. The shrill attacks on tenuous relationships, and communism/socialism, and a myriad of other boogie-man scary things just didn’t work. In fact it backfired. The folksy BS around Palin backfired. It played to the kooks. Not to cast stones, but I even felt that Snowflakes-Sebastian carried a little of that water

    I hope that we can reclaim republicanism in a Buckley-esque manner, but I fear we may move even further the other way.

  13. Let’s be clear: gay marriage is not about legislating morality. The goal is simple; give gay couples legal standing to sue Christian churches into bankruptcy. Look at the BSA, and tell me the threat isn’t real.

    Group 1 wants freedom, not control.

  14. There might be subcoalitions in 1 who are a liability and who should be jettisoned. What I’m trying to convince people is not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Those who care about the gun issue, I would encourage you to look at the Supreme Court. Who were your pro-Heller majority? Every single Roman Catholic on The Court voted in our favor. All 5 of them. We can make a winning coalition with religious voters. But we do have to look at what parts of the religious vote are a liability.

  15. The folksy BS around Palin backfired. It played to the kooks. Not to cast stones, but I even felt that Snowflakes-Sebastian carried a little of that water

    I think they handled her poorly. She has marvelous political instincts when she’s allowed to follow them, but she was brought on to rally the 1s and 3s. Again, the 4s were told to take a hike.

    For those who suggest that 1s are all for limited government, how do you explain Mike Huckabee’s very unexpected success?

  16. “Let’s be clear: gay marriage is not about legislating morality. The goal is simple; give gay couples legal standing to sue Christian churches into bankruptcy. Look at the BSA, and tell me the threat isn’t real.

    Group 1 wants freedom, not control.”

    The flaw in your argument is that any religious organization also has the same associative rights – and disassociative rights – that were upheld in the BSA decision. What “standing” to sue would someone have just because a non-governmental group (i.e. a private association) doesn’t want to be associated with someone that (for sake of argument) is doing a legal act they disagree with.

    Or, to use a comparable argument, are you saying that alcoholics currently have standing to sue the Methodists – who believe in abstaining from “adult beverages”?

  17. 1’s aren’t really for limited government. But if you show them that limited government will get the government off their back and their social issues promoted they are willing to go that route. If promoting the social issues can be done through more federal government they will go that route as well. I think the Republicans have been growing the government to appease them instead of shrinking the government and showing them how that can work.

  18. hypnagogue, I agree that churches shouldn’t be forced to do gay marriages, and going one step further, I think it’s an infringement on religious freedom to require a government license to get married in a church in the first place.

    But maybe that’s just me..

    As for there being nobody trying to legislate morality at the Federal level, yea, there’s not many, but those that do are loud. And they scare people away who might otherwise agree with the rest of the limited Federal government idea. E.G., Parents Television Council

  19. The problem with group 1 is that if you ask them in general about “legislating morality,” or basing laws off the bible, or something similar, they (most of them) are dead set against it. They look at you like you’re crazy, because the answer is just so obvious. It goes against religious freedom, right?

    But ask them about a specific law, and you get an answer that just doesn’t match that attitude. My mother is actually a good example of this. Her attitude is the same as mine – religious freedom means no one uses the government to impose their religious beliefs on someone else, so basing laws off of the bible and Christian beliefs shouldn’t be done.

    But when the state legislature was talking about making it legal to hunt on Sundays, her response was “They shouldn’t do it. People should be in church on Sunday. If they’re allowed to hunt, they’ll skip church.” Total doublethink.

    I’ve seen this from many other people as well. Marriage is just the latest “hot-button” issue to reflect it. Forty years ago it was interracial marriage and anti-miscegenation laws. Today it’s gay marriage and marriage “protection” amendments. Talk about repealing laws against selling alcohol on Sundays, and you’ll get the same reaction.

    But most of the people who think like this are quiet. The big problem is the very vocal – and visible – minority. They are the ones whose idea of religious freedom is the freedom to be whatever denomination of Christianity you want (and not even some of those). Jews and Muslims are tolerated (and not always) because they worship “the God of Abraham”. They consider everyone else to be “kooks” or “devil worshipers” who shouldn’t be allowed to practice their “false” religions anywhere someone might find out about it, they are very LOUD and very hostile about it, and they want to use government to enforce their views.

    Oh, and if (their interpretation of) the bible says it’s wrong, there should be a
    law against it, and they take advantage of the quiet ones’ tendency towards doublethink to get large groups behind them at the voting booth. Which is what really makes them dangerous.

  20. Lysander, I certainly hope that the BSA decision holds up in an Obama-appointed Court, for ministers that have accepted compensation for marriage ceremonies for non-church-members. I am not optimistic.

    ill, I can’t see how eliminating marriage licenses provides any immunity for the free exercise of religion. Get rid of the license, and it’s simply unregulated — but discrimination suits will go ahead as planned.

    Jake, perhaps you’d let “they” and “them” have a chance at a rebuttal? Oh, right… just a bigoted diatribe against a straw-man stereotype. Noted.

  21. hypnagogue, my point wasn’t that a lack of licensing would provide immunity, just that it seems insane to me that one must ask for permission from the state before performing a religious ceremony. Not to mention the whole freedom of assembly/association thing.

    But now that you mention it, maybe it would be a bit harder for anyone to play the discrimination/14A card if marriages weren’t essentially sanctioned by the state? At any rate, it will probably take a bit more than just defining marriage to withstand the coming wave of PC madness which has spread over Europe and Canada. Despite being a godless heathen, it scares me that they’re able to make it a “hate crime” to have religious beliefs. Next stop after that is making it a crime to not worship at the alter of state.

    As such, the ongoing fight for religious freedom has my support. But as a libertarian, I’m just hoping for a method which is a restriction on government/courts (especially the Federal one), and not a regulatory stick which they could turn on either of us later. For example, if the Feds were given more power to define or regulate marriage, my worry is that a radical Congress might decide to expand the power into a licensing and centralized family planning scheme like China.

    Especially seeing as the eco-nuts think everything we do– including breathing — is somehow making the sky fall.

  22. I’m sure that Jake won’t mind winning a few elections without us hated “Christianists”…. just to show us all how it’s done?


    Like a lot of his spiritual borthers in the Democratic Party, Jake wants people of faith to donate, vote… and shut up. Sorry, Jake: Christians did more for this country and the Republican Party than you ever did.

  23. The thing I’m wondering is if there’s a candidate that can keep Ron Paul’s supporters while pulling in the rest of the 4s that didn’t vote for him because he wasn’t going to win or because they thought he was a kook. I think Ron Paul turned off a lot of people for two main reasons: isolationism and going farther with reduction of government than a lot of people believe in or are ready for.

    If a candidate appears next cycle who plans to roll back regulation, reign in government spending, make a significant tax cut, return more power to the states, and try to avoid war diplomatically but back it up with a strong military, I’ll donate the maximum and spend my free time knocking on doors and making calls. I agree with Paul almost completely, but I want to win an election and start moving this country in the right direction.

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