Monday, October 28, 2013

GOP Civil War! Poll Shows Tea Party Disdains Religious Right


A second GOP Civil War?

You betcha.

In "GOP Civil War! Poll Shows Tea Party Disdains Religious Right," an article by Kerry Eleveld at Salon.com, the byline says it all:


"A new poll adds more heat to the GOP civil war — the Tea Party's lack of interest in the religious right's agenda.

"Remember when Evangelicals were the staple of the Republican coalition? Turn them out and you could win any national election. Well, they are fast becoming the fringe of the GOP, based on recently released research from focus groups conducted by Stan Greenberg, James Carville and Erica Seifert for Democracy Corps.

"The GOP is now roughly split into three factions: one-third Evangelical, one-quarter Tea Party and one-quarter moderates. These focus groups, which were purposely assembled homogeneously to encourage participation, were chosen because they comprise the base of the Republican Party.

"True, the Tea Party has its own goals and it’s wreaking havoc on the Republican Party and the nation. But what’s striking about the insights gleaned from the groups is that both moderate and Tea Party Republicans view the Evangelical agenda as a total distraction.

"Evangelicals are apparently beside themselves over losing the culture wars. According to the memo, they 'believe their towns, communities and schools are suffering from a deep "culture rot" that has invaded from the outside.' Their main focus is homosexuality, but they’re also concerned about the decline of small homogenous towns.

"But the Tea Party folks couldn’t care less about social issues.

"Gay marriage. Abortion. 'Who cares?' said one Tea Partier from Roanoke.

"Another Roanoke Tea Partier agreed: 'I think it’s not important.'

"A Tea Party man from Raleigh who said he didn’t support same-sex marriage also said it wasn’t the job of the government to intervene.

"'I personally don’t agree with gay marriage, but I don’t think the government should say who can get married and who can’t. It’s not their business,' he said.

"Similar to the Tea Party faction, Republican moderates also showed apprehension about the Evangelical agenda.

"'I can’t sell my kids on this party. I agree with … some of their positions. But the stupid things … for instance, the rape crap they were saying … I can’t sell them on my party,' said a Colorado man.


"'I just tend to be a little bit more moderate on social issues. However I’m a pretty staunch fiscal conservative,' said a Raleigh woman, 'so it’s kind of like, at least among my peers, there’s a change in kind of the conservative group. But it doesn’t necessarily seem like the Republican Party is changing with it.'

"More importantly, Tea Partiers see the social issues as a distraction — meaning Republicans who are spewing anti-gay, anti-abortion rhetoric aren’t likely to endear themselves to the most vocal faction of the GOP.

"'The government, the media, the news media, you know. Of course – it’s gay rights, it’s abortion,' said a Tea Partier from Roanoke. 'What we need to be focused on is the financial situation.'

"Another Roanoke woman observed, 'I think the Republicans have lost so many people to the Democratic Party because of social issues … if we could eliminate that from the conversation I think we’d have an entirely different electorate.'

"Also revelatory was that many of the moderates were 'surprised' that other people in their group weren’t staunchly conservative on social issues. In other words, it’s almost as if they had been biting their tongues on the Evangelical agenda because they didn’t realize that others shared their more moderate views.

"'I was surprised that the group was more moderate on social issues, like I am,' wrote one moderate on a post card distributed following the discussion. 'It seems that this group focused on the fiscal aspect of Republicanism as the main component.'

"One place on which all these groups found common ground was in their disdain for President Barack Obama and his 'socialist,' 'big government' policies. But outside of that confluence, the group dynamics are fascinating. Evangelicals like the Tea Party because they 'stand up' to Democrats, but the Tea Party isn’t even remotely interested in social issues, while moderates despise the Tea Party and are 'largely open to progressive social policies, including on gay marriage and immigration.'

"So where does that leave the GOP? At war, which isn’t news. But the memo notes that in Republican-held districts, Evangelicals currently make up about 30 percent of the electorate while non-Evangelical Tea Partiers account for 23 percent of it. And while moderates 'are not required' to keep these Republican-held districts in GOP hands, Carville, Greenberg, and Seifert conclude that 'these fractures do matter' in the most vulnerable GOP districts."


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In the meantime, Civil War is still erupting as we see in "Republican Civil War Erupts: Business Groups v. Tea Party," an article by Michael C. Bender & Kathleen Hunter at Bloomberg.com:

"A battle for control of the Republican Party has erupted as an emboldened Tea Party moved to oust senators who voted to reopen the government while business groups mobilized to defeat allies of the small-government movement.

"'We are going to get engaged,' said Scott Reed, senior political strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 'The need is now more than ever to elect people who understand the free market and not silliness.' The chamber spent $35.7 million on federal elections in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based group that tracks campaign spending.

"Meanwhile, two Washington-based groups that finance Tea Party-backed candidates said yesterday they’re supporting efforts to defeat Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran, who voted this week for the measure ending the 16-day shutdown and avoiding a government debt default. Cochran, a Republican seeking a seventh term next year, faces a challenge in his party’s primary from Chris McDaniel, a state senator.

"McDaniel, who announced his candidacy yesterday, 'is not part of the Washington establishment and he has the courage to stand up to the big spenders in both parties,' Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, said in a statement supporting him.


"Controlling Congress

"Cochran is at least the seventh Republican senator to face a primary in the 2014 midterms. The intra-party contests come as Republicans seek a net pickup of six seats to regain control of the 100-member chamber that they lost in the 2006 elections. Party leaders are also working to protect their majority in the U.S. House, where they have 232 members to the Democrats’ 200.

"Those goals became more difficult after the Tea Party-aligned House and Senate Republicans embraced a plan tyinggovernment spending to defunding Obamacare. PresidentBarack Obama and Senate Democrats rejected the proposal and had the power to stop it, and their partisan adversaries took the lion’s share of the blame for the impasse leading to the government shutdown that began Oct. 1.

"The Republican Party’s favorability was at a record low of 28 percent in a Gallup Poll conducted Oct. 3-6. That was down 10 percentage points from the previous month and 15 points below Democrats. The Tea Party is less popular now than ever, according to a poll released Oct. 15 by the Pew Research Center. Forty-nine percent of U.S. adults have an unfavorable opinion of the movement, while 30 percent have a favorable one.

"Revised Ratings

"The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan Washington-based group that tracks races, changed the ratings of 15 U.S. House seats yesterday, all but one in favor of the prospects for Democrats. After three vacancies are filled in the 435-member House, Democrats are expected to need a net pickup of 17 seats to win back the majority they lost in the 2010 elections.

"Both sides are using the Oct. 16 vote on a bipartisan agreement to reopen the government and lift the nation’s $16.7 trillion debt ceiling as a barometer for choosing their targets in next year’s elections.

"In the Senate, 18 of 46 Republicans voted against the final deal. The opponents included Senators Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Pat Roberts of Kansas and John Cornyn of Texas, each of whom face primary contests. In the House, Republicans cast all the 144 votes opposing the accord.


"Hurting Brand

"'They voted "no" because they understand this is a rallying cry' and that backing the agreement could be used against them, Tom Davis, a former National Republican Congressional Committee chairman and now director of federal government affairs for Deloitte Consulting, said in an interview. 'This has not helped Republicans. It’s hurt the Republican brand.'

"To improve their odds, Tea Party leaders are fine-tuning their strategy by targeting incumbents in states where Democrats have little or no chance of winning in the general election. In 2012 and 2010, the movement nominated weak or flawed Senate candidates in Indiana, Missouri, Delaware and Nevada who were defeated in the November general elections, dashing Republicans’ chances for taking over the chamber.

"'That’s part of the calculation in challenging Republican Senator Lamar Alexander in Tennessee, where no Democrats hold statewide office,' said Michael Leahy, a Republican activist. State Representative Joe Carr announced in August he would run against Alexander in next year’s primary.

"Volunteer Effort

"Leahy is helping to organize volunteers to knock on doors tomorrow in the state and urge voters to protest Alexander’s support for ending the Washington impasse by backing Carr.

"'Whoever wins the primary in Tennessee is going to sail to victory,' Leahy said in an interview. 'Democrats are anemic here.'

"In addition to Cochran and Alexander, Republican senators who supported the agreement to re-open the government and face primary challenges include Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

"'The strategy of primarying people like Thad Cochran is more of the same and it means more Senate minorities in the future,' said David French, the top lobbyist in Washington for the National Retail Federation. 'I question the judgment there.'

"French said the federation would back candidates in Republican primaries. Neither he nor Reed would specify which incumbents they’d support.


"Dropping Support

"'There are incumbent Republicans who are on the wrong side of some of these issues,' said French, whose organization spent more than $300,000 on races in 2012. 'There are definitely some incumbent Republicans we’re not going to support again.'

"The chamber has challenged the Tea Party before and Reed said they will follow a similar strategy next year.

"Leading up to the 2012 Republican primary, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Michigan Chamber of Commerce paid for television ads backing Representative Fred Upton, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Upton was fending off a challenge from Jack Hoogendyk, a former state representative backed by the Tea Party-aligned FreedomWorks, which posted online a 'Down with Upton' petition. Upton won with 67 percent of the vote compared with 33 percent for Hoogendyk.

"Campaign Spending

"Joining the Senate Conservatives Fund in backing McDaniel’s primary challenge of Cochran is the Club for Growth, another Tea Party ally. The group’s super political action committee, Club for Growth Action, spent $17.9 million on federal races in 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

"Senate Conservatives Fund spent $15.9 million in 2012 and $3.9 million so far on 2014 campaigns. The group, a political action committee founded by former South Carolina Republican Senator Jim DeMint, backed Republicans Rand Paul in Kentucky in 2010 and Ted Cruz in Texas in 2012 as each won Senate bids.

"McDaniel is the group’s first endorsement in the 2014 elections, and today it pledged its backing to Louisville investor Matt Bevin, who is challenging McConnell.

"It’s too soon to know whether the boost the Tea Party-backed Senate candidates are anticipating will materialize, said Jennifer Duffy, who tracks Senate races for the Cook Report.


"Not 'Serious'

"With the exception of Bevin, who is spending his own money in his primary race, 'none of these other candidates are really serious yet,' Duffy said.

"'It’s going to take a week or so to figure out how Tea Party voters feel about it,' Duffy said. 'If they are angry, that could give some of these candidates momentum.'

"Democrats are also looking to use the government shutdown battle to their political advantage.

"Rickey Cole, the Democratic chairman in Mississippi, said a Republican civil war presents an opportunity. Cole is pitching party leaders in Washington to help in recruiting a candidate for the state’s Senate contest.

"'Folks are returning my call, but everybody’s got to do a poll to decide which side of the bed to get out of,' Cole said in an interview. 'This race could be a replay of what happened to Senator Lugar in Indiana.'

"After 36 years in the Senate, Richard Lugar lost the Republican primary in Indiana last year to state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who had Tea Party support. Mourdock went on to lose to Democrat Joe Donnelly in the general election.

"Targeting Republicans

"The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which assists candidates, is attacking the Republican House members who are running for the Senate, saying they’re partly to blame for the unpopular shutdown.

"Montana, West Virginia and Georgia Senate contests all feature Republican House members running for seats where incumbents are retiring. In Arkansas and Louisiana, Democratic senators are squaring off against House Republicans.


"'Republicans are immeasurably damaged by this,' said the Democratic committee’s spokesman, Justin Barasky. 'They repeatedly voted to keep the government shutdown. It highlights a recklessness and irresponsibility that all those candidates have.'"

(To contact the reporters on this story: Michael C. Bender in Washington atmbender10@bloomberg.net; Kathleen Hunter in Washington at khunter9@bloomberg.net.  To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at jschneider50@bloomberg.net.)

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Gerrymandering aside, we've known that 2014 is the year that non-Conservatives are waiting for, and the new split in the GOP Civil War gives the Democrats even more of a chance to win the House back in the "most vulnerable of districts" and to increase the majority in the Senate in the Purple States.

Politics for the Evangelicals like Sarah Palin is easy; cozy up to the Tea Party faction like she's presently doing with Ted Cruz.  Lying is built in to the criminal mind of the Conservatives, but the intellectually challenged like Palin may find it difficult to even know the difference between the two factions.

In any case, we suspect Business As Usual with the factions sticking together unless a Democratic Presidential candidate is able to split their votes in 2016 like Bill Clinton did in 1992.

Next: More On The Civil War



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“Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love truth.”

Joseph Joubert. (French moralist and essayist, remembered today largely for his

Pensées (Thoughts), published posthumously. 1754 - 1824.)
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