GOP Shouldn’t Go Social, Survey Data Explain Why

As David Kirby and I have argued here and here, the tea party has shifted the GOP’s focus from social to fiscal. This strategy has proved successful as libertarians and fiscal conservatives steer the political narrative toward reevaluating the proper role of government in society. Despite the Akin debacle, some still wonder if the GOP should begin emphasizing social issues again to mobilize social conservatives. However, polling data suggests why the GOP has no reason to do this.

Barna Group surveyed 1005 likely voters and found a surprising finding. Seventy-nine percent of women who attend religious services frequently say they “definitely plan to vote” in the 2012 presidential election compared to 52 percent among women who do not attend religious services frequently. So being a woman who frequently attends religious services increases the likelihood of voting by 27 points—a striking result if accurate. In contrast, men who often attend religious services are only 16 points more likely to vote than men who rarely attend religious services.

Consequently, there is less reason for Romney to emphasize social issues to mobilize social conservatives, because most of these voters are planning on voting in the election anyway. However, the Obama campaign should be concerned because especially among female social moderates and liberals, about half plan to stay home on election day. For this reason Obama's campaign has taken clear efforts emphaize the social issues they believe will mobilize female Obama voters.

 

Source: Barna Group

Moreover, high religiosity woman are not currently prioritizing divisive social issues like gay marriage or abortion. Instead, they are most concerned with fiscal issues including taxes, employment policies, and health care.  Concern over gay marriage and abortion were second and third to last respectively; only concern over environmental policy was lower.

 

Source: Barna Group

if the GOP goes social, or tries to place too much emphasis on divisive social issues they risk alienating socially moderate fiscal conservatives and libertarians who are necessary for Romney to win. Moreover, they would do this for the sake of winning over social conservatives already planning on voting for Romney in November.

Lower voting propensity among liberal and moderate women in this election also explains the Democrat’s strategic focus on the women’s issues. The Democratic National Convention includes Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke made famous by Rush Limbaugh’s “slut” comment. Nancy Keenan, head of NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Lilly Ledbetter, named in the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act making it easier to sue employers over pay discrimination by extending the statue of limitations.

In sum, the Obama campaign’s focus on women’s issues is intended to mobilize those who probably would only vote for Obama anyway, but need motivation to get out and vote. If Romney’s campaign shifts it’s strategy and begins emphasizing social issues, he risks losing the fiscal conservatives and libertarians who are the critical voting block for his campaign. The GOP’s focusing on social issues would not likely gain more voters than it would lose this November.

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  • sarcasmic||

    C'mon Emily! Just because you're totally gorgeous doesn't mean you can't do alt-text!

    Also, firstianth!

  • Whiterun Guard||

    I already called dibs.

    You got Matt Welch, remember?

  • sarcasmic||

    Uh, no?

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Hrm. I remember being pretty surprised by him being your first choice.

    You were pretty adamant about it.

  • sarcasmic||

    I think you should lay off the fortified wine.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    It's medicinal!

  • Juice||

  • PrangTee||

    Well now that makes a lot of sense dude

    www.Private-Ways.tk

  • wareagle||

    the 'war on women' meme only works if you are willing to support politicians who have actually abused women but condemn those who merely say stupid things.

    I don't necessarily buy that social issues are a loser. Every state that put gay marriage to a referendum had the same result. Most folks do NOT think that they should pay for someone else's birth control. Some in the party trot out the social issues because Romney's focus has been totally economic. He may (or may not) be socially conservative, but he is unwilling to put any energy into that.

    The country's problem is not social decay, it is economic stagnation. Ultimately, this is like all re-elections: a referendum on the incumbent, driven mostly by the state of the economy. I certainly get how many here cannot support Romney, but I don't get how anyone could support Obama.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    I'd vote for someone who advocated an actual war on women.

    Finally get us back in the win column.

  • Joe R.||

    I hate the phrase "war on women". Makes me want to choke a bitch.

  • widget||

    The country's problem is not social decay,...

    This is why the Dem's want to bring out that slut, Sandra Fluke, for a rousing speech? I keed, sort of. As John Derbyshire and others have pointed out, Sandra Fluke is poised to graduate from a top 10 law school and on her way to pulling in a mid six-figure income. If she is eligible for government handouts (by insurance regulation proxy in her case), who isn't, and who's left to pay the bill?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Too many Republicans identify with the GOP solely through social issues to let it go. They may be in remission now, but they will continue to be a cancer on the liberty of the country for years to come. If Romney continues to emphasize fiscal conserns over social and loses in November, look for the establishment to go running back to the legislative pulpit.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    But they're never going to vote any other way anyway. Basically the same as the midwest union people. They're going to vote democrat regardless of the platform, speeches or media coverage.

    So why bother pandering to the ones that are going to both fote for you AND turn up to vote anyway. It's paying for stuff you already bought, at the expense of stuff you actually need.

    Oooh, look at that, I fell into the trap of thinking the RNC/DNC actually give a crap about winning elections.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    If we grant that the existence of social issues in politics is a cancer on the body politic, wouldn't it be useful to ask who was it who *introduced* this cancer into the political bloodstream?

    Judging from the rhetoric, one might think that a bunch of right-wing politicians decided to introduce abortion, gay marriage and guns into the political debate. This is not so. On all three issues, it was the progressive or left-wing side which decided it would be a good idea to federalize these issues: To make abortion and gay marriage into matters of constitutional right, and to have the feds ban guns.

    Doesn't it matter which side is the aggressor, or are we to observe a spurious even-handedness, or even focus the blame on the defending side?

  • Whiterun Guard||

    I don't think it matters where you got cancer.

    Just whether or not you get rid of it.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Really? If you don't know where you got the cancer from, there's a risk you'll get it again.

    "Gosh, doc, I can't wait to get through my cancer treatment so I can get back to eating my favorite foods!"

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Well that's where your analogy fails then.

    Because social issues in politics will ALWAYS come back (assuming you could ever excise them in the first place).

    Also, pretty much nothing reasonable (especially eating certain foods) GIVES you cancer, and most oncologists won't have you change your habits once in remission (except smoking if you're young enough, as a knee-jerk reaction).

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I wasn't trying to suggest that my hypothetical cancer patient had "reasonable" dietary habits.

    And I was commenting on FoE's remark that Republican social-issue voters "will continue to be a cancer on the liberty of the country for years to come," without any mention of Democratic social-issue voters or the root causes of these issues being in federal politics in the first place.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Ah, I missed that. But in any case, I guess to me it just doesn't matter who did what first, though it would be interesting to look at it historically.

    Getting rid of it (along with all the demons, orcs and evil unicorns) should still be the goal.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    When [Godwin edit] invaded [Godwin edit], would it be appropriate to demand a cease-fire, regardless of the historical issue of who did what first?

  • Spoonman.||

    Can't we just admit that abortion is never going away, gays are never going away, guns are never going away, and focus on stopping the destruction of the economy? No? Fuck.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "guns are never going away"

    Yes, guns are a social issue. Does that mean it's uncool to be concerned about gun rights?

  • Spoonman.||

    No. I'm concerned about gun rights. I own a gun pretty much because I think it's important to point out that I can. But it's clearly not a significant federal issue.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Fair enough, but there is a powerful group of people who think it *is* a federal issue, and unless gun-rights types oppose them, the result will be additional gun-control laws.

    In other words, to defend your own political interests, you will have to give at least some attention to this particular social issue, despite (or because of) your belief that the federal government should not be meddling in the matter.

    This also describes the attitude of many "social-issue" voters. They don't particularly like the fact that the issues of (say) abortion, pot, and gay marriage have been federalized, but once they have been, and the issues are part of federal politics, then they feel obliged to get involved.

    Basically, if people can be sincerely and legitimately concerned about one social issue - guns - then why not other social issues, too?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    And from the media's perspective, guns are in the same category as abortion and gay marriage as an eye-rolling, risible distraction from the real issues.

  • Spoonman.||

    But Barack Obama had a Democratic congress and didn't even touch guns. It's a dead issue, federally.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    And why is it dead? Because the gun-rights crowd made clear that you lose votes for supporting gun control.

    And is it really dead? We might need to review the Fast and Furious documents to find out, and some of the documents released so far are suggestive that there may be a gun-control angle.

  • SIV||

    Yes. If sky-daddy worshiping breeders are for gun rights it is a meaningless KULTUR WAR issue. Move on to more important things like gay marriage and public funding of fetal stem cell research.

  • Spoonman.||

    Did you not read my post?

  • wareagle||

    focusing on those other things means being able to ignore the destruction of the economy.

  • Spoonman.||

    Exactly. That's what I'm complaining about.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    At the risk of raising a distracting and controversial social issue, I notice that you wrongly added and apostrophe to "its" in "shifts it’s strategy."

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "and apostrophe"

    Oh, well, I should have known I'd misspell something in a post about proper spelling.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Hoist'd by your own p'tards.

  • R C Dean||

    Love ya, Em, and I know writing for blog like this is not conducive to highly polished prose, but "high religiosity woman" would probably translate to English as "highly religious women", no?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I think it's social-science speak.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Blonde moment?

  • ||

    If Romney’s campaign shifts it’s strategy and begins emphasizing social issues, he risks losing the fiscal conservatives and libertarians who are the critical voting block for his campaign.

    Two things:

    1. I can't see why a fiscal conservative would think Romney is much of an improvement over Obama, no matter what Romney says in his stump speeches.

    2. Are libertarians really a critical voting bloc for Romney? That marriage fell apart in the mid-00s.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "1. I can't see why a fiscal conservative would think Romney is much of an improvement over Obama, no matter what Romney says in his stump speeches."

    1. In government he managed over a budget that created a surplus.
    2. In business he managed a company that made profits.

    Two things Obama has never done. How much of an improvement that is over Obama is indeed subjective.

  • Alice Bowie||

    I would probably vote republican (even though I don't like the war thing) if there was no religious right in their platform.

  • KB Marx||

    Agreed. I just want a secular Republican party. But that seems out of the question given the light of recent events....

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "no matter what Romney says in his stump speeches"

    Indeed, the stump speeches are insignificant compared to the fact that he has successfully managed almost every entity of which that he was in charge. You really think Romney and Obama agree on economic principles?

  • CampingInYourPark||

    oops...
    "almost every entity of which that he was in charge."

    almost every entity of which he was in charge.

  • ||

    You really think Romney and Obama agree on economic principles?

    I do, because I watch their actions and not their speeches.

    1. Obama cut taxes, Romney promises tax reform and lower taxes.

    2. Obama created a program to subsidize private health insurance, built exactly like Romney's state-level initiative.

    3. Obama bailed out Wall Street and the big banks. Romney has gone on record defending TARP.

    4. Obama has vastly increased defense spending. Romney wants even more.

    Obama talks like a socialist, but he's your typical American crony capitalist. Romney, to his credit, makes no bones about it.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "I do, because I watch their actions and not their speeches."

    1. Obama cut taxes, Romney promises tax reform and lower taxes.

    Maybe you get the memo, but the rich aren't paying their "fair share". What tax rate has Obama cut? Also, one thing is something someone did and the other is something someone said.

    2. Obama created a program to subsidize private health insurance, built exactly like Romney's state-level initiative.

    They are exactly the same to someone that thinks 13,000 pages of new regulations is equal to 70 and doesn't know many things in the final bill were vetoed and overridden.

    3. Obama bailed out Wall Street and the big banks. Romney has gone on record defending TARP.

    True. One thing is something someone did, they other is something someone said. Remember this? "I do, because I watch their actions and not their speeches."

  • 35N4P2BYY||

    The thing is... that in terms of actual governance the only discernible difference between the two teams are these wedge issues. If they don't campaign on that they have no other distinctions to draw.

  • Killazontherun||

    I'm amazed that Democrats believe Sandra Fluke to be good spokesperson. I've seen her speak a few times, she not only spoke incoherently on those occasions, but did so with a confused, bovine like expression on her face that left me wondering how did this woman even graduate with an undergrad degree as no intelligence whatsoever made its way passed her lips.

  • Sonderegger||

    In sum, the Obama campaign’s focus on women’s issues is intended to mobilize those who probably would only vote for Obama anyway, but need motivation to get out and vote. If Romney’s campaign shifts it’s strategy and begins http://lyndatownsend616.blog.com/ emphasizing social issues, he risks losing the fiscal conservatives and libertarians who are the critical voting block for his campaign. The GOP’s focusing on social issues would not likely gain more voters than it would lose this November.

  • Ardelle||

    they risk alienating socially moderate fiscal conservatives and libertarians who are necessary for Romney to win. Moreover, they would do this for the sake of winning over social conservatives already planning on voting for Romney in November.

  • WWNGD?||

    "War on women" You girls are soooo cute!

  • Brodik||

    Social conservatives are just as mentally unbalanced as fiscal liberals. Both views are authoritarian. Both views promote subservience. Both views have no place in a Democratic Constitutional Republic.

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