Republican Party

Most Republican Voters Aren't Loyal Trumpists, Suggests Survey

Plus: Kansans fight over driver's license gender markers, chain restaurants bridge social divides, and more...


A new poll attempts to suss out the contours of the Republican Party in 2023. The results suggest it is an ideologically diverse coalition, if also a weird one.

"After eight years of Republican fealty to Donald J. Trump, few would argue that the party is still defined by Ronald Reagan's famous three-legged stool of the religious right, fiscal conservatives and neoconservative hawks," comments The New York Times. "But if the Republican Party is no longer in Reagan's image, it's not necessarily a populist-conservative MAGA monolith, either."

The poll, conducted by the Times and Siena College, found that "majorities of Republicans side with Mr. Trump on almost every issue" but "those majorities are often quite slim."

To tease out more who makes up the modern conservative electorate, the Times divided Republican and Republican-leaning voters into six categories, defined by their feelings about the former and would-be-future president as well as their policy positions:

The Moderate Establishment (14%). Highly educated, affluent, socially moderate or even liberal and often outright Never Trump.

The Traditional Conservatives (26%). Old-fashioned economic and social conservatives who oppose abortion and prefer corporate tax cuts to new tariffs. They don't love Mr. Trump, but they do support him.

The Right Wing (26%). They watch Fox News and Newsmax. They're "very conservative." They're disproportionately evangelical. They believe America is on the brink of catastrophe. And they love Mr. Trump more than any other group.

The Blue Collar Populists (12%). They're mostly Northern, socially moderate, economic populists who hold deeply conservative views on race and immigration. Not only do they back Mr. Trump, but he himself probably counted as one a decade ago.

The Libertarian Conservatives (14%). These disproportionately Western and Midwestern conservatives value small government. They're relatively socially moderate and isolationist, and they're on the lower end of Trump support compared with other groups.

The Newcomers (8%). They don't look like Republicans. They're young, diverse and moderate. But these disaffected voters like Democrats and the "woke" left even less.

The "right wing" and the "blue collar populists"—which make up a combined 37 percent—are loyal Trump supporters. The others in the coalition have more mixed or even negative views of Trump.

Libertarian conservatives still exist, the Times reports. They were the least supportive of Mr. Trump, the paper says, but they're "not a great group for Mr. DeSantis either—a telling indication of the troubles facing a candidate who once built his national reputation on freedom from coronavirus restrictions."

Libertarian conservatives can still find some common cause with other factions of Republican voters—including the populists.

"A majority of [the populist] group supports abortion rights and same-sex marriage," points out New York magazine:

This aversion to bible-thumping moralism helped tie a segment of these voters to the Democratic Party before Trump's emergence. To the extent that the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade increases the salience of reproductive rights, and Trump's eventual exit from GOP politics weakens blue-collar populists' emotional identification with the party, Republicans could lose ground with them. Indeed, in last year's midterm elections, Democrats performed better in heavily blue-collar Midwest states like Michigan and Pennsylvania than they did nationally.

The "newcomers" group is an interesting one, seeming to be comprised of people whose main reason for voting Republican is feeling alienated from progressives and Democrats. Some of these voters would perhaps be ripe for picking off by the Libertarian Party, if that party were actually functional and not a giant constellation of internal fighting and identity crisis. Then again, maybe not—they also express more interest in sticking it to the left than in a principled defense of freedom. Here's the Times again:

This is the youngest and most diverse group of Republicans. Just 59 percent are white, and 18 percent are Hispanic. More than a quarter are 18 to 29.

Nearly three-quarters identify as moderates or liberals. They overwhelmingly support immigration reform and say society should accept the identity of transgender people.

With these characteristics, it can be hard to see why these voters are Republican-leaners at all. But unlike the similarly moderate establishment, this is an unequivocally Republican group. They back Mr. Trump against President Biden and they're deeply unhappy with the state of the country: Nearly 90 percent said the economy was poor, placing them just behind the Right Wing in their economic pessimism. A similar number said the country was heading in the wrong direction.

So while they may not be conservatives in any traditional sense, they're certainly not happy with Democrats. They were the likeliest group to say they would rather back a candidate who focused on fighting the radical "woke" left than one focused on protecting law and order. By a two-to-one margin, they said they would rather vote for a candidate who promised to stop "woke" business, rather than a candidate who said businesses should have the freedom to decide what to support.

This group should give "Democrats some cause for anxiety," suggests New York magazine:

The survey suggests that nonwhite, working-class Americans are starting to vote more like their light-skinned peers. In 2020, nonwhite, non-college-educated voters backed Joe Biden over Trump by a 48-point margin. Today, this group backs by Biden by merely 16 points, according to the survey. This erosion in the Democrats' support among nonwhite voters leaves Biden and Trump tied at 43 percent nationally….

Now, we're looking at one small subset of voters from a single poll. The margin of error here is so high that the existence of this voter group could be illusory. But it does seem possible that, among a sliver of America's youngest voters, the most overbearing forms of progressive discourse have acquired more political salience than concrete questions of public policy.

But perhaps we shouldn't ascribe too much power to these categories, which are a bit…fuzzy. For instance, only 34 percent of those categorized as libertarian conservatives said they favor cutting taxes on corporations over raising tariffs on imports.*


Kansans fight over driver's license gender markers. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kansas is getting involved in a lawsuit over gender markets on driver's licenses in Kansas. The suit—filed by Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach—"seeks to force the state to list the sex that people were assigned at birth on their driver's licenses," explains the Associated Press. The Kansas ACLU sought to intervene in the case (Kansas v. Harper) on behalf of five transgender Kansans.

Kansas currently lets transgender people change the gender marker on their licenses. But Kobach claims that a law that took effect in July not only bans future changes but requires the state to reverse any previous changes. "That new law defines a person's sex as male or female, based on the 'biological reproductive system' identified at birth, applying that definition to any state law or regulation," reports the AP. "It also says that 'important governmental objectives' of protecting people's privacy, health and safety justify single-sex spaces such as bathrooms and locker rooms."

"We are gratified that the court has seen that our clients have a vested interest in the outcome of this case, and should be entitled to make their arguments," said Sharon Brett, Legal Director of the ACLU of Kansas, in a statement. "For our clients and the entire community they represent, this case is about the privacy, dignity, and autonomy that comes from having accurate gender markers on their license, and about their right to be safe from the harassment they would face if forced to present inaccurate IDs that would essentially out them against their will in daily life."


Chili's: the great equalizer?


• An earthquake hit California yesterday as the state was also pummeled by a tropical storm.

• Former President Donald Trump saya he won't be at this week's GOP debate—or any other Republican primary debates. It's still unclear who else will be on the Republican debate stage Wednesday.

• More people are realizing that the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) is "a first amendment nightmare," reports Techdirt.

• The American Booksellers Association and the Authors Guild demanding the FTC investigate Amazon's dominance of the book market "is a perfect example for why abandoning the consumer welfare standard results in the FTC being used to protect select competitors rather than consumers," write the American Consumer Institute's Steve Pociask and Trey Price.

• Witnesses to last year's mass shooting at a Tops grocery store in Buffalo, New York, are suing Reddit and YouTube for allegedly radicalizing the shooter.

• At Unherd, Olympia Campbell pushes back against people using evolutionary theory to say women should stay chaste until marriage and stop using birth control.

• "A federal judge in Georgia on Sunday issued a ruling that blocks the state from enforcing its new ban on hormone therapy for transgender minors while the case proceeds," reports Chris Geidner in his LawDork newsletter.

• New York licenses for retail cannabis establishments are in limbo due to a lawsuit filed by four military veterans, who say the state hasn't upheld its promise to give veterans special licensing consideration.

• The town without zoning.

* UPDATE: This post has been updated to add more information about the Times and Siena College poll.