Polls indicating that the Republican Party is moving further to the right are leaving a large faction of moderate Republicans feeling disenchanted with the party’s conservative drift, reports The Boston Globe
In 2010, some of the GOP’s most outspoken leaders helped propel Republican candidates into power in the House. The tea party movement was influential in securing this takeover.
But Gallup poll findings to be released Friday indicate that the GOP’s conservative shift is isolating its moderate wing, the Globe reported. Self-described moderates made up almost one-third of the Republican Party just 10 years ago. Now, that fraction has dropped to less than one-fourth, according to the Globe.
Meanwhile, those identifying with the Republican Party are more conservative than ever. The percentage of Republicans who label themselves conservative has risen 10 points since 2002, from 62 to 72 percent.
“The base of the party right now is the tea party, frankly,” former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson told the Globe. “Those are the folks who are the most active, the loudest, who go to town hall meetings, call members of Congress, and show up at political barbecues, and they’re pulling the party to the right.”
Grayson can attest personally to the influence of the tea party, because he lost a Senate primary race last year to tea party favorite Rand Paul.
The polarization between right-leaning Republicans and liberal Democrats has led to the vilification of any GOP members who even consider compromise with the other side, the Globe reports. This has been evident in recent weeks during the debt talks. Though polls indicate Republican voters would support a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, party leaders remain staunchly opposed to any revenue increases.
“Moderates were an endangered species, and now it’s just about an extinct species,” said Connie Morella, a moderate Republican and former Maryland congresswoman. “Republican leaders feel they need to be loyal to their party because there could be repercussions if they are not. They are afraid it might be held against them in the next election, and that’s a really difficult kind of prison to be in.”
Morella is concerned that many disaffected moderates are withdrawing their Republican Party registration and either becoming independents or removing themselves from the political scene altogether.
“I’m exasperated with all of it,” Sarah Emberley, a 50-year old Republican, told the Globe. “Our leadership is stuck. The Republican agenda is stuck. And the moderate voice has gotten lost in the whole rhetoric.”
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