When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

09 August 2007

The Economist on conservative American malaise

The Republican Party is only the most visible part of the American right. The right's hidden strength lies in its conservative base. America is almost unique in possessing a vibrant conservative movement. Every state boasts organisations fighting in favour of guns and against taxes and abortion. The Christian right can call upon megachurches and Evangelical colleges. Conservatives have also created a formidable counter-establishment of think-tanks and pressure groups.


Yet today this mighty movement is in deep trouble. Veteran activists are sunk in gloom (“I've never seen conservatives so downright fed up,” says Richard Viguerie, a conservative stalwart). And the other side is cock-a-hoop. Stanley Greenberg, a Democratic pollster, describes the shift from conservatism as “breathtaking”.


In 2002 the electorate was equally divided between Democrats and Democratic-leaners (43%) and Republicans and Republican-leaners (43%). Today only 35% align themselves with Republicans, and 50% with Democrats. The Republicans are doing particularly badly among independents (the fastest-growing group in the electorate) and younger voters. The proportion of 18-25-year-olds who identify with the Republican Party has declined from 55% in 1991 to 35% in 2006, according to Pew. Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster, notes that the share of Republican voters aged 55 and over has increased from 28% in 1997 to 41% today, whereas the share aged 18-34 has fallen from 25% to 17%. No wonder Ken Mehlman, a former Republican Party chairman who oversaw George Bush's 2004 victory, is now advising hedge funds on how to deal with a Democratic-leaning America.

The American Right: Under the Weather (The Economist, August 9, 2007)

No comments: