The myth of Repub­li­can dis­unity

Ex­plain­ing Amer­ica’s pol­i­tics re­quires re­vers­ing con­ven­tional wis­dom

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By J.T. Young

Democrats lean left even more than Repub­li­cans lean right, but they get less for it. While Amer­ica’s two par­ties are equally com­mit­ted to their re­spec­tive ends of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum, there is a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence in the size of those ide­o­log­i­cal con­stituen­cies. This dif­fer­ence helps ex­plain why the Demo­cratic Party, the larger in reg­is­tra­tion, is of­ten the mi­nor­ity party to­day. Con­ven­tional wis­dom is that the Repub­li­cans Party is frac­tured and dom­i­nated by con­ser­va­tives. Two im­pli­ca­tions — of­ten ex­plicit — fol­low from this: Repub­li­cans’ dom­i­na­tion by the right is cost­ing them po­lit­i­cally and the rea­son for their dis­unity, while Democrats are less con­trolled by the left and com­par­a­tively more uni­fied.

There are two prob­lems with this “con­ven­tional wis­dom.” First, Repub­li­cans are cur­rently Wash­ing­ton’s ma­jor­ity — con­trol­ling the White House and Congress — and an even greater one across the na­tion’s state gov­ern­ments. So, claimed dom­i­na­tion by the right has hardly hurt Repub­li­cans here.

Sec­ond, this cen­tury’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tions — five from 2000 through 2016 — also con­tra­dict con­ven­tional wis­dom. In these five elec­tions, Democrats av­er­aged 37.8 percent of the elec­torate, and Repub­li­cans 33.8 percent. While seem­ingly small, 4 percent is elec­torally sig­nif­i­cant.

Four of the last five elec­tions have had smaller pop­u­lar vote mar­gins. Fur­ther, self-iden­ti­fi­ca­tion over­whelm­ingly pre­dicts vot­ing: Democrats voted Demo­cratic on av­er­age 89 percent and Repub­li­cans voted Repub­li­can 91 percent.

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