Analysis: GOP Voters Remain Economic Populists, Cultural Conservatives

VALDOSTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 05: People watch as President Donald Trump attends a rally in support of Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) and Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) on December 05, 2020 in Valdosta, Georgia. The rally with the senators comes ahead of a crucial runoff election for Perdue and Loeffler on …
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Republican voters continue to be populist on economic issues and conservative on cultural issues, analysis of the 2020 electorate reveals.

Research conducted by Navigator of more than 3,000 voters for President Trump and Democrat Joe Biden in the November 3 presidential election finds that while Republican voters remain mostly culturally conservative, they lean towards the middle of the ideological spectrum on key economic questions.

The 2020 electorate breaks Trump and Biden voters into four quadrants:

  • 17 percent are populists — economically liberal, culturally conservative
  • 32 percent are conservatives — economically conservative, culturally conservative
  • 46 percent are liberals — economically liberal, culturally liberal
  • 5 percent are libertarians — economically conservative, culturally liberal

On cultural issues, the research finds that voters are almost equally divided, with 49 percent falling into the conservative column and the other 51 percent identifying as more liberal.

When it comes to economics, though, a significant portion of Republican voters are economically liberal or fall in the center on economics — supporting benefit programs like Social Security and Medicare and believing the federal government has given too much aid to the top one percent of earners and multinational corporations.

Very few voters who supported Trump in the 2020 election see themselves as libertarians, the research concludes. Biden, with also little support from self-identified libertarians, fared better with this small group than Trump.

Broken down in a different way, the research finds that 63 percent of voters are economically liberal. Meanwhile, only 37 percent of voters are economically conservative, though even a significant bulk of these voters teeter around the middle on economic issues.

Of the four groups — economic liberals, economic conservatives, cultural liberals, and cultural conservatives — economic conservatives make up the smallest portion of the electorate. Economic liberals make up the largest portion of the electorate.

(Chart via Navigator Research)

On specific cultural issues, such as gun rights, illegal immigration, and the Black Lives Matter movement, the research finds that Republican voters are very much aligned to the right. On specific economic issues, Republican voters are much more split across the ideological spectrum.

For example, Republican voters fall on the liberal side when it comes to preserving Social Security and Medicare. When presented with the statement “the federal government has given too much of the coronavirus relief to major corporations and the wealthy,” Republican voters veer towards the ideological middle.

Even on the contentious issue of Obamacare, Republican voters fall to the conservative side, but more towards the middle than the hard right.

(Chart via Navigator Research)

The research explains Trump’s ability to win the support of more than 72 million voters this year — more than any other Republican in American history — on his “America First” message that was similar to his 2016 platform, centered on economic nationalism and skepticism of globalization.

In 2016, Democracy Fund conducted a similar analysis of the electorate at the time. Their findings showed that the largest group in the electorate are those who are economically liberal, and GOP voters, as in 2020, tend to fall more in the middle on economic issues rather than being set on economic conservative ideals.

Like in 2020, a significant portion of the electorate in 2016 identified as populists.


(Chart via Democracy Fund)

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder


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