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The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the Grand Old Party or the GOP, despite being the younger of the two major parties. In the U.S. political spectrum, the party's platform is generally considered center-right or right . Though its views are numerous and wide-ranging, the Party has long maintained a particular emphasis on preserving laissez-faire capitalism .

The Republican Party has the second most registered voters as of 2004 with 55 million, encompassing roughly one-third of the electorate. Polls over the last two years have found that twenty to thirty-four percent of Americans self-identify as Republicans.

There have been eighteen Republican Presidents, compared to 15 Democrats. Republicans currently fill a minority of seats in both the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, hold a minority of state governorships, and control a minority of state legislatures.


Founded in Ripon, Wisconsinmarker, in 1854 by anti-slavery expansion activists and modernizers, the Republican Party quickly surpassed the Whig Party as the principal opposition to the Democratic Party. It first came to power in 1860 with the election of Abraham Lincoln, a former Whig, to the presidency and presided over the American Civil War and Reconstruction.

The party began to form in the late 1840s, though it would take opposing the Kansas-Nebraska Act to unify the party. Their first official party convention was held on July 6, 1854 in Jackson, Michiganmarker. The Republican's initial base was in the Northeast and Midwest and the party solidified its position as the second party with the nomination of John C. Fremont in the 1856 Presidential election. Early Republican ideology was reflected in the 1856 slogan free labor, free land, free men. "Free labor" referred to the Republican belief in a mobile middle class that left the workforce and set up small businesses. "Free land" referred to Republican efforts to facilitate this spirit of entrepreneurship by giving away government owned land. The Party hoped that this rapid growth would help check, and eventually end slavery. Abraham Lincoln received the Republican nomination in 1860 and subsequently won the presidency. The party remained a part of the Union during the American Civil War and presided over Reconstruction. In the election of 1864 a majority of Republicans united with pro-war Democrats to nominate Lincoln to the National Union Party ticket. A faction of Radical Republicans split with the party and formed the Radical Democracy Party. This group chose John C. Frémont as its presidential candidate, before reaching a political agreement and withdrawing from the election in September 1864.

The party's success created factionalism within the party in the 1870s. Those disturbed by Ulysses S. Grant ran Horace Greeley for the presidency against him. The Stalwarts defended the spoils system; the Half-Breeds pushed for reform of the civil service. The GOP supported business generally, hard money (i.e., the gold standard), high tariffs, generous pensions for Union veterans, and the annexation of Hawaiimarker. The Republicans supported the Protestants who demanded Prohibition. As the Northern post-bellum economy boomed with heavy and light industry, railroads, mines, fast-growing cities and prosperous agriculture, the Republicans took credit and promoted policies to sustain the fast growth. But by 1890, the Republicans had agreed to the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Interstate Commerce Commission in response to complaints from owners of small businesses and farmers. The high McKinley Tariff of 1890 hurt the party and the Democrats swept to a landslide in the off-year elections, even defeating McKinley himself.

President William Howard Taft.

After the two terms of Democrat Grover Cleveland, the election of William McKinley in 1896 is widely seen as a resurgence of Republican dominance and is sometimes cited as a realigning election. McKinley promised that high tariffs would end the severe hardship caused by the Panic of 1893, and that the GOP would guarantee a sort of pluralism in which all groups would benefit. The Republicans were cemented as the party of business, though mitigated by the succession of Theodore Roosevelt who embraced trust-busting. He later ran on a third party ticket of the Progressive Party and challenged his previous successor William Howard Taft. The party controlled the presidency throughout the 1920s, running on a platform of opposition to the League of Nations, high tariffs, and promotion of business interests. Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover were resoundingly elected in 1920, 1924, and 1928 respectively. The Teapot Dome scandalmarker threatened to hurt the party but Harding died and Coolidge blamed everything on him, as the opposition splintered in 1924. The pro-business policies of the decade seemed to produce an unprecedented prosperity until the Wall Street Crash of 1929 heralded the Great Depression.

The New Deal coalition of Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt controlled American politics for most of the next three decades, excepting the two-term presidency of Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower. African Americans began moving toward favoring the Democratic Party during Roosevelt's time. After Roosevelt took office in 1933, New Deal legislation sailed through Congress at lightning speed. In the 1934 midterm elections, 10 Republican senators went down to defeat, leaving them with only 25 against 71 Democrats. The House of Representatives was split in a similar ratio. The "Second New Deal" was heavily criticized by the Republicans in Congress, who likened it to class warfare and socialism. The volume of legislation, and the inability of the Republicans to block it, soon made the opposition to Roosevelt develop into bitterness. Conservative Democrats, mostly from the South, joined with Republicans led by Senator Robert Taft to create the conservative coalition, which dominated domestic issues in Congress until 1964.

The second half of the 20th century saw election or succession of Republican presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush. The Republican Party, led by House Republican Minority Whip Newt Gingrich campaigning on a Contract with America, were elected to majorities to both houses of Congress in the Republican Revolution of 1994. Their majorities were generally held until the Democrats regained control in the mid-term election of 2006. In the 21st century the Republican Party is defined by social conservatism, an Preemptive war foreign policy to defeat terrorism and promote global democracy, a more powerful executive branch, tax cuts, gun rights and border sovereignty, and deregulation of industry.

In the Presidential election of 2008, the party's nominees were Senator John McCain, of Arizonamarker, for President and former Alaskamarker Governor Sarah Palin for Vice President. They were defeated by Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden. In 2009, Republicans Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell were elected to the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia. Their victories were seen by some as a repudiation of the Democratic Administration and a harbinger of anti-incumbent sentiment against Democrats in the upcoming 2010 elections.

Name and symbols

1874 Nast cartoon featuring the first notable appearance of the Republican elephant
The party's founding members chose the name "Republican Party" in the mid-1850s in part as an homage to Thomas Jefferson (it was the name initially used by his party). The name echoed the 1776 republican values of civic virtue and opposition to aristocracy and corruption.

The term "Grand Old Party" is a traditional nickname for the Republican Party, and the initialism "G.O.P." (or "GOP") is a commonly used designation. According to the Republican Party, the term "gallant old party" was used in 1875. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first known reference to the Republican Party as the "grand old party" came in 1876. The first use of the abbreviation GOP is dated 1884.

The traditional mascot of the party is the elephant. A political cartoon by Thomas Nast, published in Harper's Weekly on November 7, 1874, is considered the first important use of the symbol. In the early 20th century, the usual symbol of the Republican Party in Midwestern states such as Indianamarker and Ohiomarker was the eagle, as opposed to the Democratic rooster. This symbol still appears on Indiana, New York, and West Virginia ballots.

After the 2000 election, the color red became associated with the GOP, although it has not been officially adopted by the party. That election night, for the first time, all of the major broadcast networks used the same color scheme for the electoral map: states won by Republican nominee George W. Bush were colored red, and states won by Democratic nominee Al Gore were colored blue. Although the assignment of colors to political parties is unofficial and informal, they have come to be widely recognized by the media and the public to represent the respective political parties (see Political color and Red states and blue states for more details).

Structure and composition

The Republican National Committee (RNC) is responsible for promoting Republican campaign activities. It is responsible for developing and promoting the Republican political platform, as well as coordinating fundraising and election strategy. Its current chairman is the first African American elected to the post, Michael S. Steele. The chairman of the RNC is chosen by the President when the Republicans have the White House or otherwise by the Party's state committees. The RNC, under the direction of the party's presidential candidate, supervises the Republican National Convention, raises funds, and coordinates campaign strategy. On the local level there are similar state committees in every state and most large cities, counties and legislative districts, but they have far less money and influence than the national body.

The Republican House and Senate caucuses have separate fundraising and strategy committees. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) assists in House races, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) in Senate races. They each raise over $100 million per election cycle, and play important roles in recruiting strong state candidates, while the Republican Governors Association (RGA) assists in state gubernatorial races; it is currently chaired by Governor Rick Perry of Texas.

Ideology and political positions

The Republican Party includes fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, neoconservatives, Moderates, and libertarians.

Economic policies

Republicans emphasize the role of free market decision making in fostering economic prosperity. They favor laissez-faire free markets, economic liberty, fiscal conservatism, personal responsibility, and policies supporting business.

A leading economic theory advocated by modern Republicans is supply-side economics. Some fiscal policies influenced by this theory were popularly known as "Reaganomics," a term popularized during the Presidential administrations of Ronald Reagan. This theory holds that reduced income tax rates increase GDP growth and thereby generate the same or more revenue for the government from the smaller tax on the extra growth. This belief is reflected, in part, by the party's long-term advocacy of tax cuts. Many Republicans consider the income tax system to be inherently inefficient and oppose graduated tax rates, which they believe are unfairly targeted at those who create jobs and wealth. They believe private spending is usually more efficient than government spending. Republicans oppose the estate tax.

Most Republicans agree there should be a "safety net" to assist the less fortunate; however, they tend to believe the private sector is more effective in helping the poor than government is; as a result, Republicans support giving government grants to faith-based and other private charitable organizations to supplant welfare spending. Members of the GOP also believe that limits on eligibility and benefits must be in place to ensure the safety net is not abused. Republicans introduced and strongly supported the welfare reform of 1996, which was signed into law by Democratic President Clinton, and which limited eligibility for welfare, successfully leading to many former welfare recipients finding jobs.

The party opposes a government-run single-payer health care system, believing such a system constitutes socialized medicine and is in favor of a personal or employer-based system of insurance, supplemented by Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid, which covers approximately 40% of the poor. The GOP has a mixed record of supporting the historically popular Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs, all of which Republicans initially opposed. Congressional Republicans and the Bush administration supported a reduction in Medicaid's growth rate; however, congressional Republicans expanded Medicare, supporting a new drug plan for seniors starting in 2006. Many Republicans support increased health insurance portability, laws promoting coverage of pre-existing medical conditions, a cap on malpractice lawsuits, the implementation of a streamlined electronic medical records system, an emphasis on preventative care rather than emergency room care, and tax benefits aimed at making health insurance more affordable for the uninsured and targeted to promote universal access. They generally oppose government funding for elective abortions.

Republicans are generally opposed by labor union management and members, and have supported various legislation on the state and federal levels, including right to work legislation and the Taft-Hartley Act, which gives workers the right not to participate in unions, as opposed to a closed shop, which prohibits workers from choosing not to join unions in workplaces. Some Republicans are opposed to increases in the minimum wage, believing that such increases hurt many businesses by forcing them to cut jobs and services, export jobs overseas, and raise the prices of goods to compensate for the decrease in profit.

Separation of powers and balance of powers

Many current Republicans voice support of "strict constructionism," the judicial philosophy that the Constitution should be interpreted narrowly and as close to the original intent as is practicable rather than a more flexible "living Constitution" model. Most Republicans point to Roe v. Wade as a case of judicial activism, where the court overturned most laws restricting abortion on the basis of a right to privacy inferred from the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Some Republicans have actively sought to block judges whom they see as being activist judges and have sought the appointment of judges who claim to practice judicial restraint. Other Republicans, though, argue that it is the right of judges to extend the interpretation of the Constitution and judge actions by the legislative or executive branches as legal or unconstitutional on previously unarticulated grounds. The issue of judicial deference to the legislature is a matter of some debate — like the Democrats, most Republicans criticize court decisions which overturn their own (conservative) legislation as overstepping bounds and support decisions which overturn opposing legislation. Some commentators have advocated that the Republicans take a more aggressive approach and support legislative supremacy more firmly.

The Republican party has supported various bills within the last decade to strip some or all federal courts of the ability to hear certain types of cases, in an attempt to limit judicial review. These jurisdiction stripping laws have included removing federal review of the recognition of same-sex marriage with the Marriage Protection Act, the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance with the Pledge Protection Act, and the rights of detainees in Guantanamo Bay in the Detainee Treatment Act. The last of these limitations was overruled by the Supreme Court in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.

Compared with Democrats, many Republicans believe in a more robust version of federalism with greater limitations placed upon federal power and a larger role reserved for the States. Following this view on federalism, Republicans often take a less expansive reading of congressional power under the Commerce Clause, such as in the opinion of William Rehnquist in United States v. Lopez. Many Republicans on the more libertarian wing wish for a more dramatic narrowing of Commerce Clause power by revisiting, among other cases, Wickard v. Filburn, a case that held that growing wheat on a farm for consumption on the same farm fell under congressional power to "regulate commerce ... among the several States".

President George W. Bush was a proponent of the unitary executive theory and cited it within his signing statements about legislation passed by Congress. The administration's interpretation of the unitary executive theory was called seriously into question by Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, where the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 that the President does not have sweeping powers to override or ignore laws through his power as commander in chief, stating "the Executive is bound to comply with the Rule of Law that prevails." Following the ruling, the Bush administration has sought Congressional authorization for programs started only on executive mandate, as was the case with the Military Commissions Act, or abandoned illegal programs it had previously asserted executive authority to enact, in the case of the National Security Agencymarker domestic wiretapping program.

The Republican party supports the status quo of the current political status of Puerto Rico, which is that the island is free to hold referendums to decide their status within the United States.

Environmental policies

Some Republicans are skeptical of anthropogenic global warming and question scientific studies on the impact of human activity on climate change, instead asserting that global warming is part of "natural" cyclical phenomenon, or caused by a number of other alternative theories. This is slowly changing due to more scientific research and increasing pressure from the international community, and in July 2008 the Bush administration acknowledged, at least in principle, the need to act on the issue of climate change. John McCain, the Republican nominee for president in 2008, was a strong advocate of legislation to regulate the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Historically, the Republican Party has made several contributions to the protection of the environment. Republican President Theodore Roosevelt was a prominent conservationist whose policies eventually led to the creation of the modern U.S. National Park Service. Also, President Richard Nixon was responsible for establishing the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. More recently, Californiamarker Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, with the support of 16 other states, sued the Federal Government and the United States Environmental Protection Agency for the right to set vehicle emission standards higher than the Federal Standard, a right to which California is entitled under the Clean Air Act.

This association however has shifted as the Democratic Party came to also support environmentalism. President George W. Bush has publicly opposed ratification of the Kyoto Protocols on the grounds that they unfairly targeted Western industrialized nations such as the United States while giving developing Global South polluters such as Chinamarker and Indiamarker a pass. Democratic President Bill Clinton also never sent the Kyoto treaty to the U.S. Senate for ratification as he also thought it unfair to the United States.

In 2000, the Republican Party adopted as part of its platform support for the development of market-based solutions to environmental problems. According to the platform, "economic prosperity and environmental protection must advance together, environmental regulations should be based on science, the government’s role should be to provide market-based incentives to develop the technologies to meet environmental standards, we should ensure that environmental policy meets the needs of localities, and environmental policy should focus on achieving results processes."

The Bush administration, along with several of the candidates that sought the Republican Presidential nomination in 2008, supported increased Federal investment into the development of clean alternative fuels, increased Nuclear energy, and well as fuels such as ethanol, as a way of helping the U.S. achieve energy independence, as opposed to supporting less use of carbon dioxide-producing methods of generating energy. McCain supports the cap-and-trade policy, a policy that is quite popular among Democrats but much less so among other Republicans. Most Republicans support increased oil drilling in currently protected areas such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refugemarker, a position that has drawn sharp criticism from some activists, but is supported by a majority of the American public.

Social policies

The 2004 Republican platform expressed support for the Federal Marriage Amendment to the United States Constitution to define marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman. A majority of the GOP's national and state candidates are pro-life and oppose elective abortion on religious or moral grounds, and favor faith-based initiatives. There are some exceptions, though, especially in the Northeast and Pacific Coast states. They are generally against affirmative action for women and some minorities often describing it as a quota system, believing that it is not meritocratic and that is counter-productive socially by only further promoting discrimination. Most of the GOP's membership favors capital punishment and stricter punishments as a means to prevent crime. Republicans generally support gun ownership rights and oppose laws regulating guns, although some Republicans in urban areas sometimes favor limited restrictions on the grounds that they are necessary to protect safety in large cities.

Most Republicans support school choice through charter schools and school vouchers for private schools; many have denounced the performance of the public school system and the teachers' unions. The party has insisted on a system of greater accountability for public schools, most prominently in recent years with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Many Republicans, however, opposed the creation of the United States Department of Education when it was initially created in 1979.

Some in the religious wing of the party tends to support Voluntary organized prayer in public schools and the critiquing of Evolutionary theory via intelligent design in science classes. Although the GOP has voted for increases in government funding of scientific research, some members actively oppose the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research beyond the original lines because it involves the destruction of human embryos (which many consider ethically equivalent to abortion), while arguing for applying research money into adult stem cell or amniotic stem cell research. The stem cell issue has garnered two once-rare vetoes on research funding bills from President Bush, who said the research "crossed a moral boundary."

National defense and military spending

The Republican Party has always advocated a strong national defense; however, up until recently they tended to disapprove of interventionist foreign policy actions. Republicans opposed Woodrow Wilson's intervention in World War I and his subsequent attempt to create the League of Nations. They were also staunchly opposed to intervention in World War II prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbormarker. Even in the 1990s, although George H. W. Bush supported fighting in the Gulf War, Republicans opposed the intervention of the United States in Somaliamarker and the Balkans. However, in 2000, George W. Bush ran on a platform that opposed these types of involvement in foreign conflicts.

Today, some in the Republican Party support unilateralism in issues of national security, believing in the ability and right of the United States to act without external support in support of its national defense. In general, Republican defense and international thinking is heavily influenced by the theories of neorealism and realism, characterizing the conflicts between nations as great struggles between faceless forces of international structure, as opposed to the result of individual leaders, their ideas, and their actions. The realist school's influence shows in Reagan's Evil Empire stance on the Soviet Unionmarker and George W. Bush's Axis of evil.

Republicans secured gains in the 2002 and 2004 elections with the War on Terrorism being one of the top issues favoring them. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, some in the party support neoconservative policies with regard to the War on Terror, including the 2001 war in Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The doctrine of preemptive war, wars to disarm and destroy potential military foes not in defense, but based on speculation of future attacks, has been advocated by prominent members of the Bush administration, but the war within Iraq has undercut the influence of this doctrine within the Republican Party. Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York during the time of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and a once prominent Republican presidential candidate for the 2008 presidential election, has stated that America must keep itself "on the offensive" against terrorists, stating his support of that policy.

The Bush administration supported the position that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to unlawful combatants, using the premise that they apply to soldiers serving in the armies of nation states and not terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda. The Supreme Court overruled this position in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which held that the Geneva Conventions were legally binding and must be followed in regards to all enemy combatants. Prominent Republicans such as former Republican Presidential Nominee John McCain, Governor Mike Huckabee, and Representative Ron Paul strongly oppose the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, which they view as Torture.

Other international policies

Republicans support attempts for the democratization of Middle Eastern countries currently under the rule of dictatorships. The Republican party takes a pro-Israel stance stemming from its Neoconservative constituency, generally supportive of Israeli interests.

The party, through former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, has advocated reforms in the United Nations to halt corruption such as that which afflicted the Oil-for-Food Programme. As previously stated, some Republicans including Bush oppose the Kyoto Protocol (although there is a section that supports it within the party). The party strongly promotes free trade agreements, most notably NAFTA, CAFTA and now an effort to go further south to Brazilmarker, Perumarker and Colombiamarker.

Republicans are divided on how to confront illegal immigration between a moderate platform that allows for migrant workers and easing citizenship guidelines, and enforcement-first nationalist approach. The Bush administration has made appeals to immigrants a high priority long-term political goal, but that goal is not a high priority in most local GOP entities. In general, pro-growth advocates within the Republican Party support more immigration, and traditional or populist conservatives oppose it. In 2006, the White House supported and Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform that would eventually allow millions of illegal immigrants to become citizens, but the House, taking an enforcement-first approach, refused to go along.

Political status of Puerto Rico

The Republican Party has expressed its support for the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico to exercise their right to determine a future permanent non-territorial political status with government by consent, full enfranchisement and to be admitted to the union as a fully sovereign U.S. state. Puerto Rico has been under U.S. sovereignty for over a century and Puerto Ricans have been U.S. citizens since 1917; but the island’s ultimate status still has not been determined and its 3.9 million residents still do not have voting representation in their national government. The following is the appropriate section from the 2008 party platform (unchanged from the 2004 and 2000 platforms).

Voter base

Registered Democrats, Republicans and Independents as of 2004.

Business community. The GOP is usually seen as the traditionally pro-business party and it garners major support from a wide variety of industries from the financial sector to small businesses. This may relate to the fact that Republicans are about 50 percent more likely to be self-employed, and are more likely to work in the area of management.

Gender. Since 1980 a "gender gap" has seen slightly stronger support for the GOP among men than among women. In the 2006 House races, 43% of women voted for GOP, while 47% of men did so.

Race. Since 1964, the GOP has been weakly represented among African Americans, winning under 15% of the black vote in recent national elections (1980 to 2004). The party has recently nominated African American candidates for senator or governor in Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland, though none were successful. The Republican Party supported the abolition of slavery under Abraham Lincoln, and from the Civil War until the Great Depression of the 1930s, blacks voted for Republican candidates by an overwhelming margin; in the Southern states, they were often not allowed to vote, but received Federal patronage appointments from the Republicans. The majority of black Americans switched to the Democratic Party in the 1930s when the New Deal offered them governmental support for civil rights. In the South, blacks were able to vote in large numbers after 1965, when a bipartisan coalition passed the Voting Rights Act, and ever since have formed a significant portion (ranging from 20% to 50% depending on the state) of the Democratic vote in that region.

In recent decades, the party has been more successful in gaining support from Hispanic and Asian American voters than from African Americans. George W. Bush, who campaigned significantly for Hispanic votes, received 35% of their vote in 2000 and 44% in 2004. The party's strong anti-communist stance has made it popular among some minority groups from current and former Communist states, in particular Cuban Americans, Korean Americans, Chinese Americans, and Vietnamese Americans. In the 2006 House races, the GOP won 51% of white votes, 37% of Asian votes, and 30% of Hispanic votes, while winning only 10% of African American votes. The election of Bobby Jindal as Governor of Louisiana has been hailed as pathbreaking. He is the first elected minority governor in Louisianamarker and the first governor of Indian descent to lead a state in the US. Many party activists hope that his ascension will broaden Republican appeal to minorities, and he has been named as a potential future presidential contender.

For decades, a greater percentage of white (caucasian) voters self-identified as Democrats, rather than Republicans. However, since the mid-1990s whites have been more likely to self-identify as Republicans than Democrats.

Family status. In recent elections, Republicans have found their greatest support among whites from married couples with children living at home. Unmarried and divorced women were far more likely to vote for Kerry in 2004.

Income. Low income voters tend to favor the Democratic Party while high income voters tend to support the Republican Party. President George W. Bush won 41% of the poorest 20% of voters in 2004, 55% of the richest twenty percent, and 53% of those in between. In the 2006 House races, the voters with incomes over $50,000 were 49% Republican, while those under were 38%.

Military. Republicans hold a large majority in the armed services, with 57% of active military personnel and 66% of officers identified as Republican in 2003.

Education. Self-identified Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats to have 4-year college degrees. The trends for the years 1955 through 2004 are shown by gender in the graphs below, reproduced with permission from Democrats and Republicans — Rhetoric and Reality, a book published in 2008 by Joseph Fried. These graphs depict results obtained by Fried from the National Election Studies (NES) data base.

Regarding graduate-level degrees (masters or doctorate), there is a rough parity between Democrats and Republicans. According to the Gallup Organization: "[B]oth Democrats and Republicans have equal numbers of Americans at the upper end of the educational spectrum — that is, with post graduate degrees..." Fried provides a slightly more detailed analysis, noting that Republican men are more likely than Democratic men to have advanced degrees, but Democratic women are now more likely than Republican women to have advanced degrees.

Republicans remain a small minority of college professors, with 11% of full-time faculty identifying as Republican.

Age. The Democrats do better among younger Americans and Republicans among older Americans. In 2006, the GOP won only 38% of the voters aged 18–29. In the 2009 Virginia gubernatorial election however, Republicans captured the 18-29 vote by a 10 point margin.

Sexual Orientation. Exit polls conducted in 2000, 2004 and 2006 indicate that 23–25% of gay and lesbian Americans voted for the GOP. In recent years, the party has opposed same-sex marriage, adoption by same-sex couples, inclusion of sexual orientation in hate crimes laws, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, while supporting the use of the don't ask, don't tell policy within the military. Some members of the party, particularly in the Northeast support Civil Unions for same-sex couples. The opposition to some gay rights found in the Republican Party largely comes from the socially conservative wing of the party.

Religion. Religion has always played a major role for both parties but, in the course of a century, the parties' religious compositions have changed. Religion was a major dividing line between the parties before 1960, with Catholics, Jews, and Southern Protestants heavily Democratic, and Northeastern Protestants heavily Republican. Most of the old differences faded away after the realignment of the late 1960s that undercut the New Deal coalition. Voters who attend church weekly gave 61% of their votes to Bush in 2004; those who attend occasionally gave him only 47%, while those who never attend gave him 36%. 59% of Protestants voted for Bush, along with 52% of Catholics (even though Kerry was Catholic). Since 1980, large majorities of evangelicals have voted Republican; 70–80% voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004, and 70% for GOP House candidates in 2006. Jews continue to vote 70–80% Democratic. Democrats have close links with the African American churches, especially the National Baptists, while their historic dominance among Catholic voters has eroded to 50-50. The main line traditional Protestants (Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians) have dropped to about 55% Republican (in contrast to 75% before 1968). Their church memberships have declined in that time as well, and the conservative evangelical rivals have grown. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as Mormons, are overwhelmingly Republican and vote in line with the Christian Right. George W. Bush received 89% of the Mormon vote.

Location. Since 1980, geographically the Republican "base" ("red states") is strongest in the South, the Midwest, and Mountain West; while it is weakest in the Northeast and the Pacific Coast. The Midwest has been roughly balanced since 1854, with Illinoismarker becoming more Democratic and liberal because of the city of Chicago and Minnesotamarker and Wisconsinmarker more Republican since 1990. Ohiomarker and Indianamarker both trend Republican. Since the 1930s the Democrats have dominated most central cities, while the Republicans now dominate rural areas and the majority of suburbs.

The South has become solidly Republican in national elections since 1980, and has been trending Republican at the state level since then at a slower pace. In 2004 Bush led Kerry by 70%-30% among Southern whites, who made up 71% of the Southern electorate. Kerry had a 70-30 lead among the 29% of the voters who were black or Hispanic. One-third of these Southern voters said they were white evangelicals; they voted for Bush by 80-20; but were only 72% Republican in 2006.

The Republican Party's strongest focus of political influence lies in the Great Plainsmarker states, particularly Oklahomamarker, Kansasmarker, Nebraskamarker, South Dakotamarker, and North Dakotamarker, and in the Mountain states of Idahomarker, Wyomingmarker, and Utahmarker (Utah gave George W. Bush more than 70% of the popular vote in 2004). These states are sparsely populated with few major urban centers, and have overwhelmingly White populations, making it extremely difficult for Democrats to create a sustainable voter base there. Unlike the South, these areas have been strongly Republican since before the party realignments of the 1960s. The Great Plains states were one of the few areas of the country where Republicans had any significant support during the Great Depression.

Conservatives and Moderates. Republican "conservatives" are strongest in the South, Mountain West and Midwest, where they draw support from religious conservatives. The "moderates" tend to dominate the party in New England, and used to be well represented in all states. From the 1940s to the 1970s under such leaders as Thomas E. Dewey, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller, and Richard Nixon, they usually dominated the presidential wing of the party. Since the 1970s they have been less powerful, though they are always represented in the cabinets of Republican presidents. New Hampshiremarker's two Republican congressmen lost to their Democratic opponents. In Vermontmarker, Jim Jeffords, a Republican Senator became an independent in 2001 due to growing disagreement with President Bush and the party leadership. In addition, Moderate Republicans hold the governorships in three of the six New England States; M. Jodi Rell in Connecticutmarker, Donald Carcieri in Rhode Islandmarker, and Jim Douglas in Vermontmarker. Former Massachusettsmarker governor Mitt Romney also was a popular Republican governor while in office.

Since the 1980s, talk radio audiences and hosts have tended to be conservative, and typically favor the Republicans. Some well known radio hosts include Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Neal Boortz, Laura Ingraham, Michael Reagan, Howie Carr, and Michael Savage.


While the American political sphere was in 2003 relatively evenly divided in terms of ideology, in 2004 the Republican Party trailed the Democrats by 17 million registered voters. Democratic commentators Ruy Teixeira and John Judis, on the other hand, say non-geographic social indicators show a trend toward Democrats. They point to the rapid increase in college graduates (who are trending Democratic), and the possible decrease in white and rural Republican bases. They also point to an increasing Democratic presence in formerly Republican strongholds such as Colorado, which as of the 2008 elections has two Democratic senators, a Democratic governor, and Democratic control of the legislature.

More recently, governor Elects Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell, of New Jersey and Virginia respectively, have won solid victories in the 2009 Gubernatorial elections. They both received a 2-1 margin of the Independent vote when compared to their Democratic opponents. McDonnell had commanding leads among young voters, suburbanites, and Asian Americans. These campaigns are seen by Linda Chavez of as a blueprint to success for GOP in 2010. Rhodes Cook argues that the political realignment in 2008 towards the Democrats was a temporary one based on extraordinary factors and has already dissipated.

As of 2004, for the most part the Republican Party had remained fairly cohesive, as both strong economic libertarians and strong social conservatives were opposed to the Democrats, whom they saw as both the party of bloated and more secular, liberal government. Yet, some libertarians are increasingly dissatisfied with the party's social policy and support for corporate welfare and national debt, which they believe has grown increasingly restrictive of personal liberties. A minority of social conservatives are also growing increasingly dissatisfied with the party's support for economic policies that they see as sometimes contradictory to their moral values.

State and territorial parties

See also


  2. The Washington Post, "The Republican Shrinkage Problem", 4/29/2009, Accessed 6/15/2009
  3. Politico, "Self-Identified Independents Surge in Poll", 5/26/09, Accessed 6/15/09
  4. Washington Post-ABC News Poll, April 21-24 2009, Accessed 6/15/09
  7. Wyeth, Newton. Republican Principles and Policies: A Brief History of the Republican National Party. Harvard, MA: Republic Press, 1916. Print.
  8. Rapaport, Ronald, and Walter Stone. Three's a crowd: the dynamic of third parties, Ross Perot, & Republican resurgence. 1st ed. University of Michigan Press, 2005 ISBN 0472114530, 9780472114535
  9. Franklin, John Hope. Reconstruction after the Civil War. University of Chicago Press, 1995 ISBN 0226260798, 9780226260792
  10. Foner, Eric. Politics and Ideology in the Age of the Civil War. Oxford University Press, 1981 ISBN 0195029267, 9780195029260
  11. p.168 Gienapp, William. The Origins of the Republican Party. 1989 ISBN 0195055012
  12. p.43 Stocking, William. Under the oaks. Detroit: 1904.
  13. Foner, Eric. Free soil, free labor, free men: the ideology of the Republican Party before the Civil War. 2nd. Oxford University Press, 1995 ISBN 0195094972, 9780195094978
  17. Cartoon of the Day: "The Third-Term Panic". Retrieved on 2008-09-01.
  18. Origin of the GOP
  19. Cartoon of the Day: "The Third-Term Panic". Retrieved on 2007-02-21.
  22. Unsettling Scores: A Ranking of State Medicaid Programs, P. 15
  24. On the Issues: Supreme Court
  25. Judicial Restraint
  26. Washington Times - House to debate court stripping
  27. Bush challenges hundreds of laws Pulitzer Prize winner.
  28. "Why The Court Said No" by David Cole, New York Review of Books —
  29. Opinion of the court, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, pg 72
  31. - Bush criticizes university 'quota system' - Jan. 16, 2003
  33. 2004 Republican Platform
  34. Let Puerto Rico Decide: An Introduction to Puerto Rico's Status Debate
  35. 2008 Republican Platform
  36. Fried, Joseph, Democrats and Republicans — Rhetoric and Reality (New York: Algora Publishing, 2008), 104–5, 125.
  37. Harvard Sitkoff, A New Deal for Blacks (1978).
  39. Fried, Joseph, Democrats and Republicans — Rhetoric and Reality (New York: Algora Publishing, 2008), 321.
  40. Affordable Family Formation–The Neglected Key To GOP’s Future by Steve Sailer
  41. Unmarried Women in the 2004 Presidential Election (PDF). Report by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, January, 2005. Page 3: "The marriage gap is one of the most important cleavages in electoral politics. Unmarried women voted for Kerry by a 25-point margin (62 to 37 percent), while married women voted for President Bush by an 11-point margin (55 percent to 44 percent). Indeed, the 25-point margin Kerry posted among unmarried women represented one of the high water marks for the Senator among all demographic groups."
  42. Fried, Joseph, Democrats and Republicans — Rhetoric and Reality (New York: Algora Publishing, 2008), 74–5.
  43. Frank Newport, "Who are the Democrats?," The Gallup News Service(August 11, 2000), as cited in Joseph Fried, Democrats and Republicans — Rhetoric and Reality (New York, Algora Publishing, 2008) 74.
  44. Fried, Joseph, Democrats and Republicans — Rhetoric and Reality (New York: Algora Publishing, 2008), 76–7.
  45. Robert Booth Fowler et al., Religion and Politics in America: Faith, Culture, and Strategic Choices (2004)
  46. Earl Black and Merle Black. Politics and Society in the South (2005)
  47. Gould (2003)
  50. Wooldridge, Adrian and John Micklethwait. The Right Nation (2004).
  51. How Huckabee Scares the GOP. By E. J. Dionne. Real Clear Politics. Published December 21, 2007. Accessed August 22, 2008


  • American National Biography (20 volumes, 1999) covers all politicians no longer alive; online at many academic libraries.
  • Aistrup, Joseph A. The Southern Strategy Revisited: Republican Top-Down Advancement in the South (1996)
  • Barone, Michael, and Grant Ujifusa, The Almanac of American Politics 2006: The Senators, the Representatives and the Governors: Their Records and Election Results, Their States and Districts (2005).
  • Black, Earl and Merle Black. The Rise of Southern Republicans (2002)
  • Brennan, Mary C. Turning Right in the Sixties: The Conservative Capture of the GOP (1995)
  • Crane, Michael. The Political Junkie Handbook: The Definitive Reference Books on Politics (2004) covers all the major issues explaining the parties' positions
  • Donald, David. Lincoln (1999)
  • Ehrman, John, The Eighties: America in the Age of Reagan (2005)
  • Frank, Thomas. What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (2005)
  • Frum, David. What's Right: The New Conservative Majority and the Remaking of America (1996)
  • Gould, Lewis. Grand Old Party: A History of the Republicans (2003)
  • Jensen, Richard. Grass Roots Politics: Parties, Issues, and Voters, 1854–1983 (1983)
  • Judis, John B. and Ruy Teixeira. The Emerging Democratic Majority (2004) two Democrats project social trends
  • Kleppner, Paul, et al. The Evolution of American Electoral Systems (1983), applies party systems model
  • Lamis, Alexander P. ed. Southern Politics in the 1990s (1999)
  • Mayer, George H. The Republican Party, 1854–1966. 2d ed. (1967)
  • Perlstein, Rick. Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus (2002) broad account of 1964
  • Reinhard, David W. The Republican Right since 1945 (1983)
  • Rutland, Robert Allen. The Republicans: From Lincoln to Bush (1996)
  • Sabato, Larry J. Divided States of America: The Slash and Burn Politics of the 2004 Presidential Election (2005)
  • Sabato, Larry J. and Bruce Larson. The Party's Just Begun: Shaping Political Parties for America's Future (2001) textbook.
  • Schlesinger, Arthur Meier, Jr. ed. History of American Presidential Elections, 1789–2000 (various multivolume editions, latest is 2001). Essays on the most important election are reprinted in Schlesinger, The Coming to Power: Critical presidential elections in American history (1972)
  • Shafer, Byron E. and Anthony J. Badger, eds. Contesting Democracy: Substance and Structure in American Political History, 1775–2000 (2001), long essays by specialists on each time period:
    • includes: "'To One or Another of These Parties Every Man Belongs;": 1820–1865 by Joel H. Silbey; "Change and Continuity in the Party Period: 1835–1885" by Michael F. Holt; "The Transformation of American Politics: 1865–1910" by Peter H. Argersinger; "Democracy, Republicanism, and Efficiency: 1885–1930" by Richard Jensen; "The Limits of Federal Power and Social Policy: 1910–1955" by Anthony J. Badger; "The Rise of Rights and Rights Consciousness: 1930–1980" by James T. Patterson; and "Economic Growth, Issue Evolution, and Divided Government: 1955–2000" by Byron E. Shafer
  • Shafer, Byron and Richard Johnston. The End of Southern Exceptionalism (2006), uses statistical election data & polls to argue GOP growth was primarily a response to economic change
  • Steely, Mel. The Gentleman from Georgia: The Biography of Newt Gingrich Mercer University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-86554-671-1.
  • Sundquist, James L. Dynamics of the Party System: Alignment and Realignment of Political Parties in the United States (1983)
  • Wooldridge, Adrian and John Micklethwait. The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America (2004).

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