Fiscal and/or social conservatives have gotten more and more fed up with moderate Republican political candidates over the years, a fact that galvanized jaded conservative voters in the mid-2000s who came together to form the disparate, but united, Tea Party movement — a movement that hasn’t shown signs of losing momentum.
Now, a study of disaffected conservatives who leave the GOP reveals a corresponding disgust among voters who’ve favored Republican candidates on the reasoning that those politicians may not reflect true conservative values, but at least they’re better than the unrepentant liberals whom they aim to defeat.
This so-called “lesser of two evils” argument has left conservatives voting for the John McCains, Mark Rubios, Rick Santorums and Chris Christies of the world, only to sit through the GOP winners’ elected terms bemoaning that politicians are all the same and that mainstream Republicans are RINOs (Republicans In Name Only).
Market research outfit Frontier Lab examined the attitudes of GOP voters who’ve had enough and identified a number of reasons why they decided to check out. Chief among those was the fatigue of having to choose from between the “two evils” of traditional two-party politics, with some voters striking out in support of independent candidates whose platforms more closely reflected their own conservative views.
In addition, the study found many voters had grown frustrated with what they perceive as a lack of conservative leadership within the Republican Party’s upper echelon, even though many Republican candidates at the local level struggle to reconcile their own conservatism with the national party’s increasingly moderate platform — a platform laid down by the GOP’s centralized, rarefied national politicians, with plenty of help from lobbyists and advisers.
Interestingly, the Tea Party’s grass-roots appeal has filled a void many jaded former Republicans had found lacking, the study notes.
“Beyond losing hope and fatigue with the ‘lesser of two evils’ argument,” the report states, “former Republicans often either rejected the Republican community or found camaraderie in a new one prior to disaffiliating. We saw the Tea Party as instrumental in providing a new sense of community, but also conservative talk radio and independent candidates as other avenues to community outside of the Republican label. In this sense alternative conservative or independent communities play a much larger role than education or political action, but instead supplant and weaken ties to the Republican label.”
View Frontier Lab’s “Switching Behavior” study here.