James Forsyth James Forsyth

Base politics

Lexington, The Economist’s US political correspondent whose new blog is well wroth checking out, flags up an interesting post from New Majority, the site that is leading efforts to modernise the Republican party:

“26% of the electorate is white evangelicals, and 74% of them voted for McCain.  McCain pulled slightly less than 46% of the vote, so about four-in-ten of McCain’s voters were white evangelicals.

To put it in perspective, white evangelicals are nearly twice as important to Republicans as African-Americans are for Democrats.  Despite the surge in African-American turnout and the record high percentage Obama received from those voters, blacks comprised only 23% of the winning coalition.”

As Lexington writes, “Dumping the base is suicide”.  But the base alone can not deliver national victories for the Republicans. Especially as a strategy designed to boost turnout among the base can drown out the rest of what the party is saying.

The Republicans will have to think a lot more and a lot harder than they have about how to appeal beyond the base. For instance, at the moment it is pretty much impossible to say what the Republican’s economic agenda is beyond opposition to the stimulus. It is hard to see in the current circumstances how a party without a positive message on this key domestic issue can win nationally.

PS Alex’s post on John O’Sullivan’s piece on why the Republicans should not learn from what the Tories have done under Cameron is well worth reading.

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