A research paper by Democracy Corps
What these findings uncover is that the conservative base of the Republican Party sincerely believes that:
- Any criticism of Mr. Obama by conservatives is seen as racist
- Anger toward Mr. Obama is driven by doubt and fear over his agenda
- Mr. Obama's presidency is about deception and a hidden agenda
- Mr. Obama is driving government to the brink financial disaster in order to take total control
- The ultimate goal of the Obama administration is Socialism and the end of liberties
- They are an oppressed and mocked minority
- They possess special knowledge and insight that the majority of Americans do not
- There is a growing nascent underground movement organizing to stop these threats that they perceive
- The Republican Party is failing its base
"The independent voters in our groups clearly viewed these issues very, very differently.
They share the conservative Republicans’ disdain for the current Republican Party, but their critique is not that the party has abandoned its conservative principles but instead that it advances
the interests of the rich and big businesses at the expense of the middle class. They worry about
the Democratic Party’s proclivity to spend tax dollars and provide ‘freebies’ to those who do not
do their fair share, but they appreciate the Democrats’ focus on ‘the little people’ (among which
they included themselves) and the fact that ‘it’s not all about the money.’
view but no more or less biased than any other media outlet; their assumption is that every outlet
has a bias that reflects the interests of its own bottom line. FOX is no different, and certainly not
a source of special insight and information that cannot be gained elsewhere. They generally
laugh at conservative commentators such as Limbaugh (‘overbearing,’ ‘egotistical,’ ‘idiot’) and
Beck (one man called him a ‘crybaby’). When it comes to Sarah Palin, there was almost universal
agreement that she could never be elected president, with most citing her inexperience and
baggage as obstacles too great to overcome. But even more important to them, most felt she was
ultimately driven by greed and ambition more than anything else and would rather use her newfound fame to enrich herself than improve the country.
with big consequences for the Republican Party."
Read the entire report here.
The self-identifying conservative Republicans who make up the base of the Republican Party stand a world apart from the rest of America, according to focus groups conducted by Democracy Corps. These base Republican voters dislike Barak Obama to be sure - which is not very surprising as base Democrats had few positive things to say about George Bush - but these voters identify themselves as part of a ‘mocked’ minority with a set of shared beliefs and knowledge, and commitment to oppose Obama that sets them apart from the majority in the country. They believe Obama is ruthlessly advancing a ‘secret agenda’ to bankrupt the United States and dramatically expand government control to an extent nothing short of socialism. They overwhelmingly view a successful Obama presidency as the destruction of this country’s founding principles and are committed to seeing the president fail.
Instead of focusing on these intense ideological divisions, the press and elites continue to look for a racial element that drives these voters’ beliefs - but they need to get over it. Conducted on the heels of Joe Wilson’s incendiary comments at the president’s joint session address, we gave these groups of older, white Republican base voters in Georgia full opportunity to bring race into their discussion - but it did not ever become a central element, and indeed, was almost beside the point.
First and foremost, these conservative Republican voters believe Obama is deliberately and ruthlessly advancing a ‘secret agenda’ to bankrupt our country and dramatically expand government control over all aspects of our daily lives. They view this effort in sweeping terms, and cast a successful Obama presidency as the destruction of the United States as it was conceived by our founders and developed over the past 200 years. This concern combines with a profound sense of collective identity. They readily identify themselves as a minority in this country - a minority whose values are mocked and attacked by a liberal media and class of elites. They also believe they possess a level of knowledge and understanding when it comes to politics and current events, one gained from a rejection of the mainstream media and an embrace of conservative media and pundits such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, which sets them apart even more.
Looking at the current political debate, it was evident in our focus group discussions that the divide between conservative Republicans and even the most conservative-leaning independents remains very, very wide. Independents harbor doubts about Obama’s health care reform but are desperate to see some version of health care reform pass this year; the conservative Republicans view any health care reform as a victory for Obama and are militantly opposed. The language they use further reflects this divide. Conservative Republicans fully embrace the ‘socialism’ attacks on Obama and believe it is the best, most accurate way to describe him and his agenda. Independents largely dismiss these attacks as partisan rhetoric detracting from a legitimate debate about what many of them do see as excessive government control and spending.