As the GOP struggles to define itself in the face of its own considerable image problems, a new poll indicates that the Republican party's base fundamentally lacks diversity.
The poll, released today by Gallup, shows that a staggering 89% of the GOP is white, and that 63% identify as conservatives. It is, in the words of the poll's author, "first and foremost a political entity dominated by white Americans."
In contrast, the poll found that around 36% of Democrats are non-white. Of the 64% of Democrats who are white, the poll found that about half lean toward a moderate or liberal ideological position.
The poll also suggests that Republicans are more religious than either Democrats or Independents, with about half of those polled identifying as "strongly religious."
The poll is particularly significant given the increasingly weak position of the GOP itself. As the author writes:
A great deal of attention has been paid to the plight of Republicans who at this juncture in history find themselves not controlling the presidency, the House, or the Senate....
The data reviewed here highlight an essential dilemma the Republicans face as they ponder their future. The Republican Party's constituency is overwhelmingly white -- and the significant majority of those whites are ideologically conservative, while a majority are highly religious, as defined by church attendance...
Does the Republican Party in essence "stick to the knitting" and cling to its core conservative principles? Or should the Republicans make an effort to expand their base -- among whites who are moderate or less religious, and/or the various nonwhite groups who to this point are largely ignoring the Republican Party in favor of the Democrats? The decision the party makes in response to this question could be pivotal in helping determine its future.
Republican Pat Buchanan acknowledged recently that there is a "real demographic problem with the Republican Party. It is a heavily white party."