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Republican Party (United States)

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Republican Party
AbbreviationGOP (Grand Old Party)
ChairpersonRonna McDaniel (MI)
U.S. PresidentDonald Trump (NY)
U.S. Vice PresidentMike Pence (IN)
Speaker of the HousePaul Ryan (WI)
House Majority LeaderKevin McCarthy (CA)
Senate Majority LeaderMitch McConnell (KY)
FoundedMarch 20, 1854; 164 years ago (1854-03-20)
Preceded byNational Republican Party
Whig Party
Free Soil Party
Headquarters310 First Street SE
Washington, D.C. 20003
Student wingCollege Republicans
Youth wingYoung Republicans
Teen Age Republicans
Women's wingNational Federation of Republican Women
Overseas wingRepublicans Overseas
Membership (2017)Decrease 32,807,417[1]
 • Conservatism[2]
 • Economic liberalism[3]
 • Federalism[4]
 • Social conservatism[5]
 • Centrism[6]
 • Fiscal conservatism[7]
 • Fusionism[8][9]
 • Libertarianism[10]
 • Neoconservatism[10]
 • Paleoconservatism[11]
 • Right-wing populism[12][13]
European affiliationAlliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe[14] (regional partner)
International affiliationInternational Democrat Union[15]
Regional affiliationAsia Pacific Democrat Union[16]
Colors     Red
Seats in the Senate
51 / 100
Seats in the House
236 / 435
State Governorships
34 / 50
State Upper Chamber Seats
1,131 / 1,972
State Lower Chamber Seats
2,973 / 5,411
Territorial Governorships
2 / 6
Territorial Upper Chamber Seats
12 / 97
Territorial Lower Chamber Seats
14 / 91

The Republican Party, also referred to as the GOP (Grand Old Party), is one of the two major political parties in the United States, the other being its historic rival, the Democratic Party. The party is named after republicanism, a major ideology of the American Revolution. Founded by anti-slavery activists, economic modernizers, ex-National Republicans, ex-Free Soilers and Whigs in 1854, the Republicans largely dominated politics nationally and in the majority of northern states between 1860 and 1932.[17]

Originally, the GOP subscribed to what is referred to as classical liberalism with ideological stands that were anti-slavery and pro-economic reform.[18][19] The party was usually dominant over the Democrats during the Third Party System and Fourth Party System. In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt formed the Progressive ("Bull Moose") Party after being rejected by the GOP and ran as a candidate. He called for many social reforms, some of which were later championed by New Deal Democrats in the 1930s. He lost the election, and when most of his supporters returned to the GOP, they were at odds with the new conservative economic stance, leading to them leaving for the Democratic Party and an ideological shift to the right in the Republican Party.[20] The liberal New Deal Democrats dominated the Fifth Party System at the national level. The liberal Republican element was overwhelmed by a conservative surge begun by Barry Goldwater in 1964 and fulfilled during the Reagan Era.[21][page needed]

Currently, their ideology is American conservatism, which contrasts with the Democrats' liberal platform and progressive wing. The GOP's political platform supports lower taxes, free market capitalism, free enterprise, a strong national defense, gun rights, deregulation and restrictions on labor unions. In addition to advocating for conservative economic policies, the Republican Party is socially conservative and seeks to uphold traditional values based largely on Judeo-Christian ethics. The GOP was strongly committed to protectionism and tariffs from its founding until the 1930s when it was based in the industrial Northeast and Midwest. Since 1952, there has been a reversal against protectionism and for free trade. After the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the party's core base shifted, with the Southern states becoming more reliably Republican in presidential politics and the Northeastern states becoming more reliably Democratic. After the 1960s, whites increasingly identified with the Republican Party.[22] After the Roe v. Wade 1973 Supreme Court ruling, the Republican Party made opposition to abortion a key plank of its national party platform and grew its support among Evangelicals.[23] By 2000, the Republican party was firmly aligned with Christian conservatism.[24] The party's core support since the 1990s comes chiefly from the South, the Great Plains, the Mountain States and rural areas in the North.[25][26] Catholics were long the backbone of the Democratic Party, but since the 1970s have split about evenly,[27][28] as well as racially, with white Catholics moving to the Republicans.[29] Mormons are heavily Republican.[30]

Along with the GOP winning 24 of the last 40 presidential elections there have been a total of 19 Republican Presidents, the most from any one party.[31] The first was 16th President Abraham Lincoln, who served from 1861 until his assassination in 1865; the most recent being the 45th and current president Donald Trump, who took the oath of office on January 20, 2017. However, the Republicans have lost the popular vote in six out of the last seven Presidential elections, as its traditional demographic is reducing as a proportion of the US population.[32][33][34][35]

As of 2018, the Republican Party is the primary party in power in the United States, holding the presidency (Donald Trump), majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, a majority of governorships and state legislatures (full control of 32/50, split control of five others); in the 2018 midterm elections, the GOP was voted out of the House, though it kept its Senate majority, with the new Congress to be inaugurated in 2019.[36] Furthermore, the GOP presently hold "trifectas" (the executive branch and both chambers of the legislative branch) in a majority of states (26/50), and a "trifecta plus" (executive, legislative, and judicial branches) at the federal level,[37] as five of the nine current Supreme Court justices were appointed by Republican presidents.[38] They accomplished this partially through gerrymandering and controversial lame-duck legislation.[39][40]


19th century

Founded in the Northern states in 1854 by abolitionists, modernizers, ex-Whigs and ex-Free Soilers, the Republican Party quickly became the principal opposition to the dominant Democratic Party and the briefly popular Know Nothing Party. The main cause was opposition to the Kansas–Nebraska Act, which repealed the Missouri Compromise by which slavery was kept out of Kansas. The Northern Republicans saw the expansion of slavery as a great evil. The first public meeting of the general anti-Nebraska movement, at which the name Republican was suggested for a new anti-slavery party, was held on March 20, 1854 in a schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin.[41] The name was partly chosen to pay homage to Thomas Jefferson's Republican Party.[42]

The first official party convention was held on July 6, 1854 in Jackson, Michigan.[43] By 1858, the Republicans dominated nearly all Northern states. The Republican Party first came to power in the elections of 1860 when it won control of both houses of Congress and its candidate, Abraham Lincoln, was elected President. It oversaw the preserving of the Union, the end of slavery and the provision of equal rights to all men in the American Civil War and Reconstruction (1861–1877).

The Republicans' initial base was in the Northeast and the upper Midwest. With the realignment of parties and voters in the Third Party System, the strong run of John C. Frémont in the 1856 United States Presidential Election demonstrated it dominated most Northern states.

Early Republican ideology was reflected in the 1856 slogan "free labor, free land, free men", which had been coined by Salmon P. Chase, a Senator from Ohio (and future Secretary of the Treasury and Chief Justice of the United States). "Free labor" referred to the Republican opposition to slave labor and belief in independent artisans and businessmen. "Free land" referred to Republican opposition to the plantation system whereby slave owners could buy up all the good farmland, leaving the yeoman independent farmers the leftovers. The party strove to contain the expansion of slavery, which would cause the collapse of the slave power[further explanation needed] and the expansion of freedom.

Charles R. Jennison, an anti-slavery militia leader associated with the Jayhawkers from Kansas and an early Republican politician in the region.

Representing the fast-growing Western states, Lincoln won the Republican nomination in 1860 and subsequently won the presidency. The party took on the mission of preserving the Union and destroying slavery during the American Civil War and over Reconstruction. In the election of 1864, it united with War Democrats to nominate Lincoln on the National Union Party ticket. The Republican Party was at the center of Andrew Johnson's impeachment in 1868.

The party's success created factionalism within the party in the 1870s. Those who felt that Reconstruction had been accomplished, and was continued mostly to promote the large-scale corruption tolerated by President Ulysses S. Grant, ran Horace Greeley for the presidency. The Stalwarts[who?] defended Grant and the spoils system whereas the Half-Breeds, led by Chester A. Arthur, pushed for reform of the civil service in the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883.

Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the United States (1869–1877)

The Republican Party supported business generally, hard money (i.e. the gold standard), high tariffs to promote economic growth, high wages and high profits, generous pensions for Union veterans, and (after 1893) the annexation of Hawaii. The Republicans had strong support from pietistic Protestants, but they resisted demands for Prohibition. As the Northern postwar 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.

The GOP was usually dominant over the Democrats during the Third Party System (1850s–1890s). However, 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. The Democrats elected Grover Cleveland in 1884 and 1892. The election of William McKinley in 1896 was marked by a resurgence of Republican dominance that lasted (except for 1912 and 1916) until 1932. McKinley promised that high tariffs would end the severe hardship caused by the Panic of 1893 and that Republicans would guarantee a sort of pluralism in which all groups would benefit.[44]

The Republican Civil War era program included free homestead farms, a federally subsidized transcontinental railroad, a national banking system, a large national debt, land grants for higher education, a new national banking system, a wartime income tax and permanent high tariffs to promote industrial growth and high wages. By the 1870s, they had adopted as well a hard money system based on the gold standard and fought off efforts to promote inflation through Free Silver.[45] They created the foundations of the modern welfare state through an extensive program of pensions for Union veterans.[46] Foreign-policy issues were rarely a matter of partisan dispute, but briefly in the 1893–1904 period the GOP supported imperialistic expansion regarding Hawaii, the Philippines and the Panama Canal.[47]

20th century

Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States (1901–1909)

The 1896 realignment cemented the Republicans as the party of big business while Theodore Roosevelt added more small business support by his embrace of trust busting. He handpicked his successor William Howard Taft in 1908, but they became enemies as the party split down the middle. Taft defeated Roosevelt for the 1912 nomination and Roosevelt ran on the ticket of his new Progressive ("Bull Moose") Party. He called for social reforms, many of which were later championed by New Deal Democrats in the 1930s. He lost and when most of his supporters returned to the GOP they found they did not agree with the new conservative economic thinking, leading to an ideological shift to the right in the Republican Party.[48] The Republicans returned to the White House throughout the 1920s, running on platforms of normalcy, business-oriented efficiency and high tariffs. The national party avoided the prohibition issue after it became law in 1920.

Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover were resoundingly elected in 1920, 1924 and 1928 respectively. The Teapot Dome scandal 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.

New Deal era

Dwight Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States (1953–1961)

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. Blacks moved into the Democratic Party during the New Deal era as they could vote in the North, but not in the South. After Roosevelt took office in 1933, New Deal legislation sailed through Congress and the economy moved sharply upward from its nadir in early 1933. However, long-term unemployment remained a drag until 1940. In the 1934 midterm elections, 10 Republican senators went down to defeat, leaving them with only 25 against 71 Democrats. The House of Representatives likewise had overwhelming Democratic majorities.

The Republican Party split into a majority "Old Right" (based in the Midwest) and a liberal wing based in the North-east that supported much of the New Deal. The Old Right sharply attacked the "Second New Deal" and said it represented class warfare and socialism. Roosevelt was re-elected in a landslide in 1936, but as his second term began the economy declined, strikes soared and he failed to take control of the Supreme Court or to purge the Southern conservatives in the Democratic Party. Republicans made a major comeback in the 1938 elections and had new rising stars such as Robert A. Taft of Ohio on the right and Thomas E. Dewey of New York on the left. Southern conservatives joined with most Republicans to form the conservative coalition, which dominated domestic issues in Congress until 1964. Both parties split on foreign policy issues, with the anti-war isolationists dominant in the Republican Party and the interventionists who wanted to stop Adolf Hitler dominant in the Democratic Party. Roosevelt won a third and fourth term in 1940 and 1944. Conservatives abolished most of the New Deal during the war, but they did not attempt to reverse Social Security or the agencies that regulated business.

Historian George H. Nash argues:

Unlike the "moderate", internationalist, largely eastern bloc of Republicans who accepted (or at least acquiesced in) some of the "Roosevelt Revolution" and the essential premises of President Truman's foreign policy, the Republican Right at heart was counterrevolutionary, anti-collectivist, anti-Communist, anti-New Deal, passionately committed to limited government, free market economics, and congressional (as opposed to executive) prerogatives, the G.O.P. conservatives were obliged from the start to wage a constant two-front war: against liberal Democrats from without and "me-too" Republicans from within.[49]

The Democrats elected majorities to Congress almost continuously after 1932 (the GOP won only in 1946 and 1952), but the conservative coalition blocked practically all major liberal proposals in domestic policy. After 1945, the internationalist wing of the GOP cooperated with Harry S. Truman's Cold War foreign policy, funded the Marshall Plan and supported NATO, despite the continued isolationism of the Old Right.

Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States (1969–1974)
Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States (1981–1989)

The second half of the 20th century saw election or succession of Republican presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. Eisenhower had defeated conservative leader Senator Robert A. Taft for the 1952 nomination, but conservatives dominated the domestic policies of the Eisenhower administration. Voters liked Eisenhower much more than they liked the GOP and he proved unable to shift the party to a more moderate position. After 1970, the liberal wing began to fade away.

Ever since he left office in 1989, Reagan has been the iconic conservative Republican and Republican presidential candidates frequently claim to share his views and aim to establish themselves and their policies as the more appropriate heir to his legacy.[50]

In 1994, the party, led by House Minority Whip Newt Gingrich campaigning on the "Contract with America", was elected to majorities in both Houses of Congress during the Republican Revolution. However, as House Speaker Gingrich was unable to deliver on much of its promises, including a balanced-budget amendment and term limits for members of Congress. During the impeachment and acquittal of President Bill Clinton, Republicans suffered surprise losses in the 1998 midterm elections; Gingrich took the blame and announced his retirement. Since Reagan's day, presidential elections have been close. However, since 1992, the Republican presidential candidate has won a majority of the popular vote only once, in 2004. In 2000 and 2016, Republicans were elected despite losing the popular vote.

21st century

The Senate majority lasted until 2001 when the Senate became split evenly, but it was regained in the 2002 elections. Both Republican majorities in the House and Senate were held until the Democrats regained control in the mid-term elections of 2006. The Republican Party has since been defined by social conservatism, a preemptive war foreign policy intended to defeat terrorism and promote global democracy, a more powerful executive branch, supply side economics, support for gun ownership and deregulation.

George H. W. Bush, 41st President of the United States (1989–1993)
George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States (2001–2009)
Former presidents Bush are the second father and son to both be elected president, the first being John Adams and John Quincy Adams

In the presidential election of 2008, the party's nominees were Senator John McCain of Arizona for President and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for Vice President. They were defeated by Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and Senator Joe Biden of Delaware. In 2009, Republicans Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell were elected to the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia.

2010 was a year of electoral success for the Republicans, starting with the upset win of Scott Brown in the Massachusetts special Senate election for the seat held for many decades by the Democratic Kennedy brothers. In the November elections, Republicans recaptured control of the House, increased their number of seats in the Senate and gained a majority of governorships.[51]

In the presidential election of 2012, the Republican nominees were former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts for President and Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin for Vice President. The Democrats nominated incumbents Barack Obama and Joe Biden. The campaign focused largely on the Affordable Care Act and President Obama's stewardship of the economy, with the country facing high unemployment numbers and a rising national debt four years after his first election. Romney and Ryan were defeated by Obama and Biden. In addition, while Republicans lost 7 seats in the House in the November congressional elections, they still retained control. However, Republicans were not able to gain control of the Senate, continuing their minority status with a net loss of 2 seats.

After the 2014 midterm elections, the Republican Party took control of the Senate by gaining nine seats.[52] With a final total of 247 seats (57%) in the House and 54 seats in the Senate, the Republicans ultimately achieved their largest majority in the Congress since the 71st Congress in 1929.[53]

Donald Trump, 45th and current President of the United States (2017–present)

After the 2016 elections, Republicans maintained a majority in the Senate, House, Governorships and elected Donald Trump as President. The Republican Party controls 69 of 99 state legislative chambers in 2017, the most it has held in history;[54] and at least 33 governorships, the most it has held since 1922.[55] The party has total control of government (legislative chambers and governorship) in 25 states,[56][57] the most since 1952;[58] while the opposing Democratic Party has full control in five states.[59]

Recent trends

For most of the post-World War II era, Republicans had little presence at the state legislative level. This trend began to reverse in the late 1990s, with Republicans increasing their state legislative presence and taking control of state legislatures in the south, which had begun to vote for Republican presidential candidates decades earlier, but had retained Democrats in the legislatures. From 2004 to 2014, the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) raised over $140 million targeted to state legislature races while the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLSC) raised less than half that during that time period. Following the 2014 midterm elections, Republicans control 68 of 98 partisan state legislative houses, the most in the party's history and have control of both the governorship and state legislatures in 24 states as opposed to only 7 states with Democratic governors and state legislatures.[60] According to a January 2015 poll by the Pew Research Center, 41% of Americans view the Republicans favorably while 46% view the Democrats favorably.[61]

With the inauguration of Republican George W. Bush as President, the Republican Party remained fairly cohesive for much of the 2000s as both strong economic libertarians and social conservatives opposed the Democrats, whom they saw as the party of bloated and more secular, liberal government.[62] The Bush-era rise of what were known as "pro-government conservatives", a core part of the President's base, meant that a considerable group of the Republicans advocated for increased government spending and greater regulations covering both the economy and people's personal lives as well as for an activist, interventionist foreign policy. Survey groups such as the Pew Research Center found that social conservatives and free market advocates remained the other two main groups within the party's coalition of support, with all three being roughly of the same number.[63][64]

However, libertarians and libertarian-leaning conservatives increasingly found fault with what they saw as Republicans' restricting of vital civil liberties while corporate welfare and the national debt hiked considerably under Bush's tenure. For example, Doug Bandow, former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, criticized in The American Conservative how many Republican defenders of Bush thought that opposition to any Bush "decision is treason" as well as how many Bush defenders charged "critics with a lack of patriotism".[65] In contrast, some social conservatives expressed dissatisfaction with the party's support for economic policies that they saw as sometimes in conflict with their moral values.[66]

In March 2013, National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus gave a stinging report on the party's failures in 2012, calling on Republicans to reinvent themselves and officially endorse immigration reform. He said: "There's no one reason we lost. Our message was weak; our ground game was insufficient; we weren't inclusive; we were behind in both data and digital, and our primary and debate process needed improvement". He proposed 219 reforms that included a $10 million marketing campaign to reach women, minorities and gays as well as setting a shorter, more controlled primary season and creating better data collection facilities.[67]

With a majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents under the age of 49 supporting legal recognition of same-sex marriages versus the opposition remaining from those over 50, the issue remains a particular divide within the party. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has remarked that the "[p]arty is going to be torn on this issue" with some constituents "going to flake off".[68][69] A Reuters/Ipsos survey from April 2015 found that 68% of Americans overall would attend the same-sex wedding of a loved one, with 56% of Republicans agreeing. Reuters journalist Jeff Mason remarked that "Republicans who stake out strong opposition to gay marriage could be on shaky political ground if their ultimate goal is to win the White House" given the divide between the social conservative stalwarts and the rest of the United States that opposes them.[70]

The Republican candidate for President in 2012, Mitt Romney, lost to incumbent President Barack Obama, the fifth time in six elections the Republican candidate received fewer votes than his Democratic counterpart. In the aftermath of the loss, some prominent Republicans spoke out against their own party. For example, 1996 Republican Presidential candidate and longtime former Senator Bob Dole said that "today's GOP members are too conservative and overly partisan. They ought to put a sign on the National Committee doors that says closed for repairs".[71] Former Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine stated as well that she was in agreement with Dole.[72] Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs (under George H.W. Bush) and former Secretary of State (under George W. Bush) Colin Powell remarked that the GOP has "a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party", commenting about the birther movement "[w]hy do senior Republican leaders tolerate this kind of discussion within the party?" and "I think the party has to take a look at itself".[73] The College Republican National Committee (CRNC) released a report in June 2013 that was highly critical of the party, being titled "Grand Old Party for a Brand New Generation".[74][needs update]

Name and symbols

1874 Nast cartoon featuring the first notable appearance of the Republican elephant[75]
The red, white and blue Republican elephant, still a primary logo for many state GOP committees
The circa 2013 GOP logo

The party's founding members chose the name Republican Party in the mid-1850s as homage to the values of republicanism promoted by Thomas Jefferson's Republican Party.[76] The idea for the name came from an editorial by the party's leading publicist, Horace Greeley, who called for "some simple name like 'Republican' [that] would more fitly designate those who had united to restore the Union to its true mission of champion and promulgator of Liberty rather than propagandist of slavery".[77] The name reflects the 1776 republican values of civic virtue and opposition to aristocracy and corruption.[78] It is important to note that "republican" has a variety of meanings around the world and the Republican Party has evolved such that the meanings no longer always align.[79][80]

The term "Grand Old Party" is a traditional nickname for the Republican Party and the abbreviation "GOP" is a commonly used designation. The term originated in 1875 in the Congressional Record, referring to the party associated with the successful military defense of the Union as "this gallant old party". The following year in an article in the Cincinnati Commercial, the term was modified to "grand old party". The first use of the abbreviation is dated 1884.[81]

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.[82] An alternate symbol of the Republican Party in states such as Indiana, New York and Ohio is the bald eagle as opposed to the Democratic rooster or the Democratic five-pointed star.[83][84] In Kentucky, the log cabin is a symbol of the Republican Party (not related to the gay Log Cabin Republicans organization).[85]

Traditionally the party had no consistent color identity.[86][87][88] After the 2000 election, the color red became associated with Republicans. During and after the election, 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. Due to the weeks-long dispute over the election results, these color associations became firmly ingrained, persisting in subsequent years. Although the assignment of colors to political parties is unofficial and informal, the media has come to represent the respective political parties using these colors. The party and its candidates have also come to embrace the color red.[89]

Structure and organization

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 chairwoman is Ronna Romney McDaniel. The chair of the RNC is chosen by the President when the Republicans have the White House or otherwise by the party's state committees.

Under the direction of the party's presidential candidate, the RNC supervises the Republican National Convention (the highest body in the party) and raises funds for candidates. 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 while the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) does so 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. In 2016, it is chaired by Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico.[90]


Economic policies

Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States (1923–1929)

Republicans strongly believe that free markets and individual achievement are the primary factors behind economic prosperity. To this end, they advocate the elimination of government-run welfare programs in favor of private sector nonprofits and encouraging personal responsibility. Republicans also frequently advocate in favor of fiscal conservatism during Democratic administrations, but have shown themselves willing to increase federal debt when they are in charge of the government, such as the implementation of the Bush tax cuts, Medicare Part D and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.[91][92][93][94]

Modern Republicans advocate the theory of supply side economics, which holds that lower tax rates increase economic growth.[95] Many Republicans oppose higher tax rates for higher earners, which they believe are unfairly targeted at those who create jobs and wealth. They believe private spending is more efficient than government spending. Republican lawmakers have also sought to limit funding for tax enforcement and tax collection.[96] By 2018, the Internal Revenue Service, which Republicans had primarily starved of resources in the past decade, had lost considerable abilities to conduct audits and to engage in large-scale investigations of tax evasion.[96]

Republicans believe individuals should take responsibility for their own circumstances. They also believe the private sector is more effective in helping the poor through charity than the government is through welfare programs and that social assistance programs often cause government dependency. 2016 and 2017 polls also found that an overwhelming majority of Republicans support protectionism and autarky and oppose free trade.[97][98][99]

Republicans believe corporations should be able to establish their own employment practices, including benefits and wages, with the free market deciding the price of work. Since the 1920s, Republicans have generally been opposed by labor union organizations and members. At the national level, Republicans supported the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which gives workers the right not to participate in unions. Modern Republicans at the state level generally support various "right-to-work" laws that weaken unions.[100]

Most Republicans tend to oppose increases in the minimum wage, believing that such increases hurt businesses by forcing them to cut and outsource jobs and pass costs along to consumers.

The party opposes a single-payer health care system, claiming such a system constitutes socialized medicine. The party was originally opposed to the Affordable Care Act, but once the law grew in popularity with voters, some[who?] Republicans softened their opposition.[101] The Republican Party has a mixed record of supporting the historically popular Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs.[102]

Separation of powers and balance of powers

Many contemporary Republicans voice support of strict constructionism, the judicial philosophy that the Constitution should be interpreted as close to the original intent as is practicable.[103]

Republicans believe in federalism, with limitations on federal authorities and a larger role for states. As such, they often take a less expansive reading of congressional power under the Commerce Clause.

Environmental policies

Historically, progressive leaders in the Republican Party supported environmental protection. Republican President Theodore Roosevelt was a prominent conservationist whose policies eventually led to the creation of the National Park Service.[104] While Republican President Richard Nixon was not an environmentalist, he signed legislation to create the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 and had a comprehensive environmental program.[105] However, this position has changed since the 1980s and the administration of President Ronald Reagan, who labeled environmental regulations a burden on the economy.[106] Since then, Republicans have increasingly taken positions against environmental regulation.[107][108]

Since the 1990s, a significant part of the American conservative movement has worked to challenge climate science and climate policy.[106] While the scientific consensus for human activity created climate-warming is around 97%,[109] according to a Pew Research survey 44% of American adults in the general public acknowledged human activity as the cause of climate change and 23% of Republicans.[110] Republican views on global warming and scientific consensus on climate change show a similar trend and few Republican lawmakers support climate policy that builds on international consensus.[106]

In 2006, then California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger broke from Republican orthodoxy to sign several bills imposing caps on carbon emissions in California. Then President George W. Bush opposed mandatory caps at a national level. Bush's decision not to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant was challenged in the supreme court by 12 states,[111] with the court ruling against the Bush administration in 2007.[112] Bush also publicly opposed ratification of the Kyoto Protocols[106][113] which sought to limit greenhouse gas emissions and thereby combat climate change, a decision heavily criticized by climate scientists.[114]

Senator John McCain also previously proposed laws regulating carbon emissions, such as the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act, although his position on climate change is unusual among high-ranking party members.[106] Some Republican candidates have supported the development of alternative fuels in order to achieve energy independence for the United States. The Republican Party rejects cap-and-trade policy to limit carbon emissions.[115] Some Republicans support increased oil drilling in protected areas such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a position that has drawn criticism from activists.[116]

Many Republicans during the presidency of Barack Obama had opposed then President's new environmental regulations, such as those on carbon emissions from coal. In particular, many Republicans support building the Keystone Pipeline, which is supported by businesses, but opposed by indigenous peoples' groups and environmental activists.[117][118][119]

The Republican Party is unique in denying anthropogenic climate change among conservative political parties across the Western world.[120][121] From 2008 to 2017, the Republican Party went from "debating how to combat human-caused climate change to arguing that it does not exist", according to The New York Times.[122] In 2011, "more than half of the Republicans in the House and three-quarters of Republican senators" said "that the threat of global warming, as a man-made and highly threatening phenomenon, is at best an exaggeration and at worst an utter 'hoax'", according to Judith Warner writing in The New York Times Magazine.[123] In 2014, more than 55% of congressional Republicans were climate change deniers, according to NBC News.[124][125] According to PolitiFact in May 2014, "relatively few Republican members of Congress...accept the prevailing scientific conclusion that global warming is both real and man-made...eight out of 278, or about 3 percent".[126][127]

In 2014, Democrats scored 87% and Republican 4% on the National Environmental Scorecard of the League of Conservation Voters.[128] In 2016, the average House Republican score was 5%; the average Senate Republican score was 14%; the average House Democrat score was 94%; and the average Senate Democrat score was 95%.[129]


Republicans are divided on how to confront illegal immigration between a platform that allows for migrant workers and a path to citizenship (supported by establishment types), versus a position focused on securing the border and deporting illegal immigrants (supported by populists). In 2006, the White House supported and Republican-led Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform that would eventually allow millions of illegal immigrants to become citizens, but the House (also led by Republicans) did not advance the bill.[130]

After the defeat in the 2012 presidential election, particularly among Latinos, several Republicans advocated a friendlier approach to immigrants. However, in 2016 the field of candidates took a sharp position against illegal immigration, with leading candidate Donald Trump proposing building a wall along the southern border.

Proposals calling for immigration reform with a path to citizenship have attracted broad Republican support in some[which?] polls. In a 2013 poll, 60% of Republicans supported the pathway concept.[131]

Foreign policy and national defense

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

Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, many[who?] in the party have supported neoconservative policies with regard to the War on Terror, including the 2001 war in Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The George W. Bush administration took the position that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to unlawful combatants, while other[which?] prominent Republicans strongly oppose the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, which they view as torture.[132]

Republicans have frequently advocated for restricting foreign aid as a means of asserting the national security and immigration interests of the United States.[133][134][135]

The Republican Party generally supports a strong alliance with Israel and efforts to secure peace in the Middle East between Israel and its Arab neighbors.[136][137] In recent years, Republicans have begun to move away from the two-state solution approach to resolving the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.[138][139] In a 2014 poll, 59% of Republicans favored doing less abroad and focusing on the country's own problems instead.[140]

According to the 2016 platform,[141] the party's stance on the status of Taiwan is: "We oppose any unilateral steps by either side to alter the status quo in the Taiwan Straits on the principle that all issues regarding the island's future must be resolved peacefully, through dialogue, and be agreeable to the people of Taiwan". In addition, if "China were to violate those principles, the United States, in accord with the Taiwan Relations Act, will help Taiwan defend itself".

Social policies

The Republican Party is generally associated with social conservative policies, although it does have dissenting centrist and libertarian factions. The social conservatives want laws that uphold their traditional values, such as opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion and marijuana.[142] Most conservative Republicans also oppose gun control, affirmative action and illegal immigration.[142][143]

Abortion and embryonic stem cell research

A majority of the party's national and state candidates are pro-life and oppose elective abortion on religious or moral grounds. While many advocate exceptions in the case of incest, rape or the mother's life being at risk, in 2012 the party approved a platform advocating banning abortions without exception.[144] There were not highly polarized differences between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party prior to the Roe v. Wade 1973 Supreme Court ruling (which made prohibitions on abortion rights unconstitutional), but after the Supreme Court ruling, opposition to abortion became a key national platform for the Republican Party.[23][145] As a result, Evangelicals gravitated towards the Republican Party.[23][145]

They oppose government and tax-payer funding for abortion providers, notably Planned Parenthood.[146]

Until its dissolution in 2018, Republican Majority for Choice, a pro-choice PAC, advocated for amending the GOP platform to include pro-choice members.[147] According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 52% of Republicans support the Roe v. Wade decision while 39% want the decision overturned.[148] In a 2014 Gallup poll, 69% of Republicans self-identified as pro-life and 27% self-identified as pro-choice.[149]

Although Republicans have voted for increases in government funding of scientific research, members of the Republican Party actively oppose the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research beyond the original lines because it involves the destruction of human embryos.[150][151][152] In 2010, a poll conducted by Gallup found that 54% of Republicans opposed embryonic stem-cell research while 40% support it.[153]

Civil rights

Republicans are generally against affirmative action for women and some minorities, often describing it as a "quota system" and believing that it is not meritocratic and that it is counter-productive socially by only further promoting discrimination. Many[who?] Republicans support race-neutral admissions policies in universities, but support taking into account the socioeconomic status of the student.[154][155]

Gun ownership

Republicans generally support gun ownership rights and oppose laws regulating guns.


Republicans have historically supported the War on Drugs and oppose the legalization of drugs.[156] More recently, several[which?] prominent Republicans have advocated for the reduction and reform of mandatory sentencing laws with regards to drugs.[157]

LGBT issues

Owing largely to the prominence of the religious right in conservative politics in the United States, the Republican Party has taken positions regarded as outwardly hostile to the gay rights movement. Republicans have historically strongly opposed same-sex marriage (the party's overall attitude on civil unions is much more divided, with some in favor and others opposed), with the issue a galvanizing one that many believe helped George W. Bush win re-election in 2004. In both 2004[158] and 2006,[159] congressional Republican leaders[which?] promoted the Federal Marriage Amendment, a proposed constitutional amendment which would legally restrict the definition of marriage to heterosexual couples. In both attempts, the amendment failed to secure enough votes to invoke cloture and thus ultimately was never passed. As more states legalized same-sex marriage in the 2010s, Republicans increasingly supported allowing each state to decide its own marriage policy.[160]

The Republican Party platform has opposed the inclusion of gay people in the military since 1992.

LGBT groups within the Republican Party include the Log Cabin Republicans. A 2014 Pew Research poll indicated that 61% of Millennial Republicans are in favor of same-sex marriage.[161]

The Republican Party opposed the inclusion of sexual preference in anti-discrimination statutes from 1992 to 2004.[162] The 2008 and 2012 Republican Party platform supported anti-discrimination statues based on sex, race, age, religion, creed, disability, or national origin, but both platforms were silent on sexual orientation and gender identity.[163][164]

A 2013 poll found that 61% of Republicans support laws protecting gay and lesbian people against employment discrimination[160] and a 2007 poll showed 60% of Republicans supported expanding federal hate crime laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity.[165] A 2009 poll by the Pew Research Center found that 48% of Republicans supported civil unions for same-sex couples.[166] Another poll, in 2012, from CBS News/New York Times, showed that approximately "half of Republicans" do not support legal recognition of any kind for same-sex couples.[167] A poll conducted in 2018 by Gallup revealed that 44% of Republicans support same-sex marriage.[168] Another poll in 2018, this one by the Public Religion Research Institute, found that 51% of Republicans supported same-sex marriage.[169]

Voting rights

Virtually all restrictions on voting have in recent years been implemented by Republicans. Republicans argue that the voting restrictions - such as requiring certain photo IDs, purging voter rolls and limiting voting locations and method of voting - are need to combat voter fraud. However, research shows that voter fraud is extremely rare, and numerous court rulings have found that Republicans introduced voting restrictions with partisan intent.[170]


Towards the end of the 1990s and in the early 21st century, the Republican Party increasingly resorted to "constitutional hardball" practices (the misuse of procedural tools in a way that undermines democracy).[171][172][173]

A number of scholars have credited the House speakership of Republican Newt Gingrich with playing a key role in undermining democratic norms in the United States, and hastening political polarization and partisan prejudice.[24][174][175][176][177][178][179][180][181][182][183] According to Harvard University political scientists Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky, Gingrich's speakership had a profound and lasting impact on American politics and health of American democracy. They argue that Gingrich instilled a "combative" approach in the Republican Party, where hateful language and hyper-partisanship became commonplace, and where democratic norms were abandoned. Gingrich frequently questioned the patriotism of Democrats, called them corrupt, compared them to fascists, and accused them of wanting to destroy the United States. Gingrich furthermore oversaw several major government shutdowns, as well as impeached President Clinton in a partisan fashion.[184][185][186][177]

Scholars have also characterized Mitch McConnell's tenure as Senate Minority Leader and Senate Majority Leader during the Obama presidency as one where obstructionism reached all-time highs.[187] Political scientists have referred to McConnell's use of the filibuster as "constitutional hardball", referring to the misuse of procedural tools in a way that undermines democracy.[188][189][190][171] McConnell delayed and obstructed health care reform and banking reform, which were the two landmark pieces of legislation that Democrats sought to get passed early in Obama's tenure.[191][192] By delaying Democratic priority legislation, McConnell stymied the output of Congress. Political scientists Eric Schickler and Gregory J. Wawro write, "by slowing action even on measures supported by many Republicans, McConnell capitalized on the scarcity of floor time, forcing Democratic leaders into difficult trade-offs concerning which measures were worth pursuing. That is, given that Democrats had just two years with sizeable majorities to enact as much of their agenda as possible, slowing the Senate’s ability to process even routine measures limited the sheer volume of liberal bills that could be adopted."[192] McConnell's refusal to allow Obama to seat a Supreme Court justice was described by political scientists and legal scholars as "unprecedented",[193] a "culmination of this confrontational style,"[194] a "blatant abuse of constitutional norms,"[195] and a "classic example of constitutional hardball."[190]


Prior to the formation of the conservative coalition, which helped realign the Democratic and Republican party ideologies in the mid-1960s, the party had historically advocated classical liberalism and progressivism. The party is a full member of the conservative International Democrat Union as well as the Asia Pacific Democrat Union. It is also an associate member of the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe,[14] which has close relations to the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom. According to the most recent Gallup poll, 25% of Americans identify as Republican and 16% identify as leaning Republican. In comparison, 30% identify as Democratic and 16% identify as leaning Democratic. The Democratic Party has typically held an overall edge in party identification since Gallup began polling on the issue in 1991.[196] In another Gallup poll, 42% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents identified as economically and socially conservative, followed by 24% as socially and economically moderate or liberal, 20% as socially moderate or liberal and fiscally conservative and 10% as socially conservative and fiscally moderate or liberal.[197]

Historically, the Republican base initially consisted of Northern white Protestants and African Americans nationwide, with the first presidential candidate John C. Frémont receiving almost no votes in the South. This trend continued into the 20th century, with 1944 Republican presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey having only 10% of his popular votes in the South. After passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Southern states became more reliably Republican in presidential politics with the Northeastern states becoming more reliably Democratic.[198][199][200][201][202][203][204][205] Studies show that Southern whites shifted to the Republican Party due to racial conservatism.[204][206][207] The 1994 election has been described as a realigning election at the congressional level as Republicans obtained a majority of House and Senate seats for the first time since Reconstruction.[199][208]

The party's current base consists of groups such as white, married Protestants, rural and suburban citizens and non-union workers without college degrees, with urban residents, ethnic minorities, the unmarried and union workers having shifted to the Democratic Party.[209]


The modern Republican Party includes conservatives, social conservatives, economic liberals, neoconservatives, paleoconservatives, populists, moderates, libertarians and the religious right.[citation needed] In 2018, Gallup polling found that 69% of Republicans described themselves as 'conservative' while 25% opted for the term 'moderate' and another 5% self-identified as 'liberal' according to the survey results.[210]

When ideology is separated into social and economic issues, a 2015 Gallup poll found that 53% of Republicans called themselves 'socially conservative,' 34% chose the label 'socially moderate,' and 11% called themselves 'socially liberal.'[211] On economic issues, the same 2015 poll revealed that 64% of Republicans chose the label 'economic conservative' to describe their views on fiscal policy while 27% selected the label 'economic moderate' and 7% opted for 'economic liberal' to describe their fiscal policy.[211]

Establishment vs. anti-establishment

In addition to splits over ideology, the party can be broadly divided into the establishment and anti-establishment.

Nationwide polls of Republican voters in 2014 by the Pew Center identified a growing split in the Republican coalition, between "business conservatives" or "establishment conservatives" and "steadfast conservatives" or "populist conservatives".[212]

The Tea Party movement is typically aligned with the Republican Party, but it feuds with the pro-business wing of the party, which it sees as too moderate and too willing to compromise.[213]

In Congress, Eric Cantor's position as Majority Leader went to California Congressman Kevin McCarthy, who had been an advocate of the Export-Import Bank. It finances overseas purchases of American products, especially airplanes. However, McCarthy changed positions after meeting with populist Congressmen and decided to support the termination of the Bank.[214][215]

Conservatives, moderates, liberals and progressives

Republican conservatives are strongest in the South, Mountain West and Midwest, where they draw support from social 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 Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, 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. In Vermont, 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 have recently held the governorships in several New England states while Lincoln Chafee, a former moderate Republican senator is an independent-turned-Democrat former governor of Rhode Island. Former Senator Olympia Snowe and current Senator Susan Collins, both of Maine; and former Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts are notable moderate and pro-choice Republicans from New England. Former Senator Mark Kirk is another example of a moderate Republican from a Democratic stronghold, Illinois, who held the Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama. Senator Lisa Murkowski is a high-profile moderate Republican who broke with her party by voting against repealing the Affordable Care Act and against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.[216][217] From 1991 to 2007, moderate Republicans served as governors of Massachusetts. Prominent Republican moderates have included former Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford and Bush Sr. as well as former Senate leaders Howard Baker and Bob Dole, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former New York City Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg.

Some well-known conservative and libertarian conservative radio hosts, including national figures such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Larry Elder, Glenn Beck, Alex Jones, Mark Levin, Dana Loesch, Hugh Hewitt, Mike Gallagher, Neal Boortz, Laura Ingraham, Dennis Prager, Michael Reagan, Howie Carr and Michael Savage, as well as many local commentators support Republican causes while vocally opposing those of the Democrats.[218]

Historically, the Republican Party has included a liberal-wing made up of individuals who like members of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party believe in the power of government to improve people's lives. Before 1932, leading progressive Republicans included Theodore Roosevelt, Robert M. La Follette Sr., Charles Evan Hughes, Hiram Johnson, William Borah, George W. Norris, and Fiorello La Guardia.[219] Prominent liberal Republicans from 1936 to the 1970s included Alf Landon, Wendell Willkie, Earl Warren, Thomas E. Dewey, Prescott Bush, Nelson Rockefeller, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., George W. Romney, William Scranton, Charles Mathias, Lowell Weicker and Jacob Javits. Since 1976, liberalism has virtually faded out of the Republican Party, apart from a few Northeastern holdouts.[220]

Business community

Republicans are 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. Republicans are about 50 percent more likely to be self-employed and are more likely to work in management.[221]

A survey cited by The Washington Post in 2012 stated that 61 percent of small business owners planned to vote for then-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Small business became a major theme of the 2012 Republican National Convention. For example, South Dakota Senator John Thune discussed his grandfather's hardware store and New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte referred to her husband's landscaping company.[222]


The Democrats do better among younger Americans and Republicans among older Americans. In 2006, Republicans won 38% of the voters aged 18–29.[223]

Low-income voters tend to favor the Democrats while high-income voters tend to support the Republicans. In 2012, Obama won 60% of voters with income under $50,000 and 45% of those with incomes higher than that.[224] 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%.[223]


Since 1980, a "gender gap" has seen slightly stronger support for the Republican Party among men than among women. In 2012, Obama won 55% of the women and 45% of the men—and more women voted than men.[224] In the 2006 House races, 43% of women voted Republican while 47% of men did so.[223] In the 2010 midterms, the "gender gap" was reduced with women supporting Republican and Democratic candidates equally 49% to 49%.[225][226] Unmarried and divorced women were far more likely to vote for John Kerry in 2004.[227] The 2012 returns revealed a continued weakness among unmarried women for the GOP, a large and growing portion of the electorate.[228] Although Mitt Romney lost women as a whole 44–55 to Obama, he won married women 53–46.[229] Obama won unmarried women 67–31.[230]


In 2012, the Pew Research Center conducted a study of registered voters with a 35–28, Democrat-to-Republican gap. They found that self-described Democrats had a +8 advantage over Republicans among college graduates, +14 of all post-graduates polled. Republicans were +11 among white men with college degrees, Democrats +10 among women with degrees. Democrats accounted for 36% of all respondents with an education of high school or less and Republicans were 28%. When isolating just white registered voters polled, Republicans had a +6 advantage overall and were +9 of those with a high school education or less.[231]


(2017–present) Republicans have been winning under 15% of the black vote in recent national elections (1980 to 2016). While historically the party had been supporters of rights for African Americans starting in the 1860s, it lost its leadership position in the 1960s.[citation needed] The party abolished slavery under Abraham Lincoln, defeated the Slave Power and gave blacks the legal right to vote during Reconstruction in the late 1860s. Until the New Deal of the 1930s, blacks supported the Republican Party by large margins.[232] Black voters shifted to the Democratic Party beginning in the 1930s, when major Democratic figures such as Eleanor Roosevelt began to support civil rights and the New Deal offered them employment opportunities. They became one of the core components of the New Deal coalition. In the South, after the Voting Rights Act to prohibit racial discrimination in elections was passed by a bipartisan coalition in 1965, blacks were able to vote again and ever since have formed a significant portion (20–50%) of the Democratic vote in that region.[233]

For decades, a greater percentage of white voters identified themselves as Democrats, rather than Republicans. However, since the mid-1990s whites have been more likely to self-identify as Republicans than Democrats.[234]

In the 2010 elections, two African American Republicans were elected to the House of Representatives.[235] The party has recently nominated African American candidates for senator or governor in Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland, though none was successful.

In recent decades, Republicans have been moderately successful in gaining support from Hispanic and Asian American voters. George W. Bush, who campaigned energetically for Hispanic votes, received 35% of their vote in 2000 and 44% in 2004.[236] 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. The election of Bobby Jindal as Governor of Louisiana has been hailed as pathbreaking.[237] He is the first elected minority governor in Louisiana and the first state governor of Indian descent.[238] According to John Avlon in 2013, the Republican party is more diverse at the statewide elected official level than the Democratic Party, including Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.[239]

In 2012, 88% of Romney voters were white while 56% of Obama voters were white.[240] In the 2008 presidential election, John McCain won 55% of white votes, 35% of Asian votes, 31% of Hispanic votes and 4% of African American votes.[241] In the 2010 House election, Republicans won 60% of the white votes, 38% of Hispanic votes and 9% of the African American vote.[242]

Religious beliefs

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 1970s and 1980s that undercut the New Deal coalition.[243] Voters who attend church weekly gave 61% of their votes to Bush in 2004 and those who attend occasionally gave him only 47% while those who never attend gave him 36%. Fifty-nine percent of Protestants voted for Bush, along with 52% of Catholics (even though John Kerry was Catholic). Since 1980, large majorities of evangelicals have voted Republican; 70–80% voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004 and 70% for Republican 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 54–46 in the 2010 midterms.[244] The main line traditional Protestants (Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Disciples) have dropped to about 55% Republican (in contrast to 75% before 1968). The mainline denominations are rapidly shrinking in size. Mormons in Utah and neighboring states voted 75% or more for Bush in 2000.[245]

While Catholic Republican leaders try to stay in line with the teachings of the Catholic Church on subjects such as abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research and same-sex marriage, they differ on the death penalty and contraception.[246] Pope Francis' 2015 encyclical Laudato si' sparked a discussion on the positions of Catholic Republicans in relation to the positions of the Church. The Pope's encyclical on behalf of the Catholic Church officially acknowledges a man-made climate change caused by burning fossil fuels.[247] The Pope says the warming of the planet is rooted in a throwaway culture and the developed world's indifference to the destruction of the planet in pursuit of short-term economic gains. According to The New York Times, Laudato si' put pressure on the Catholic candidates in the 2016 election: Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum.[248] With leading Democrats praising the encyclical, James Bretzke, a professor of moral theology at Boston College, has said that both sides were being disingenuous: "I think it shows that both the Republicans and the Democrats... like to use religious authority and, in this case, the Pope to support positions they have arrived at independently... There is a certain insincerity, a hypocrisy I think, on both sides".[249] While a Pew Research poll indicates Catholics are more likely to believe the Earth is warming than non-Catholics, 51% of Catholic Republicans believe in global warming (less than the general population) and only 24% of Catholic Republicans believe global warming is caused by human activity.[250]


This map shows the vote in the 2004 presidential election by county[A]
This map shows the vote in the 2016 presidential election by county, the most recent Republican electoral victory[B]

Since 1980, geographically the Republican "base" ("red states") is strongest in the South, the Midwest and Mountain West. While it is weakest on the West Coast and Northeast, this has not always been the case as historically the Northeast was a bastion of the Republican Party, with Vermont and Maine being the only two states to vote against Franklin D. Roosevelt all four times. In the Northeast, Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania continue to have a considerable Republican presence. The Midwest has been roughly balanced since 1854, with Illinois becoming more Democratic and liberal because of the city of Chicago (see below) and Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin more Republican since 1990. Ohio, Missouri and Indiana all trend Republican. Since the 1930s, the Democrats have dominated most central cities while the Republicans now dominate rural areas and the majority of suburbs.[251]

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.[252] 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 and they voted for Bush by 80–20, but were only 72% Republican in 2006.[223][236]

The Southwest, traditionally a Republican stronghold, is now more balanced, owing to the impact of migration both from Mexico and other states.[citation needed] While still strongly Republican states, Texas and Arizona have both become more Democratic in recent years. Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico all trend Democratic.[citation needed]

The Republican Party's strongest focus of political influence lies in the Great Plains states, particularly Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota; and in the Mountain states of Idaho, Wyoming and Utah (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 majority white populations, making it extremely difficult for Democrats to create a sustainable voter base there. While still remaining notably Republican, Montana is the only state in the region with a more moderate lean.[253] Unlike the South, these areas have been strongly Republican since before the party realignments of the 1960s.[citation needed] The Great Plains states were one of the few areas of the country where Republicans had any significant support during the Great Depression.[citation needed]

Republican Presidents

As of 2018, there have been a total of 19 Republican presidents.

# President Portrait State Presidency
start date
end date
Time in office
16 Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) Abraham Lincoln head on shoulders photo portrait.jpg Illinois March 4, 1861 April 15, 1865[a] 4 years, 42 days
18 Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885) Ulysses S. Grant 1870-1880.jpg Illinois March 4, 1869 March 4, 1877 8 years, 0 days
19 Rutherford B. Hayes (1822–1893) President Rutherford Hayes 1870 - 1880 Restored.jpg Ohio March 4, 1877 March 4, 1881 4 years, 0 days
20 James A. Garfield (1831–1881) James Abram Garfield, photo portrait seated.jpg Ohio March 4, 1881 September 19, 1881[a] 199 days
21 Chester A. Arthur (1829–1886) Chester Alan Arthur.jpg New York September 19, 1881 March 4, 1885 3 years, 166 days
23 Benjamin Harrison (1833–1901) Benjamin Harrison, head and shoulders bw photo, 1896.jpg Indiana March 4, 1889 March 4, 1893 4 years, 0 days
25 William McKinley (1843–1901) William McKinley by Courtney Art Studio, 1896.jpg Ohio March 4, 1897 September 14, 1901[a] 4 years, 194 days
26 Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) President Roosevelt - Pach Bros.jpg New York September 14, 1901 March 4, 1909 7 years, 171 days
27 William H. Taft (1857–1930) William Howard Taft, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front.jpg Ohio March 4, 1909 March 4, 1913 4 years, 0 days
29 Warren G. Harding (1865–1923) Warren G Harding-Harris & Ewing.jpg Ohio March 4, 1921 August 2, 1923[a] 2 years, 151 days
30 Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933) Calvin Coolidge, bw head and shoulders photo portrait seated, 1919.jpg Massachusetts August 2, 1923 March 4, 1929 5 years, 214 days
31 Herbert Hoover (1874–1964) President Hoover portrait.jpg California March 4, 1929 March 4, 1933 4 years, 0 days
34 Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890–1969) President Eisenhower Portrait 1959.jpg Kansas January 20, 1953 January 20, 1961 8 years, 0 days
37 Richard Nixon (1913–1994) Richard M. Nixon, ca. 1935 - 1982 - NARA - 530679.jpg California January 20, 1969 August 9, 1974[b] 5 years, 201 days
38 Gerald Ford (1913–2006) Gerald Ford - NARA - 530680.jpg Michigan August 9, 1974 January 20, 1977 2 years, 164 days
40 Ronald Reagan (1911–2004) Official Portrait of President Reagan 1981.jpg California January 20, 1981 January 20, 1989 8 years, 0 days
41 George H. W. Bush (1924–2018) George H. W. Bush crop.jpg Texas January 20, 1989 January 20, 1993 4 years, 0 days
43 George W. Bush (1946–) George-W-Bush.jpeg Texas January 20, 2001 January 20, 2009 8 years, 0 days
45 Donald Trump (1946–) Donald Trump official portrait (cropped).jpg New York January 20, 2017 Incumbent 1 year, 327 days

Electoral history

In congressional elections: 1950–present

In presidential elections: 1856–present

Election Candidate Votes Vote % Electoral votes +/- Outcome of election
1856 John C. Frémont 1,342,345 33.1
114 / 296
Increase114 Democratic victory
1860 Abraham Lincoln 1,865,908 39.8
180 / 303
Increase66 Republican victory
1864 Abraham Lincoln 2,218,388 55.0
212 / 233
Increase32 Republican victory
1868 Ulysses S. Grant 3,013,421 52.7
214 / 294
Increase2 Republican victory
1872 Ulysses S. Grant 3,598,235 55.6
286 / 352
Increase72 Republican victory
1876 Rutherford B. Hayes 4,034,311 47.9
185 / 369
Decrease134 Republican victory[C]
1880 James A. Garfield 4,446,158 48.3
214 / 369
Increase29 Republican victory
1884 James G. Blaine 4,856,905 48.3
182 / 401
Decrease32 Democratic victory
1888 Benjamin Harrison 5,443,892 47.8
233 / 401
Increase51 Republican victory[D]
1892 Benjamin Harrison 5,176,108 43.0
145 / 444
Decrease88 Democratic victory
1896 William McKinley 7,111,607 51.0
271 / 447
Increase126 Republican victory
1900 William McKinley 7,228,864 51.6
292 / 447
Increase21 Republican victory
1904 Theodore Roosevelt 7,630,457 56.4
336 / 476
Increase44 Republican victory
1908 William Howard Taft 7,678,395 51.6
321 / 483
Decrease15 Republican victory
1912 William Howard Taft 3,486,242 23.2
8 / 531
Decrease313 Democratic victory
1916 Charles E. Hughes 8,548,728 46.1
254 / 531
Increase246 Democratic victory
1920 Warren G. Harding 16,144,093 60.3
404 / 531
Increase150 Republican victory
1924 Calvin Coolidge 15,723,789 54.0
382 / 531
Decrease22 Republican victory
1928 Herbert Hoover 21,427,123 58.2
444 / 531
Increase62 Republican victory
1932 Herbert Hoover 15,761,254 39.7
59 / 531
Decrease385 Democratic victory
1936 Alf Landon 16,679,543 36.5
8 / 531
Decrease51 Democratic victory
1940 Wendell Willkie 22,347,744 44.8
82 / 531
Increase74 Democratic victory
1944 Thomas E. Dewey 22,017,929 45.9
99 / 531
Increase17 Democratic victory
1948 Thomas E. Dewey 21,991,292 45.1
189 / 531
Increase90 Democratic victory
1952 Dwight D. Eisenhower 34,075,529 55.2
442 / 531
Increase253 Republican victory
1956 Dwight D. Eisenhower 35,579,180 57.4
457 / 531
Increase15 Republican victory
1960 Richard Nixon 34,108,157 49.6
219 / 537
Decrease238 Democratic victory
1964 Barry Goldwater 27,175,754 38.5
52 / 538
Decrease167 Democratic victory
1968 Richard Nixon 31,783,783 43.4
301 / 538
Increase249 Republican victory
1972 Richard Nixon 47,168,710 60.7
520 / 538
Increase219 Republican victory
1976 Gerald Ford 38,148,634 48.0
240 / 538
Decrease280 Democratic victory
1980 Ronald Reagan 43,903,230 50.7
489 / 538
Increase249 Republican victory
1984 Ronald Reagan 54,455,472 58.8
525 / 538
Increase36 Republican victory
1988 George H. W. Bush 48,886,097 53.4
426 / 538
Decrease99 Republican victory
1992 George H. W. Bush 39,104,550 37.4
168 / 538
Decrease258 Democratic victory
1996 Bob Dole 39,197,469 40.7
159 / 538
Decrease9 Democratic victory
2000 George W. Bush 50,456,002 47.9
271 / 538
Increase112 Republican victory[E]
2004 George W. Bush 62,040,610 50.7
286 / 538
Increase15 Republican victory
2008 John McCain 59,948,323 45.7
173 / 538
Decrease113 Democratic victory
2012 Mitt Romney 60,933,500 47.2
206 / 538
Increase33 Democratic victory
2016 Donald Trump 62,984,825 46.1
304 / 538
Increase98 Republican victory[F]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Died in office.
  2. ^ Resigned from office.
  1. ^ All major Republican geographic constituencies are visible: red dominates the map—showing Republican strength in the rural areas—while the denser areas (i.e. cities) are blue. Notable exceptions include the Pacific coast, New England, the Black Belt, areas with high Native American populations and the heavily Hispanic parts of the Southwest
  2. ^ Similar to the 2004 map, Republicans dominate in rural areas, making improvements in the Appalachian states, namely Kentucky, where the party won all but two counties; and West Virginia, where every county in the state voted Republican. The party also improved in many rural counties in Iowa, Wisconsin and other Midwestern states. Contrarily, the party suffered substantial losses in urbanized areas such Dallas, Harris and Fort Bend counties in Texas and Orange and San Diego counties in California, all of which were won in 2004, but lost in 2016
  3. ^ Although Hayes won a majority of votes in the Electoral College, Democrat Samuel J. Tilden won a majority of the popular vote.
  4. ^ Although Harrison won a majority of votes in the Electoral College, Democrat Grover Cleveland won a plurality of the popular vote.
  5. ^ Although Bush won a majority of votes in the Electoral College, Democrat Al Gore won a plurality of the popular vote.
  6. ^ Although Trump won a majority of votes in the Electoral College, Democrat Hillary Clinton won a plurality of the popular vote.


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Further reading

  • 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. The Almanac of American Politics 2014: The Senators, the Representatives and the Governors: Their Records and Election Results, Their States and Districts (2013); revised every two years since 1975.
  • 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).
  • Conger, Kimberly H. The Christian Right in Republican State Politics (2010) 202 pages; focuses on Arizona, Indiana, and Missouri.
  • Crane, Michael. The Political Junkie Handbook: The Definitive Reference Books on Politics (2004) covers all the major issues explaining the parties' positions.
  • Critchlow, Donald T. The Conservative Ascendancy: How the Republican Right Rose to Power in Modern America (2nd ed. 2011).
  • Ehrman, John, The Eighties: America in the Age of Reagan (2005).
  • Fauntroy, Michael K. Republicans and the Black vote (2007).
  • Fried, J (2008). Democrats and Republicans—Rhetoric and Reality. New York: Algora Publishing.
  • 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 (2003). Grand Old Party: A History of the Republicans. ISBN 0-375-50741-8.
  • Jensen, Richard (1983). Grass Roots Politics: Parties, Issues, and Voters, 1854–1983. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-8371-6382-X.
  • Judis, John B. and Ruy Teixeira. The Emerging Democratic Majority (2004), two Democrats project social trends.
  • Kabaservice, Geoffrey. Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, From Eisenhower to the Tea Party (2012) scholarly history ISBN 978-0-19-976840-0.
  • Kleppner, Paul, et al. The Evolution of American Electoral Systems (1983), applies party systems model.
  • Kurian, George Thomas ed. The Encyclopedia of the Republican Party (4 vol., 2002).
  • Lamis, Alexander P. ed. Southern Politics in the 1990s (1999).
  • Levendusky, Matthew. The Partisan Sort: How Liberals Became Democrats and Conservatives Became Republicans (2009). Chicago Studies in American Politics.
  • Mason, Robert. The Republican Party and American Politics from Hoover to Reagan (2011).
  • Mason, Robert and Morgan, Iwan (eds.) Seeking a New Majority: The Republican Party and American Politics, 1960–1980. (2013) Nashville, TN. Vanderbilt University Press. 2013.
  • 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.
  • Perlstein, Rick. Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America (2009).
  • 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 and 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).

External links