Republican Party divide increasingly a matter of region
The budget battles rocking the capital have exposed a deepening fault line within an already fractured Republican Party: the divide between the GOP’s solid Southern base and the rest of the country.
That regional split became evident when members of the House of Representatives cast votes last week on a budget deal designed to avoid massive tax hikes and spending cuts: Almost 90% of Southern Republicans voted against the “fiscal-cliff” compromise. At the same time, a majority of Republican representatives from outside the South supported the deal, which was approved in large part because of overwhelming Democratic support.
In particular, the South’s preeminence could pose challenges to national GOP efforts to broaden the party’s appeal on social and cultural issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.
“An increasing challenge for Northeastern Republicans, and West Coast Republicans, for that matter, is the growing perception among their constituents that the Republican Party is predominantly a Southern and rural party,” said Dan Schnur, a former GOP campaign strategist who directs the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. “There’s always been a political and cultural disconnect between the South and the rest of the country. But as the parties have sorted themselves out geographically over the last few decades, the size of that gap has increased.”
To an unprecedented degree, today’s Republican majority in the House is centered in the states of the old Confederacy. The GOP enjoys a 57-seat advantage across the 11-state region that stretches from Texas to Virginia.
I don’t see any way for the GOP to work itself out of this hole other than by splitting into two different parties. Until they do, things are just going to keep getting uglier until something gives.