The Republican coalition is often described as a three-legged stool made up of foreign policy, social issue and fiscal conservatives. It’s an apt metaphor because it captures the fact that all three legs need to be secure in order for the party to keep from collapsing.
For most of the last two decades, foreign policy (strong defense) and social (traditional values) conservatives have at various times been blamed for Republican defeats. But fiscal conservatism (lower and fewer taxes; less government spending) has always escaped from Republican losses unscathed.
2012 produced a different outcome. Everyone agrees that the 2012 election was about the economy, and that Republicans suffered a drubbing.
I’m a fiscal conservative who believes in lower taxes and entitlement program reform. But politically, these issues appear to be the weakest leg of the Republican coalition. The public is more than willing to raise taxes on the rich, and they don’t want cuts in Social Security and Medicare.
Despite the unpopularity of these ideas, various Republican office holders and pundits continue to blame social issues for election defeats.
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