Why Republicans won’t call themselves Republicans

Legal Insurrection –

This week, The Frontier Lab published the results of months of research into why some Republicans are refusing to go by the label “Republican,” choosing to identify as anything but. I was the Research Director for this study, which applied a research approach called “Behavioral Event Modeling,” which essentially reverse engineers and maps all events that precede an individual’s disaffiliation.

In the spring of 2013 the Republican National Committee released a report, the “Growth and Opportunity Project,” providing an assessment of the state of their party that began by stating that it was “time for the Party to learn once again how to appeal to more people.”

What this report failed to do, and “Switching Behavior” seeks to address, is the generation of meaningful insights about how the Republican Party’s adherents are interacting with the brand as it stands. No matter what outreach the RNC recommends to various segmented groups, if they do not address the four insights revealed by “Switching Behavior,” their cause will be a hopeless one.

The results were fascinating; after combining the flowcharts from individuals who share conservative or moderate views and no longer will use the label “Republican” to describe themselves, we ascertained four core patterns that they had in common:

  1. Rejection of the “Lesser of Two Evils” argument;
  2. Articulation of “Loss of Hope” in the GOP;
  3. Affiliation with a new community, and
  4. Incident of perceived betrayal by the GOP establishment.

What you don’t see here is that policy differences lead the way in disaffiliation. They’re there, to be sure, most prominently captured by those who lost hope after witnessing the GOP continually nominate candidates they perceived to be weak, too moderate, or too conservative. But patterns stemming from the realization that a “lesser of two evils” argument, put forth by the GOP to encourage support of a candidate, is no longer acceptable, is a strong indicator of future disaffiliation.

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