FiveThirtyEight reminds us that there ARE BIG differences….
Tomorrow night, seven GOP candidates will debate in California. Their task is a complicated one: to set themselves apart from President Donald Trump while making themselves appealing to voters who largely still support him. To woo those Republican primary voters, these candidates may end up taking some positions that put them outside the mainstream of public opinion — which could hurt them if they wind up making it onto the general election ballot next year.
According to a 538 analysis, the people who vote in Republican primaries look very different demographically and think very differently than Americans as a whole when it comes to key political issues. We took a look at Cooperative Election Study data from Harvard University, a survey of at least 60,000 Americans on a range of issues taken before the 2020 elections and the 2022 midterms. We found that on key topics like immigration, abortion and government regulation, what GOP primary voters want is not the same as the country as a whole. That could box the ultimate Republican nominee into positions that are pretty unpopular with the general public.
GOP primary voters are whiter, older and more evangelical than Americans overall
The vast majority of Republican primary voters (92 percent) were white in 2020, the last presidential election year, compared to 69 percent of the general electorate, according to our analysis of the CES data. (Republican primary voters were those verified as active registered voters who voted in the Republican primary, while the general electorate refers to all respondents who were at least 18 years old. For more information on methodology, see the italicized section below.) They’re also older: Eighty-three percent was age 45 and older in 2020. That year, 45 percent of the general electorate was under 45 and 55 percent was 45 and over. There was a similarly sized difference between the Republican and general electorate in 2022.
Another demographic point hints at the different values shaping political views: Sixty percent of Republican primary voters identify as born-again or evangelical Christians, while only 34 percent of the general electorate does. It’s a group that has more traditional, conservative views on gender roles and marriage, among other issues, which helps explain the big differences we see on hot-button topics like abortion and LGBTQ+ rights.
These demographic differences mean that the group of voters choosing the Republican candidate have a completely different history, worldview and peer group from the generally younger and more diverse voters that could head to the polls in the November elections. That can shape the candidates’ views on a number of issues, from immigration to the future of the environment….