We often think of the Republican party as a monolithic group. It probably is when you get to the actual election but the Republican primary electorate is made up of several groups. If you want to win the Republican Presidential primary, you have to appeal to more than just one portion of the Republican base. So, what are the groups of the Republican primary electorate? I'm glad you asked, lazy rhetorical device.
Note: These are in no particular order
1. Social conservatives
2. The Cut Taxes Crowd
3. Deficit hawks
4. Libertarian wing
5. Anti-amnesty crowd
6. Religious right
7. Tea Party Wave
8. Single issue, in favor of Republicans
It's helpful to look at them as if they are a series of overlapping circles or Venn diagrams. Many of these circles overlap. But if you take them together, you have a pretty accurate representation of the Republican primary electorate. If you're trying to win the Republican primary, especially for President, you need a plurality of these groups over your opponent to win the primary.
I'll spend a little time explaining each of them. When we get to primary season, both statewide and district elections, I'll do a better job showing why/how winning these groups is important.
1. Social conservatives: This should be pretty self-explanatory. But social conservatives, in general, believe in what they call traditional values. They typically favor pro-life and anti-same-sex marriage. In practice, social conservatives typically align with the religious right, as well. But in theory, it is possible to be a social conservative without sharing other beliefs of the religious right.
2. Cut taxes crowd: These people are primarily focused on reducing taxes. The belief is that lower taxes will grow the economy. So they generally just favor whoever is cutting taxes. A lot of times, they'll address the issue by saying that they are concerned with the economy. If you equate concerned with the economy, as someone who believes we should reduce taxes on everything from the estate tax to capital gains and dividend cuts. This is a general belief of most of the Republican party. The cut taxes crowd will talk about being pro-business, as well. They believe that regulations should be like taxes, low or non-existent.
3. Deficit hawks: They are primarily concerned with the budget or the deficit. They like to focus on spending cuts. Really, just spending cuts. Sometimes they'll support raising taxes, but most of the time not. They generally believe that a balanced budget will allow for a more stable and thriving economy. Deficit hawks have become extremely popular over the last few years. While George W. Bush was president, there were not as many deficit hawks as there are now.
4. Libertarian wing: This is the Rand and Ron Paul part of the electorate. They advocate for anti-interventionist philosophies in foreign policy. While they claim to be civil libertarians, they are very often supportive of pro-life policies. They are usually silent on same-sex marriage. They advocate that "less government = more freedom" philosophy. Rand Paul is the new leader of this wing.
5. Anti-amnesty wing: This has been growing with the talk about comprehensive immigration reform. When Ronald Reagan supported the immigration reform that happened in the 1980s, there was support. Unfortunately for Republicans, now, there were provisions where immigrants went on a path to citizenship. There are large swaths of the Republican party who do not support any type of path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and focus on enforcement only policies for border security.
6. Religious Right: Generally, White Evangelical or Born-Again Christians who have been instructed to vote for the Republican party. Typically, they will be extremely pro-life, anti-same-sex marriage, and talk about how Christians are being persecuted. Their main focus is the religious belief of the candidate that they are voting for in any given election.
7. TEA Party Wave: TEA stands for Taxed Enough Already. I'll try to be brief. They rose out of the election for Barack Obama and the passage of the Affordable Care Act. In general, TEA Party candidates are MORE Conservative than traditional Republicans. They take portions of all of the above wings of the Republican Party and take it more to the right. They also advocate for policies that are a direct opposite of the Democratic party or Liberals, such as drilling offshore, fracking, etc.
8. Single Issue Voters Favoring Republicans: These people will take any single issue voting issue that they feel is important and that is represented by the Republican party. An example of various issues are as follows: