The 6 Kinds of Republican Voters (2023)

The Traditional Conservatives

26% of Republicans

The Right Wing

26% of Republicans

The Libertarian Conservatives

14% of Republicans

The Moderate Establishment

14% of Republicans

The Blue Collar Populists

12% of Republicans

The Newcomers

8% of Republicans

By Nate Cohn Produced by Alicia Parlapiano and Rumsey Taylor

Aug. 17, 2023

After eight years of Republican fealty to Donald J. Trump, few would argue that the party is still defined by Ronald Reagan’s famous three-legged stool of the religious right, fiscal conservatives and neoconservative hawks.

But if the Republican Party is no longer in Reagan’s image, it’s not necessarily a populist-conservative MAGA monolith, either.

The last New York Times/Siena College poll found that only 37 percent of Republicans count as part of Mr. Trump’s loyal base.

And while majorities of Republicans side with Mr. Trump on almost every issue, those majorities are often quite slim: Around 40 percent of Republican-leaning voters support aid to Ukraine, support comprehensive immigration reform or say abortion should be mostly or always legal.

But if the Republican Party isn’t quite a MAGA monolith, what is it? To better understand the party today, we split Republican and Republican-leaning voters into groups, based on the results of our Times/Siena poll. The groups were defined by how Republican-leaning voters felt on the issues — not how they felt about Mr. Trump.

The results depict a Republican coalition that consists of six groups:

The Moderate Establishment (14%). Highly educated, affluent, socially moderate or even liberal and often outright Never Trump.

The Traditional Conservatives (26%). Old-fashioned economic and social conservatives who oppose abortion and prefer corporate tax cuts to new tariffs. They don’t love Mr. Trump, but they do support him.

The Right Wing (26%). They watch Fox News and Newsmax. They’re “very conservative.” They’re disproportionately evangelical. They believe America is on the brink of catastrophe. And they love Mr. Trump more than any other group.

The Blue Collar Populists (12%). They’re mostly Northern, socially moderate, economic populists who hold deeply conservative views on race and immigration. Not only do they back Mr. Trump, but he himself probably counted as one a decade ago.

The Libertarian Conservatives (14%). These disproportionately Western and Midwestern conservatives value small government. They’re relatively socially moderate and isolationist, and they’re on the lower end of Trump support compared with other groups.

The Newcomers (8%). They don’t look like Republicans. They’re young, diverse and moderate. But these disaffected voters like Democrats and the “woke” left even less.

Mr. Trump’s dominance of the Republican Party is founded on an alliance between the Right Wing and Blue Collar Populists, two groups that combine to represent nearly 40 percent of Republicans — and about two-thirds of Mr. Trump’s MAGA base of seemingly unshakable support.

The Blue Collar Populists and the Right Wing don’t always agree. In particular, they split on the issues of the religious right, like same-sex marriage and abortion. But these two groups are big Trump supporters. They mostly agree with him on his defining issues and they share his deeply pessimistic, even cataclysmic view of the direction of the country, including fear of the declining white share of the population.

(Video) Watch highlights from the first Republican presidential primary debate

The alliance between Blue Collar Populists and the Right Wing has left Mr. Trump’s potential opposition in disarray. Before Trump, the party’s mainstream prevailed against Right Wing candidates by uniting Traditional Conservatives and the moderate factions — both Establishment and Blue Collar. That blueprint for victory appears to be closed, at least for now.

Without a natural factional base, Ron DeSantis has struggled to maintain a steady foothold in the race. In fact, Mr. Trump leads Mr. DeSantis among every group of Republican voters identified in the analysis. The rest of the party, beyond Mr. Trump’s base, may not always back Trump policies, but it’s not necessarily anti-Trump. And the closest thing to an anti-Trump group in the party — the Moderate Establishment — has become alienated from the rest of the party.

Here’s a deeper look at the groups that will make up the Republican Party of 2024:

It’s socially moderate. It’s highly educated and affluent. It still embraces Reagan-Bush views on immigration, trade and foreign policy. And it does not like Mr. Trump.

The Never Trumpers make their home in this group. In a hypothetical general election matchup, the Moderate Establishment backs Mr. Trump over President Biden by a mere 46 percent to 27 percent.

In theory, the Moderate Establishment might seem to represent the natural foundation for any opposition to Mr. Trump. If we had done this exercise eight years ago, many of these voters probably would have backed the likes of John Kasich and Marco Rubio.

Share who support providing additional aid to Ukraine

But this group is so much more moderate and anti-Trump than the rest of the party that it’s hard to earn this group’s support without alienating the rest of the party. And on the flip side, it’s hard to appeal to the rest of the party without alienating the Moderate Establishment. It’s a problem Mr. DeSantis seems to know all too well: He wins only 12 percent of its votes, our polling shows.

The 6 Kinds of Republican Voters (3)

The Traditional Conservatives

26 percent of Republicans

Examples: Rick Perry, Tim Scott and Mr. Rubio.

Trump 55, DeSantis 20
  • Anti-establishment

  • Isolationist foreign policy

  • Populist economics

    (Video) Many GOP voters ‘aren’t as vocal as the Donald Trump supporters’: Iowa voter panel
  • Racial conservatism

  • Social conservatism

  • Trump loyalty

Of all the groups, this is the one that most closely resembles the pre-Trump Republican Party.

It is the only group that both opposes abortion and prefers pro-business tax cuts over Mr. Trump’s tariffs. In each case, it does so by a wide margin. It favors immigration reform and aid to Ukraine. It retains some of Reagan's sunny optimism as well. Only 32 percent said that the nation's problems were so bad that the nation was in danger of failure, compared with more than two-thirds of the rest of the party.

Share who favor cutting taxes on corporations over raising tariffs on imports

Not surprisingly, this isn’t Mr. Trump’s strongest group. Only 39 percent have a very favorable opinion of him. In earlier primaries, this group would have backed the likes of John McCain and Mitt Romney, who each fought Mr. Trump while he was president.

But this is not an anti-Trump group. For every McCain, Romney or Liz Cheney, there are 10 once-mainstream conservative politicians who have stuck by Mr. Trump. Overall, Mr. Trump holds more than 50 percent of support in the primary among this group. He did cut corporate taxes and select the judges who overturned Roe v. Wade, after all.

The 6 Kinds of Republican Voters (4)

The Right Wing

26 percent of Republicans

Examples: Ted Cruz, the Freedom Caucus and Newt Gingrich

Trump 71, DeSantis 10
  • Anti-establishment

  • Isolationist foreign policy

  • Populist economics

  • Racial conservatism

  • Social conservatism

  • Trump loyalty

This group of Fox News, Newsmax and talk radio fans needs no introduction. It is relatively old and working class. It’s convinced that the nation is on the brink of catastrophe. And it’s deeply loyal to Mr. Trump.

Three-quarters of this group identify as “very conservative”; no more than a quarter of another group does so. Not surprisingly, it’s likeliest to say compromise is just “selling out.” Virtually none believe Mr. Trump — who was recently indicted for the fourth time — has committed serious federal crimes.

Share who identify as very conservative

If it feels as if this group dominates the Republican Party beyond its numbers, that’s because it does. This is the most highly engaged group of Republicans, routinely making it a kingmaker in Republican primaries. Overall, the Right Wing represents over a third of the Republican primary electorate, even though it’s about a quarter of Republican-leaning registered voters.

There aren't many fissures within this group of MAGA hat owners and Trump flag fliers, at least not on the questions we asked in this survey. In the scheme of the Republican Party today, their differences don't loom especially large.

But in the past, the Right Wing has been quite divided. It most likely split between Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz eight years ago. Earlier this year, many in this group probably entertained supporting Mr. DeSantis as well.

Whatever their reservations were about Mr. Trump in the past, they seem to have largely coalesced behind him today. That's bad news for Mr. DeSantis, who might count himself as a member of this group.

(Video) John King: This candidate was the proxy for Trump in GOP debate

The 6 Kinds of Republican Voters (5)

The Blue Collar Populists

12 percent of Republicans

Examples: Rudy Giuliani, Paul LePage, Lou Barletta, Michael Grimm

Trump 71, DeSantis 12
  • Anti-establishment

  • Isolationist foreign policy

  • Populist economics

  • Racial conservatism

  • Social conservatism

  • Trump loyalty

Over the last half century, some of them have been called the “backlash” vote, “white ethnics,” “Middle American Radicals,” Reagan Democrats and Obama-Trump voters. Today, they’re an important part of the Trump base.

Whites without a degree make up nearly three-quarters of this predominantly Northern group. But the Blue Collar Populists are surprisingly moderate on many of the issues that define the religious right. A clear majority of them say abortion should be legal, and they support same-sex marriage. Just 18 percent identify as “very conservative.”

Share who think abortion should be always or mostly legal

But this group has conservative-populist views on trade and economics and, perhaps most important, on race. No group was likelier to oppose immigration reform. A full 35 percent of this group’s members were willing to explicitly say the declining white share of the population was bad for America, compared with 13 percent of the rest of the party.

Share who oppose comprehensive immigration reform

This group may hold moderate views on religious-tinged social issues, but not because it is liberal. No group valued “freedom” less when put in conflict with other values. Of all the groups, they were by far the likeliest to prefer protecting traditional values over individual freedom, even though many social conservatives might question whether a group that supports abortion rights and same-sex marriage really holds traditional values in the first place.

The Blue Collar Populists back Mr. Trump by a wide margin — nearly as wide as the Right Wing does. Indeed, Mr. Trump himself might have belonged to this group a decade ago, before he embraced the views of social conservatives to win the nomination.

Like Mr. Trump, one in five members of this group hails from the tristate area around New York City.

The 6 Kinds of Republican Voters (6)

The Libertarian Conservatives

14 percent of Republicans

Examples: Rand Paul, Jason Chaffetz, Dave Brat

Trump 43, DeSantis 12
  • Anti-establishment

  • Isolationist foreign policy

    (Video) Biggest moments from 1st GOP debate | GMA
  • Populist economics

  • Racial conservatism

  • Social conservatism

  • Trump loyalty

At first, this group doesn’t clearly stand out from the rest of the party. It’s near the middle of the pack on almost every set of issues.

But our algorithm nonetheless plucked out these voters and set them apart for one reason: On questions pitting freedom against other values, these conservatives always chose freedom.

Share who favor the protection of individual freedom over traditional values

Nine percent said they would vote for some other candidate in a hypothetical general election matchup between Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden. An even larger 13 percent of this group identified as “some other party,” compared with 3 percent of other Republicans. We didn’t ask them which party that was, but I’ll guess it’s the libertarians.

And after a second look at their answers, the subtle tug of their commitment to freedom and small government becomes easier to see: While they may be near the middle of the pack, they’re relatively moderate on social issues, relatively likely to oppose economic populism, and isolationist.

Other than the establishment, this group is the least supportive of Mr. Trump. But surprisingly, it’s not a great group for Mr. DeSantis either — a telling indication of the troubles facing a candidate who once built his national reputation on freedom from coronavirus restrictions.

The 6 Kinds of Republican Voters (7)

The Newcomers

8 percent of Republicans

Examples: Vivek Ramaswamy, or perhaps a politician still to come

Trump 56, DeSantis 11
  • Anti-establishment

  • Isolationist foreign policy

  • Populist economics

  • Racial conservatism

  • Social conservatism

  • Trump loyalty

This is the youngest and most diverse group of Republicans. Just 59 percent are white, and 18 percent are Hispanic. More than a quarter are 18 to 29.

Nearly three-quarters identify as moderates or liberals. They overwhelmingly support immigration reform and say society should accept the identity of transgender people.

With these characteristics, it can be hard to see why these voters are Republican-leaners at all. But unlike the similarly moderate establishment, this is an unequivocally Republican group. They back Mr. Trump against President Biden and they’re deeply unhappy with the state of the country: Nearly 90 percent said the economy was poor, placing them just behind the Right Wing in their economic pessimism. A similar number said the country was heading in the wrong direction.

Share who want a candidate who would fight corporations that promote woke left ideology

(Video) House erupts in disorder after Republicans censure top Democrat Adam Schiff, in rare move

So while they may not be conservatives in any traditional sense, they’re certainly not happy with Democrats. They were the likeliest group to say they would rather back a candidate who focused on fighting the radical “woke” left than one focused on protecting law and order. By a two-to-one margin, they said they would rather vote for a candidate who promised to stop “woke” business, rather than a candidate who said businesses should have the freedom to decide what to support.

They’re the smallest group of Republicans today, but this group of relatively moderate but anti-woke voters might play an important role in the Republican Party in the years ahead.


Where was Republican debate? ›

Donald Trump's legal issues were one of the many topics featured in last night's Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee, even though the former president himself chose to skip it. A total of eight other candidates took the stage, in hopes of establishing themselves as viable contenders for the GOP nomination.

How many members of the Republican Party are there? ›

Republican Party (United States)
Republican Party
Women's wingNational Federation of Republican Women
LGBT wingLog Cabin Republicans
Overseas wingRepublicans Overseas
Membership (2022)36,019,694
29 more rows

What were the Republican Party forms? ›

The Party began as a coalition of anti-slavery Conscience Whigs such as Zachariah Chandler and Free Soilers such as Salmon P. Chase. The first anti-Nebraska local meeting where "Republican" was suggested as a name for a new anti-slavery party was held in a Ripon, Wisconsin schoolhouse on March 20, 1854.

Who is in the Republican primary? ›

The candidates that qualified for the debate where: Doug Burgum, Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Asa Hutchinson, Mike Pence, Vivek Ramaswamy, Tim Scott, and Donald Trump.

Who was in the first Republican debate? ›

Largely ignored for two hours by his lower-polling rivals on Wednesday, the Florida governor watched as the first debate of the GOP primary turned into a pile on Vivek Ramaswamy, the 38-year-old biotech entrepreneur rising in polls. Mike Pence tangled with Ramaswamy. So did Nikki Haley and Chris Christie.

Who is hosting the 2nd Republican debate? ›

Presidential debate season is officially in full swing, with Fox set to host its second GOP primary debate next month.

What are the 7 political parties? ›

Today, America is a multi-party system. The Democratic Party and the Republican Party are the most powerful. Yet other parties, such as the Reform, Libertarian, Socialist, Natural Law, Constitution, and Green Parties can promote candidates in a presidential election.

Which is the largest and strongest political party in the world? ›

Parties with over 50 million members
1Bharatiya Janata Party Indian People's PartyBJP
2Chinese Communist PartyCCP CPC

What do Republicans believe? ›

The positions of the Republican Party have evolved over time. Currently, the party's fiscal conservatism includes support for lower taxes, small government conservatism, free market capitalism, free trade, deregulation of corporations, and restrictions on labor unions.

Was the Republican Party a liberal? ›

In its early years, the Republican Party was considered quite liberal, while the Democrats were known for staunch conservatism. This is the exact opposite of how each party would be described today. This change did not happen overnight, however.

Was Abraham Lincoln a Republican or Democrat? ›

On November 6, 1860, Lincoln was elected the 16th president of the United States, beating Douglas, Breckinridge, and Bell. He was the first president from the Republican Party.

Does GOP stand for? ›

GOP stands for Grand Old Party, a nickname for the Republican Party of the United States of America.

Who runs the primaries? ›

State primaries are run by state and local governments. Voting happens through secret ballot. Caucuses are private meetings run by political parties. They are held at the county, district, or precinct level.

Who are all the Republicans in Congress? ›

  • Kevin McCarthy. Speaker of the House.
  • Steve Scalise. Majority Leader.
  • Tom Emmer. Majority Whip.
  • Elise Stefanik. House Republican Conference Chair.
  • Gary Palmer. Republican Policy Chair.
  • Mike Johnson. House Republican Conference Vice-Chair.
  • Lisa McClain. House Republican Conference Secretary.
  • Guy Reschenthaler. Deputy Whip.

Who is leading in the Republican polls? ›

Updating average for each Republican candidate in 2024 primary polls, accounting for each poll's recency, sample size, methodology and house effects.
  • Trump52.0%
  • DeSantis14.7%
  • Ramaswamy9.9%
  • Pence4.1%
  • Haley3.8%
  • Scott3.7%
  • Christie3.4%
  • Hutchinson0.7%

Who hosted Republican debate? ›

The debate was also the highest-rated non-sports cable telecast of the year in total viewers, overtaking Paramount's “Yellowstone,” which had 8.2 million viewers, according to Fox News. The debate was moderated by Fox News hosts Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier.

Where were Democratic Republicans located? ›

The Democratic-Republicans were strongest in the South and the western frontier, and weakest in New England.

Where was the Republican Party founded? ›

Where were the Democratic Republicans popular? ›

The Federalists largely represented New England and Mid-Atlantic states, while the Democratic Republicans were dominant in the South. Although senators tended to vote along these party lines, they did not establish formal party organizations in the Senate.


1. Watch highlights from the first Republican presidential primary debate
(NBC News)
2. Republican presidential debate analysis: CBS News' John Dickerson on takeaways
(CBS Mornings)
3. 8 Republican presidential hopefuls prep for a debate without Trump
(CBS Evening News)
4. Every single Republican voted against the American people
(The Democrats)
5. Trump says he'll skip first Republican primary debate
(CBS News)
6. Top Takeaways From First Republican Presidential Debate For 2024 Elections | Insider News
(Insider News)


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