Gallup: Social+economic conservatives smaller part of GOP base, but still dominant

The latest polling data from Gallup shows that while the percentage of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who describe themselves as social and economic conservatives has shrunk in recent years, this group still dominates the party.

The current percentage of social+economic conservatives in the GOP is 42 percent, down from 57 percent in 2012, and back into a range last seen during the first five years of the George W. Bush presidency.

The next largest group within GOP supporters are the social and economic moderates/liberals, at 24 percent, followed by those who are social moderates/liberals and economic conservatives (20 percent).  Members of the party who are social conservatives with economically moderate/liberal views constitute the smallest subset at just 10 percent.

As the Gallup data indicates:

The percentage of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who are conservative on both social and economic issues rises steadily with age. An analysis of aggregated surveys conducted since the 2012 election shows that the size of the social and economic conservative group is twice as large among Republicans aged 65 and older as it is among those aged 18 to 29. This may be good news for GOP candidates who are running on a conservative platform and can assume that older Republicans will constitute a sizable portion of primary and caucus voters.

With the American population aging rapidly, demography is therefore in favor of the social and economic conservatives, particularly if a GOP candidate can motivate the older demographics to become more involved in the primary process and, ultimately, the general election.

Voting rates do increase with age, but they reach a plateau of about 70 percent for those over 50 years old.  One third of the U.S. population is currently in the 50+ age bracket, meaning that socially and economically conservative Republican candidates who can mobilize even a small increase in the 50+ voter turnout rate could prove decisive.