The Corner

Politics & Policy

The Axes of Politics

In response to A Reevaluation of the U.S. Party System’s Stability

Reihan mentions two possible futures for American politics:

In the first, the chief dividing line in our politics will be cultural, in which case the 26.3 percent of Democrats who, on cultural issues, lean toward the Republican party will switch affiliation, as will the 18.5 percent of Republicans who are more comfortable with the cultural stance of the Democratic party. Both parties would, in this scenario, be more internally divided on economic policy. In the second future, the 24.3 percent of Republicans who are in favor of a larger government, the raison d’être for the Democratic party, will defect to the Democrats while the 11 percent of Democrats who are in favor of a smaller government will move in the opposite direction.

Reihan doesn’t draw out two implications that I think he would agree follow. First, these numbers suggest — though they do not prove! — that conservatives would dominate a politics that turns on cultural issues while liberals would fare better in an economics-focused politics. Second, the scenario of Republican dominance would happen only if all socially conservative nonwhite voters start voting with Republicans.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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