- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The percentage of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who identify as both social and economic conservatives is now 42 percent, according to Gallup — the lowest level since 2005 — as 2016 GOP presidential contenders prepare to navigate the forthcoming nomination process.

Twenty-four percent of Republicans, meanwhile, see themselves as moderate or liberal on both social and economic issues, while 20 percent of Republicans say they are moderate or liberal on social issues and conservative on economic issues. Ten percent said they were socially conservative and moderate or liberal on economics.

The percentage of Republicans identifying as conservative on both issues has dropped 15 points from 57 percent in 2012. From 2001 to 2005, the percentage hovered between 39 percent and 44 percent.

The percentage saying they are both socially and economically moderate or liberal has ticked up in the meantime, from 15 percent in 2012 to 24 percent now.

Gallup found that the size of the socially and economically conservative group is twice as large among Republicans aged 65 and older as 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,” wrote Gallup’s Frank Newport. “But it would not be such good news when it comes to the challenge of energizing a broader base of Republican voters to come out to vote in the typically higher-turnout general election.”

“A GOP candidate positioning himself or herself as conservative on both social and economic issues theoretically will appeal to less than half of the broad base of rank-and-file party members,” Mr. Newport wrote. “This opens the way for GOP candidates who may want to position themselves as more moderate on some issues, given that more than half of the party identifiers are moderate or liberal on social or economic dimensions.”

The caveat, he continued, is that not all Republicans are involved in early primary and caucus voting that helps winnow the pack of GOP presidential candidates — which could swell to more than a dozen declared candidates in the coming weeks and months.

“Ideology on both social and economic issues is strongly related to age, and primary voters tend to skew older than the overall party membership,” he wrote. “This could benefit a more conservative candidate in the primary process, but that advantage could dissipate in the general election.”

Results for the poll are based on interviews conducted May 6-10 with a sample of 1,024 adults, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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