Meet the four kinds of GOP voters

The fourth group of voters are what I call “Uniques.” They are in this election to support a candidate for a unique reason or because of that candidate’s specific platform. Senator Paul draws heavily on the Uniques, as does Lindsey Graham, though they appeal to completely separate groups. Rand Paul’s supporters are from the libertarian slice of the GOP, and Sen. Graham’s backers are from the “defense first” part of the party (combined with a small handful of folks who want him to upset the apple cart in his home state of South Carolina in order to send the race towards an open convention). Both Graham and Paul could be without a ticket to a debate stage soon, and these “Uniques” will be up for grabs. They’re willing to transfer their allegiance if their issues are understood to have another torch bearer—an effect that appears to be playing out now as “national security first” voters seem to be leaving Lindsey Graham for Marco Rubio. Privacy-driven Paul supporters have to look at his numbers and think about Ted Cruz as a standard-bearer with a shot at the nomination. These are the hardest group to attract because they are in effect “single issue” voters and if no candidate takes up their cause, they could simply stay home.

As a whole, the GOP electorate has experience with four sorts of campaigns: ’64, ’68, ’80 and ’12—lose big, win narrowly, win big or lose narrowly. Everyone wants ’80 but will settle for ’68. The True Believers really do believe their guys have ’80 style potential, but the other non-True Believers are worried they hear echoes of “Goldwater ’64” in their pitches. They will take ’68, and risk ’12 if they have to in order to get there.

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