Exploring the Other Big 2016 Question: What’s Next for the GOP?

The number one political story in any presidential election year is the race itself – the fight to win the White House. But the 2016 race presents a storyline that might be thought of as story 1A, what will the Republican Party look like in 2017.

The all-but-certain GOP nominee, Donald Trump, has shed new light on the fault lines in the party. They are not new. In fact, we wrote about them on this blog back in 2013. But the 2016 campaign provides the American Communities Project with a special opportunity to map and watch the Republican Party change.

Over the next six months we’ll be using the ACP breakdown and filter to explore the different kinds of Republicans and Republican communities that currently comprise the GOP.

Even a cursory look at the data shows the divides.

Exurban Republicans are much more likely to have college degrees (34%) and work in professional or managerial positions (47%) than Republicans living in Rural Middle America (23% and 37% respectively).

About 16% of Republicans who live in Urban Suburbs work in traditional blue-collar jobs, but that’s true of twice as many, 32%, who live in Working Class Country counties.

And only a third of Republicans who live in Big Cities, 33%, go to church weekly, while nearly half of Republicans, 48%, attend church weekly in Evangelical Hub counties.

(You can see all the county types on the map at the bottom of this post.)

Those numbers do not reflect the differences among the total population of those places, but specifically the differences among self-identified Republicans. And those differences will likely mean different attitudes on issues such as foreign trade, Wall Street regulation, abortion and immigration.

The ACP will visit counties representing different kinds of communities and use them as lenses through which to watch the 2016 campaign unfold. We’ll be in regular contact with people in those places to get their views and we’ll see how the results compare in them to 2012 and 2008 when the votes come in.

Through all of that, we’ll attempt to answer question 1A of the 2016 campaign, what exactly does the Republican Party look like in a post-Trump world?

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