The Republican Party | US presidential elections 2016: What do I need to know? | DW | 19.01.2016
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US elections 2016

The Republican Party

George Bush Jr and Sr and Ronald Reagan are among the 18 Republicans who have served as presidents of the US. The "Grand Old Party," or GOP, sees itself as the home of conservatism.

Established: 1854

Symbol: Elephant, popularized by German-American cartoonist Thomas Nast. First appeared in an 1874 political cartoon, in which a donkey wearing a lion's skin is seen scaring away all the other animals of the forest. One of them is an elephant, labeled "The Republican Vote."

Philosophy: Conservatism, states' rights

Party politics: Since Obama came to power, the GOP has moved significantly to the right, pushed by the powerful Tea Party movement, which grew out of fierce opposition to what they saw as excessive government overreach in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. While the movement has been more or less absorbed by the Republican Party, it is fair to say it has changed the face of the party, whose agenda has become more and more radical on issues ranging from government spending to immigration.

Typical voter: Old, white, male, Christian and no college degree. This is the stereotypical Republican voter, and survey after survey has confirmed it. Even the Republican National Committee admitted as much in its autopsy report, following the party's defeat in the 2012 presidential election: "Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country."

Party strongholds: Since 1968, Republicans have won the South in 11 out of 12 presidential contests. In recent elections, however, several formerly "Solid South" states have become toss-ups, while Mid- and Northwestern states, such as Wyoming and Utah, have become solidly Republican.

Backed by: Agriculture industry, anti-abortion groups, defense industry, religious (Christian) groups, finance industry, pharmaceutical industry, oil and gas industry.

Where Republicans stand on ...

Civil Rights: Support measures to tackle discrimination on the basis of race or gender, but reject quotas, such as "affirmative action," which they believe enforce divisions and stereotypes. Have not been supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Climate change: Conservatives like Ted Cruz have called it a "religion," and "not science." Others, including Marco Rubio, believe that it is part of the planet's natural cycle. Republicans also strongly oppose the Environmental Protection Agency and efforts to regulate carbon emissions.

Economy: Support deregulation, believing the market functions best when left alone. Like low taxes. Believe this encourages people to work more to earn more, which, in turn, puts more money in their pockets to spend, stimulating the economy. The one thing they may loathe more than people threatening to take their guns away is the government's tax collection agency, the IRS. Don't support a federal minimum wage, believing higher costs will lead companies to "kill jobs," not create them.

Role of government: President Ronald Reagan famously declared, "Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem." Republicans like to argue that the Founding Fathers intended to keep the size - and influence - of the federal government as small as possible. Or as Republican anti-tax activist Grover Nordquist put it: "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."