Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Talk Radio Influencing Presidential Race

Where top Republican candidates stand in the national polls, according to the Real Clear Politics average
Some 98% of conservative talk radio listeners think the country is headed in the wrong direction, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in late October.

That view, according to The Wall Street Journal,  is regularly reinforced on the airwaves by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and other talk-radio hosts who don’t have much nice to say about GOP leaders in Washington, either.

A decade ago, Republicans touted conservative talk radio as a foolproof medium to communicate directly with their most ardent supporters. Democrats and liberal groups tried to replicate that success by building their own left-leaning television and radio stations, with far less success.

Now, the tables have turned. Republican leaders in Washington are under siege from their own activists, in part, because conservative radio hosts are almost as likely to rail against the party brass in Congress as they are to lament Mr. Obama’s failings in the Oval Office.

Those views are informing the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

The most avid conservative talk-radio listeners ranked retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson as their top pick, followed by celebrity businessman Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Just 3% gave the nod to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the heir to the party’s longest-standing political dynasty, and only a third of these voters said they were even open to voting for Mr. Bush, down from half in September.

Republican presidential contenders would be unwise to write off this bloc; roughly a third of Republican primary voters strongly identify with conservative talk radio, about 10 percentage points higher than the share of GOP primary voters who consider themselves moderate or liberal, according to the survey conducted by the Democrats at Hart Research Associates and the Republicans at Public Opinion Research.

It’s hardly a surprise that these anti-establishment views have upended the GOP – and made compromise in Washington that much harder – but the extent of shift will continue to reverberate for years to come in how Republicans deal with issues including foreign policy, taxes and regulation.

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