In 2014, think tanker Henry Olsen studied polling and voting data for the last two decades and concluded that the Republican party contains four consistent “faces” (really, factions) that have remained remarkably stable over that time:
- moderate or liberal voters (25-30%);
- somewhat conservative voters (35-40%)
- very conservative, evangelical voters (20%);
- very conservative, secular voters (5-10%).
He shows how this breakdown accounts for the various presidential nominees, as the different factions coalesce around particular kinds of candidates during the winnowing process of the primaries. He is currently using this model to analyze the 2016 race as it unfolds.