The congressional stalemate over repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the inauguration of the American Health Care Act should not have come as a surprise if perspectives of New Mexico conservatives were taken into consideration.
The increasing split among traditional “republican” institutions like the oil and gas industry or the church and religious organizations are testament to the changing tide of conservatives, akin to Moses’ parting of the Red Sea.
This split, identified in the 2016 Garrity Perception Survey, served not only as a precursor of the national presidential election but also as a guide for what is playing out during the first 100 days of the Trump administration.
While I touched on some of these splits in this May 2016 blog post “A Political Divide as Scenic as the Taos Gorge” , it is important to revisit some of the key items that have surfaced and will surface in some form or fashion.
Medical System – Conservatives are more favorable than those who identify themselves as “somewhat conservative” (SW/C). Interestingly, according to this quantitative study, liberals and conservatives are aligned in one group just as moderates and somewhat conservatives are aligned. Insight: National healthcare policy should play to the middle if politicians want to win popular opinion.
Solar/Wind – Conservatives are not favorable toward renewable energy; only 37 percent of residents are favorable toward the industry. This is in stark contrast to those who identify themselves as SW/C, 55 percent of whom are favorable toward the solar and wind industry. That 18 point divide is significant. Also, the SW/C and moderates are more aligned than those right of center. Insight: The Trump Administration’s unraveling of the Obama Administration’s Clean Energy Plan should focus on the political middle ground of those favorable toward the solar and wind industry if there is desire of winning public approval.
Church/Religious Institutions – The 19 percentage point split between conservatives (82 percent) and SW/C (63 percent) should be a red flare for how some social issues and belief systems are perceived by New Mexico residents. Recently, the Catholic Church, under its new papal leadership, has been reaching more towards the middle ground on some hot button language; even if it has just been in its message and tone. In contrast, some other belief groups have been pushing more to the fringe. Insight: Public opinion over current and future Republican Supreme Court Nominees, and their ability to successfully navigate the confirmation process, will need to find a way to mimic the tone being exhibited by the Catholic Church when trying to reach the middle ground.
These are interesting times, indeed. While research provides only a snapshot in time, the glimpse can help elected and appointed officials navigate difficult terrain.