This Graph Shows How Rapidly Republican Values Are Shifting

December 14th 2016

Mike Rothschild

According to a new Economist/YouGov poll, the once-staunchly anti-Russian Republican Party has embraced Vladimir Putin to an unprecedented degree:

The numbers, tweeted by YouGov Elections editor William Jordan, show that both Republicans and Democrats still hold an unfavorable view of the Russian president. However, it appears that GOP sentiment has swung dramatically in the favor of Putin over the course of the 2016 presidential presidential campaign.

In July 2014, Republicans who viewed Putin unfavorably outnumbered those who favored him by 62 percent. As of December of 2016, that margin had shrunk all the way to 10 percent.

What Changed?

Donald Trump has spoken openly about his willingness to coordinate with Russia to fight the Islamic State, asking "Wouldn't it be nice if we got together with Russia and knocked the hell out of ISIS?"

Trump also used his most recent press conference, which was held in July, to call on Russia to hack presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's private email server to find the "missing 30,000 emails" Republicans believed she'd deleted rather than turned over to the FBI.

"Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said. He also claimed he'd "look into" recognizing Russia's claim over Crimea, and has questioned the United States' commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which aims to keep in check Russian expansion.

Subsequently, and with Trump's official stamp of approval, Republican views of both Putin and Russia became substantially more positive.

For Republicans of another age, who supported Ronald Reagan's staunch anti-communism, embracing Russia and its KGB-trained president would be unthinkable. But Trump's ascension has transformed the "Party of Reagan" into the Party of Trump, as even staunch conservatives have conceded.

And the shifting bedrock of Republicans doesn't only involve Russia.

For decades, the Republican Party's official stance has been to support the free market and oppose government intervention in the affairs of businesses. But since Trump's anointing as de facto head of the party, that's changed as well. Another YouGov poll found that more Republicans than Democrats agree with the assertion that "the free market has been sorting out the economy and America is losing."

Republican lawmakers who vociferously attacked President Obama's stimulus plan, auto industry bailout, and infrastructure spending initiatives seem like they've had a sudden change of heart. Most are now supporting Trump's protectionist tariffs (a huge no-no to free market supporters), federal infrastructure repair plans, and government handouts to businesses; GOP lawmakers who likely would have fought hard against Trump's deal with Carrier instead praised it.

The party's opposition to free trade in general has done a total reversal since Trump's presidential run began, with a Pew poll finding the numbers of Republicans who believed such agreements (like NAFTA and TPP) are good completely flipping with the number who think they're bad.

Trump has also shown an ease at backing away from a number of staunchly Republican cultural and social positions. To use just one example, Trump has said little about same-sex marriage, and shortly after the election, claimed that he considered the matter settled by the Supreme Court. In contrast, the official Republican platform still defines marriage as between one man and one woman, with no sign of that stance changing.

A Republican party that's pro-Russia, anti-free market, and mum on "culture war" issues isn't the party of Reagan, or any other Republican president of the last century.

But as of now, it's the party of Trump.