© 2016

The Four Faces of the Republican Party

The Fight for the 2016 Presidential Nomination

  • Authors

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Henry Olsen, Dante J. Scala
    Pages 1-32
  3. Henry Olsen, Dante J. Scala
    Pages 33-59
  4. Henry Olsen, Dante J. Scala
    Pages 60-79
  5. Henry Olsen, Dante J. Scala
    Pages 80-103
  6. Henry Olsen, Dante J. Scala
    Pages 104-121
  7. Henry Olsen, Dante J. Scala
    Pages 122-147
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 148-163

About this book


The Four Faces of the Republican Party clearly describes how Republican Presidential nominating contests unfold. Its focus on party factions allows readers to understand the process and to predict who the eventual nominee will be. In particular, the authors explore why a conservative party always nominates candidates favored by the party's establishment and why evangelical conservatives always emerge as one of the two final contenders for the nomination. This book is essential reading for anyone – professor, student, journalist, consultant, or candidate – who wishes to understand, report on, or influence a Republican Presidential nomination contest.


2016 GOP2016 Republican Presidential nomination conservative Romney McCain Bush Trump Rubio Walker Carson Huckabee Kasich Cruz Paul libertarian evangelical Iowa campaign voter

About the authors

Henry Olsen is a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. A recognized expert on American politics, elections, and political demographics, his work has appeared in the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and a host of other magazines and journals.

Dante Scala is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of New Hampshire and a fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy. His scholarly work on campaigns and elections appears in numerous journals and books. National and international media regularly seek out his commentary on presidential nomination contests.

Bibliographic information


“This book should be of interest to ecotourism operators, government policy-makers, and students from a wide range of disciplines who conduct research in nature-based tourism settings. I would also recommend it to travelers intending to visit such destinations. Although the book’s contents may appear highly specialized, complex topics are explained in an accessible manner. … this book is an excellent guide to minimizing ecotourism’s potential negative effects on animals.” (Rie Usui, Tourism Geographies, Vol. 20 (5), 2018)

"The race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination promises to be the wildest and most unpredictable ever. To make sense of the different brands of Republican voters, there is no better guide than Olsen and Scala's The Four Faces of the Republican Party. A must-read for political junkies in this turbulent election cycle." - Michael Barone, senior Political Analyst, Washington Examiner; Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute; and the co-author of The Almanac of American Politics (1972)

"In this incisive and deeply researched analysis, Olsen and Scala persuasively argue that the key to winning the Republican presidential nomination in the modern primary era is not so much money, or momentum, or even the tap on the shoulder from party leaders, but the ability to consolidate support from across the party's four distinct factions of voters through victories in the first contests on the calendar. In a campaign defined by constant polling, breathless media coverage, and rapid shifts in conventional wisdom, Olsen and Scala's careful focus on the distinct patterns that have shaped every recent GOP nominating contest offers a better guide to how this tumultuous race may actually unfold than almost all of the punditry flying across the airwaves and the internet. From voters to political pros to journalists, anyone with an interest in the outcome of the GOP contest will benefit from their sharp examination of the key fault lines in the Republican electorate-and their surprising assessment of which faction is most likely to decide the winner in this boisterous contest." - Ronald Brownstein, Atlantic Media

"The early primary season is always an unpredictable and fluid time. Strong candidates flame out, unknown candidates rise up, and the polls seem to bounce all over the place. This year, however, has felt more unstable than ever. Yet, as scholars Dante Scala and Henry Olsen have outlined in this important book, there is an actual method and predictability in this madness and that the GOP presidential electorate is remarkably stable. Scala and Olsen, through exhaustive research into GOP primary voting behavior over the last three open primaries, find that ideology - more than any other factor - is the biggest driver of the vote. Based on their research, I know that I will be looking most closely at which candidate is winning the 'somewhat conservative' block of voters to help guide my analysis." - Amy Walter, National Editor, The Cook Political Report 
 "Olsen and Scala have an important book that is a must-read for anyone interested in political parties and presidential nominations. This book serves as a major correction to the stereotypes of the Republican Party that are common in the media and in academic characterizations of the party. Olsen and Scala provide a detailed analysis of survey data from 2000 to 2012. They convincingly show that Republican voters in caucuses and primaries are ideological, but not as homogenously so as the conventional wisdom suggests. They identify four ideologically distinct factions in the party that differ in their preferences for candidate characteristics and policy priorities. Notably, the Republican nominee has been the preferred candidate of the less vocal 'somewhat conservatives' rather than the preferred choices of social conservatives and very conservative secular Republicans. The Four Faces of the Republican Party also offers insightful and instructive observations about the regional variations in the strength of the four ideological factions–results that surely will challenge the conventional portrayals found in the media. This is a great read for politically interested citizens, students, and academics alike." Wayne Steger, Professor of Political Science, DePaul University