THE GRAND OLD, OLD PARTY: The Future of the Republican Party

Wednesday, July 18, 2001

The presidential election of 2000 highlighted the significant demographic divisions between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. The strength of the Republicans lies in the South and in the middle of the country. But the voters that carried those regions for George W. Bush, mostly white and Protestant, are shrinking as a proportion of the overall United States population. Are these demographic changes a serious problem for the Republicans? If so, what can they do to bring groups that have traditionally been Democratic—Hispanics, blacks, and Catholics, for example—into the Republican Party?

Recorded on Wednesday, July 18, 2001

Peter Robinson: Today on Uncommon Knowledge, a tale of two colors, blue and red.

Announcer: Funding for this program is provided by The John M. Olin Foundation and the Starr Foundation.

[Music]

Peter Robinson: Welcome to Uncommon Knowledge, I'm Peter Robinson. On our show today, The Future of the Grand Old Party?

Here we have a map showing the results of the 2000 presidential election. The republican candidate, George W. Bush carried the counties shown in red which looks pretty good. There are, after all, far more red counties than blue counties. However, as you'll recall, the electoral vote between the republican candidate, Bush, and the democratic candidate, Gore, was nearly equal and Gore actually won a majority in the popular vote. What that means is that although there are fewer blue counties, they contain more people. Moreover, George W. Bush's base of support was largely white and protestant. Those are two categories that are shrinking as a proportion of the overall population, suggesting coming trouble for the GOP.

So what is the future of the Republican Party? And, in particular, can the GOP ever hope to appeal to traditionally democratic constituencies such as African Americans, Hispanics, or Catholics?

Joining us today, two guests. Nelson Polsby is a Professor of Political Science at the University of California at Berkeley. And Newt Gingrich, a business consultant is former Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Title: The Grand Old, Old Party

Peter Robinson: Last election, the Republican Party achieves almost exact parity at the national level with the Democratic Party. Half the seats in the Senate, sliver thin majority in the House, a President in the White House who loses the popular vote although he wins in the electoral college. Is there any realistic prospect that within the next few elections, the GOP can break out of parity and achieve dominance? Newt?

Newt Gingrich: As good a prospect as there is for the democrats.

Peter Robinson: Nelson?

Nelson Polsby: Yeah, that's probably right. That's probably right.

Peter Robinson: Okay. Political consultant, John Morgan is fond of saying that the difference between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party is largely the difference between Plymouth Rock and Ellis Island. The problem? Plymouth Rock Americans are shrinking as a proportion of the population. George Bush, in the last campaign, made a concerted effort to reach out to three groups of non-Plymouth Rock Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, Catholics. Let's take them one at a time. African Americans. Bob Dole wins twelve percent in 1996. George W. Bush campaigns again making a concerted effort to appeal to African Americans and wins eight percent of the vote. Newt, how come?

Newt Gingrich: Well I don't--I don't think republicans are going to break through with African Americans until they realize it is a three hundred and sixty-five day a year project that you have to be in the community. You have to dispute people like Julian Bond when they say you're a racist. You have to have the nerve to be on Black radio to ble on Black television, uh, and to be communicating in a direct way. I mean, today the message most Africans Americans get, unrelentingly, uh, from the NAACP, from Jesse Jackson, uh, from--from a whole range of people is that you have a, uh, frightening, racist, dangerous Republican Party that is eager to eliminate your right to vote, return you to slavery. I mean, Al Gore goes to a church just before the election and says that Bush is going to appoint people who think that Blacks are 3/5 of a person. That's--that's his interpretation of--of, uh, a constitutional judge. And I think the Republican Party doesn't have a clue today how desperately it is important to be contesting that kind of language and contesting that kind of imagery on an every day basis, all year around, if you're ever going to be--have any chance of breaking through.

Peter Robinson: Nelson, I mentioned that George W. Bush got four percent less of the African American vote than Bo--did Bob Dole. Uh…

Nelson Polsby: Well he got…

Peter Robinson: It's about thirty percent less, excuse me.

Nelson Polsby: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: Go--four points fewer.

Nelson Polsby: That's right.

Peter Robinson: Four points fewer. But he also got nine points fewer than Ronald Reagan in 1984 and six points fewer than Barry Goldwater in 1964. Why did George W. Bush drop--what--what--what--what's going on?

Nelson Polsby: I--I…

Peter Robinson: Increased hostility? Why?

Nelson Polsby: I can't explain that. Um, I think by the way, um, carving up the electorate in this fashion isn't the--isn't the republican strategy. That is, the way republicans win presidential elections is by doing slightly better than usual with the big middle.

Peter Robinson: The big middle. How do you…

Nelson Polsby: The big…

[Talking at same time]

Peter Robinson: Please define…

Nelson Polsby: No--no--in other words, by dividing up, um, the--the electorate into these--into these--into the mosaic, um, you're positing that both major parties are constructed the same way but they're not. The democrats are the mosaic. The republicans are the party of the big middle. And their proper strategy in my opinion, if they want to win presidential elections, is to do slightly better than usual. That's all it takes, with the--the middle class, uh, middling, uh--uh, income, uh, middle educated, middle everything.

Newt Gingrich: Let--let me build on that for…

Nelson Polsby: Sure.

Newt Gingrich: …one second cause Nelson's right. There's a new book out by Michael Barone called, The New Americans

Nelson Polsby: Right.

Newt Gingrich: …which is a fabulous book about how America assimilates. And basically compares Irish in the nineteenth century with African Americans today. Uh, Italians in the nineteenth century with Hispanics today and, uh--uh, Jews in the nineteenth century with Asians today. I mean, re--it makes a lot of sense of it. Back to Ellis Island for a second. The truth is republicans do very well now with the Irish.

Peter Robinson: Right.

Newt Gingrich: Re--republicans are beginning to do very well with the Italians. They're beginning to break through with Po--Polish Americans. That's really the Ellis Island crew except for Jews, where for a variety of reasons, largely ideological, uh, the republicans have been closed out. The Jewish American vote is the second most democratic vote after the African American vote. But I--I'm inclined to agree largely with Nelson with one caveat. I--I think that a re--a Republican Party, a Bush Administration, if they do okay with the economy, if they can communicate personal social security savings accounts to the young in a way that the young decide it is a substantial advantage, uh, so that you--you have a breakthrough across all young people, not just targeting ethnicity. And then second, I do think the one place they have to fu--the republicans have to focus very dramatically is among Hispanic Americans.

Peter Robinson: Okay.

Newt Gingrich: If republicans can carry Hispanic Americans and keep their normal base, they are the majority party of the next generation.

Peter Robinson: Okay, we're now…

Peter Robinson: So do the republicans need to make a special effort to reach out to minority voters, specifically African and Hispanic Americans or not?

Title: Minority Report

Peter Robinson: The Republican Party, like all organizations has limited resources. And to devote resources to one endeavor is to take them away from other endeavors. So you would agree then that the Republican Party should just give up on African Americans?

Nelson Polsby: Look…

Peter Robinson: I'm overstating the case to be provocative but…

Nelson Polsby: Yeah. Look, um, I--I wanted to complete one sentence that you began.

Peter Robinson: Go right ahead.

Nelson Polsby: You said, uh, Plymouth Rock is shrinking. Uh…

Peter Robinson: As a proportion of the population.

Nelson Polsby: Yes, well th--th--the other half of it is Ellis Island is closed. Uh…

Peter Robinson: Well…

Nelson Polsby: And that's--the--the--that is, of course, uh, Newt made the point that--that if you start poking around in these Ellis Island populations, you discover there's a fair number of republicans in them. It seems to me the republican way of thinking about this ought to be, how do we, uh, capitalize on the fact that more and more Americans are in the big middle.

Peter Robinson: Listen to this…

Nelson Polsby: That--that's the problem now. As to Hispanics, very difficult problem. Here's why. Hispanics actually in the United States come in a number of different flavors. Um, and, for example, the--you can see figures which show you that--that well-to-do Hispanics, uh, in fact, tend to be republican. Uh, they're Cubans.

Peter Robinson: That's right.

Nelson Polsby: They're…

Peter Robinson: Every…

Nelson Polsby: They're Cubans…

Peter Robinson: Every--they come in a lot of flavors but there's only one that votes republican.

Nelson Polsby: That's right.

Peter Robinson: The Cubans vote republican.

Nelson Polsby: And not all Cubans. It's the Miami Cubans. The Tampa Cubans are democrats. So it's time to stop talking about Hispanics and start talking about Puerto Ricans, Chicanos, Texas--Texas version different from California version.

Peter Robinson: Why is the Texas--look, I'm willing to say, of course, there are lots of different flavors as you put it, but a lot of them come from Mexico. You have a…

Nelson Polsby: That's right.

Peter Robinson: …a band all from Southern Texas to Southern Arizona and throughout California up into the Central…

Newt Gingrich: Different parts--different parts of Mexico.

[Talking at same time]

Nelson Polsby: Well yes. I mean, one of the things that happens to be true of that population which, by the way, Mike Barone got right, um…

Peter Robinson: He compares Hispanics to…

Nelson Polsby: Italians.

Peter Robinson: Italians. Meaning strong emphasis on family.

Nelson Polsby: Well that's…

Peter Robinson: Manual labor…

Nelson Polsby: That's--no, well here's--here's the real thing. A fair number of them came over with the intention of going back.

Peter Robinson: I see.

Nelson Polsby: They were here for economic reasons. Now, okay. So Hispanic population, lots of different flavors. Re--requires lots of different strategies. The great master republican strategy, in my opinion, ought to be judging just simply on the way they've won in the past is--is scoop them up when they get into the middle class. That's the way you do it. You're going to get…

Peter Robinson: Throughout the 1980's and the 1990's…

Nelson Polsby: All right.

Peter Robinson: Hispanics in California cast between thirty and forty percent of their votes for republicans in statewide races. 1994, Proposition 187 is on the ballot in California. It's passed. It's never actually put into effect. It's tied up in court. But the proposition would have denied state services to illegal immigrants including schooling. In that year, the Hispanic vote for republicans, the republican at the head of the ticket was Pete Wilson who supported Prop 187, collapses, falls to a little below twenty percent and it hasn't recovered yet. Di--has--did the GOP by supporting 187, position itself as the anti-immigrant party? And is it going to be stuck with a stigma or is that--are there special circumstances that explain that?

Nelson Polsby: Cannot--cannot predict the future but--but…

Peter Robinson: Nelson…

Nelson Polsby: …but if you--but if you had asked me, was that a smart thing to do? I would have said no, it wasn't a smart thing.

Peter Robinson: Newt?

Newt Gingrich: Well I--I think clearly, uh, in California for the short run, uh, it hurt republicans with Hispanics. On the other hand, Bush got about half the Hispanic vote in Texas running for reelection. Uh…

Peter Robinson: For reelection as governor?

Newt Gingrich: As governor. Uh, he got a very significant percentage though across everywhere in--talking about Mexican Americans now.

Peter Robinson: Right.

Newt Gingrich: He did very well with Mexican Americans everywhere but California. California draws him down to about thirty-five percent of the vote nationally. Uh, and I would just suggest that Bush both by--by his own ability to speak Spanish, by his natural inclination, by his friendship with Vicente Fox, uh, Bush, in fact, represents a much more inclusive republican attitude. He also presents a more inclusive republican attitude towards African Americans. The difference is you've had twenty years of, uh, democratic politicians and left wing activists in the Black community creating a monolithic sense of--by--of a siege mentality that if we don't all stick together, crosses will be burned, churches will be bombed, people will be in trouble. I think the Republican Party has a moral obligation to take that on, not as a question of resources but as a question of simply saying, you can't have a healthy country in which sixteen-year-old Blacks grow up learning only vicious, negative dishonest things and believing them to be true because they never hear an alternative message. They never hear a conflicting message. So for--from that standpoint, I think Bush has to go for the strategy to get twenty percent of the African American vote rather than eight percent but a strategy only to get fifty to sixty percent of the Hispanic vote. And I think that Bush has a real opportunity to--to be identified in a way that transcends economics. I--I agree with Nelson. It's easier for us to get middle class votes but you also see patterns where because of--of social bonding, people will vote out of their class. In the south, the great swing to the Republican Party after 1964 had fully as many poor whites as we--as wealthy whites making the swing because, in fact, their hostility to the federal government and their opposition to forced integration moved many poor whites--middle class and upper middle class whites in the south have been moving for a generation to the Republican Party but the real breakthrough comes when the--when as a cultural phenomenon, the white south just moves to the Republican Party from 1964 to 1980.

Peter Robinson: All in mass.

Nelson Polsby: Okay, now look. The--the idea that these things turn on occasional breakthroughs, uh, seems to me right. And that, of course, tells you something about the power of that California proposition to shape attitudes for a long time.

Peter Robinson: Let's take a closer look at the relationship between Hispanics and the Republican Party in the nation's most populous state, California.

Title: El Estado del Oro

Peter Robinson: Let's talk about California then. We have the largest state in the union by a considerable margin. A little over a tenth of the population lives here. The Republican Party right up through the governorship of Pete Wilson is in recent decades, never able to dominate Sacramento but it is able to get enough people in the Senate and enough people in the assembly and it's able to get governors and it does so largely by--you've got--Los Angeles tends to be democratic. It has for some decades now. But from Orange County south is republican. The central valley was republican. But now something has happened. The central valley is now almost as Hispanic as white. Fresno County is about even. So the huge influx, the central valley which used to be reliably republican is now on a knife-edge. The point I'm trying to get at is this, if the Republican Party can appeal to Hispanics in this state, does it put the state back into play?

Newt Gingrich: Overnight.

Peter Robinson: Overnight.

Nelson Polsby: Math--mathematically…

[Talking at same time]

Peter Robinson: That is to say, is that one element…

Newt Gingrich: Hold on. Mayor Riordan, uh, I think is the most likely republican to win statewide simply from the fact that he is a republican who will get the largest percentage of the Hispanic community. He's been the most effective in Los Angeles getting Hispanic votes. He has a si--he's simpatico. He has a sense of--of common ground, uh, and I think that that--that changes the equation almost overnight. It's still a democratic leaning state but a--but a republican who can effectively appeal to the Hispanic community, Abel Maldonado who's a--a young assemblyman on the coast, who is first generation, his parents came from Mexico. He--he is a republican assemblyman who's right on the environment for the coast, who's right on business and fiscal policies, who could campaign in the Hispanic community.

Peter Robinson: Okay.

Newt Gingrich: He's the kind of guy who represents the future of the Republican Party.

Peter Robinson: But now--now we've got a case in which we say look, California is crucial to put the state back into play. You appeal to one group, Hispanics and you've done it. But Nelson was just saying, wait a minute, this is the wrong way to go about it. Republicans should not be trying to play the politics of group identity. So the question is, how do you adopt Nelson's rule in which you enunciate the broad principles of the Republican Party and hope that people in the middle…

Newt Gingrich: I didn't. I--I don't agree with Nelson's rule.

Peter Robinson: Oh well then tell us where Nelson's wrong.

Nelson Polsby: That's--that's not what the rule was.

Peter Robinson: Oh Nelson, you--you don't mind my being a little provocative. Go ahead. Restate it.

Nelson Polsby: That's--okay. All right. The rule is simply this, republicans tend to win the presidency when they do better with the big middle. Uh, every political party has to also concern itself with the mosaic but that's not the republicans' strength. The point is, the way democrats win is by putting together this mosaic of predominantly underdog or formerly underdog groups.

Peter Robinson: They stitch together…

Nelson Polsby: That's…

Peter Robinson: …coalitions. We appeal to the middle?

Nelson Polsby: That's right. That's the way--and the two political parties are in fact, differently constituted. That is, they're different animals.

Peter Robinson: This is an asymmetry. It's not yen and yang. They're not mirror images of each other at all.

[Talking at same time]

Newt Gingrich: That's exactly right.

[Talking at same time]

Nelson Polsby: That's the point I'm trying to make.

Peter Robinson: Okay.

Nelson Polsby: Ah--it's--I'm not trying to make the point that republicans shouldn't try to cut into the groups that are extremely loyal to the democrats…

Peter Robinson: Go ahead.

Nelson Polsby: Of course. They have to.

Newt Gingrich: But--but I think what's fascinating with the republican predicament is that the Republican Party of the 1940's and '50's had to absorb a group of people that made it very uncomfortable, uh, white southern Protestants who were much more fundamentalists, much (?) less mainstream. And there was a long period of tension as the party ab--absorbed that. I would argue…

Peter Robinson: And they would stand out as somebody who--republican from Alabama would stand out at lunchtime at the round…

[Talking at same time]

Newt Gingrich: There was real--I mean, there was real tension…

Peter Robinson: Right.

Newt Gingrich: …between what you--you were describing earlier as the sort of New England tradition.

Peter Robinson: Right.

Newt Gingrich: And--and this really Scots Highlands, uh, Scots Irish tradition. Uh, I think the party is faced now with the same challenge again. That is, the new emerging comfortable republican national party and I agree with Nelson, we are not the manager of coalitions. The democrats are. The--the democrats get people who are very uncomfortable with each other into a room for the purpose of acquiring power, divide up the power and get back out of the room before they have to get to know each other very well. Republicans really do grow by aggregating. We are now going to have to aggregate Hispanics who will make many traditional republicans uncomfortable and traditional republicans will make Hispanics uncomfortable. But it is inevitable mathematically if the Republican Party is going to be a…

Peter Robinson: Right.

Newt Gingrich: …success, that it find a way to…

Peter Robinson: We've talked about African Americans and Hispanics. Let's turn to the third minority to whom the republicans have tried to reach out, Catholics.

Title: True Believers

Peter Robinson: Bush in the last election, loses, not badly but he loses the overall Catholic vote. But among Catholics who attend church every week, religiously active Catholics, he gets about, uh, fifty-seven percent of the vote, the same amount that Ronald Reagan got. Now, eighty-four percent of white Evangelicals, Protestants, religiously active Protestants vote for Bush but only fifty-seven percent of religiously active Catholics vote for Bush. And according to certain GOP strategists, the remaining forty-three percent of religiously active Catholics is about four million voters, conveniently located in several swing states that Bush lost narrowly, represent a very large pool of available voters…

Nelson Polsby: Up for grabs.

Peter Robinson: …who were up for grabs. And so what the GOP should try to do is activate and bring into the party religiously active Catholics at the same levels that it already has white Protestants.

Nelson Polsby: Sure.

Peter Robinson: So it becomes the party of believers.

Nelson Polsby: Very, very, very sound analysis. I've--I've read it--read it myself. Now the question is, there--couple of questions. First, is it not the case that, uh, religiously observant Catholics are shrinking just the way the Plymouth Rock bunch are? Maybe. Even so…

Peter Robinson: Okay.

Nelson Polsby: …this bunch is up for grabs. All right. Second, Newt has just actually laid out the problem that will create some wedge issues. The moral equivalent, if you like, of gays in the military for Clinton, for Bush is stem cell research. Broker that one among this bunch…

[Talking at same time]

Nelson Polsby: Not so--not so easy.

Peter Robinson: No.

Newt Gingrich: Let me start by pointing out that probably two million of those four million observant Catholics who didn't vote for Bush…

Peter Robinson: Right.

Newt Gingrich: …are Hispanic. And you're talking about the same people…

[Talking at same time]

Newt Gingrich: So the truth is, if he expands his reach in the Hispanic community…

Peter Robinson: He's getting half of the weight over the Catholics.

Newt Gingrich: …he probably picks up--he probably picks up…

[Talking at same time]

Nelson Polsby: He gets eighty percent of the Mormons too but he's already won Idaho and Utah.

Peter Robinson: Right, exactly.

[Talking at same time]

Peter Robinson: He gets them without trying to.

Nelson Polsby: Well but all right but it's true of--religiously observant people are…

Peter Robinson: Does that concern you by the way? Gore--about forty percent of the electorate doesn't go to church or synagogue. Gore wins a majority of those. Forty percent consider themselves religiously active and Bush wins the majority of those. Does it concern you that the Democratic and Republican Parties are…

Nelson Polsby: Are different? No.

Peter Robinson: …are--are dividing along the lines of the party of unbelievers and the party of believers?

Nelson Polsby: No. No. It seems to me perfectly sensible that there should be differences among--with--with all…

Peter Robinson: Doesn't bother you?

Nelson Polsby: And it's a genuine differe--I--I see legitimacy in there being two strong parties in a two-party system.

Newt Gingrich: And it's actually a little bit of the European model. I mean, if you--if you think of the Democratic Party as being parallel to, uh, the--the left wing parties in Europe, the European tradition for a hundred years has been to have a vaguely religiously oriented conservative party, uh, the Christian Democratic Union, Christian Socialists in Germany, for example, and to have a--a relatively unbelieving secularizing party on the left. And, in that sense, our politics are now fairly close to the European tradition.

Nelson Polsby: And the only…

[Talking at same time]

Nelson Polsby: The only--the only question one must pose to Newt is whether you really think Bush is the equivalent of Adeneur?

Newt Gingrich: Well one can always hope.

Peter Robinson: The religiously observant Catholics, whether Hispanic or not tend to be pro-life.

Newt Gingrich: Right.

Peter Robinson: They tend to oppose the death penalty whereas the Evangelicals down in the south tend to favor the death penalty. You've got a fisher that would run through…

[Talking at same time]

Nelson Polsby: Educated--educated republican women.

Peter Robinson: Seventy percent in Cal--in California of republican women are pro-choice. How do you--how do you attempt to put together a party with that--with that deep a fisher running through it?

[Talking at same time]

Newt Gingrich: I mean, first of all…

Nelson Polsby: …raise the issue. I mean, it's not a…

Peter Robinson: No, I know. I was trying to--I'm trying to square it up.

[Talking at same time]

Nelson Polsby: It's not as though we're putting it under the rug. That's the problem play.

Newt Gingrich: Look, managing a majority in a country this size is always a function to finding the things that bring your side together and split up the other side. And it's always, I mean, go back and study the--the best person at doing this in American history, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I mean, you always try to figure out how, you know, how do you have Mississippi segregationists and Black congressman from Chicago in the same party, at the same time, while you're negotiating an anti-lynching law at the federal level, uh, which was abhorrent (important?) to Mississippians who--who rejected the idea that the federal government should stop them from lynching people. It was really important to--actually more important to white liberals, uh, and then to the Black community. So start with that notion, you're always managing a coalition.

Peter Robinson: Right.

Newt Gingrich: You're always trying to find a way, uh…

Peter Robinson: Nothing new here.

Newt Gingrich: …to--to put things together.

[Talking at same time]

Peter Robinson: Well how do you do it?

Nelson Polsby: Not--not quite. It is somewhat new for republicans. That is to say, doi--doing that trick is what democrats have been accustomed to doing.

Peter Robinson: Precisely because the Republican Party was so overwhelmingly white and Protestant…

[Talking at same time]

Newt Gingrich: …was a minority.

Nelson Polsby: The republicans did it b--yes, did it--did it differently and when they won, they won with national heroes, um--uh, they were not into distributive politics so much as in principled politics.

Newt Gingrich: But there's--there's a deep reason since I--since I lived in that party. It was a minority party. Minority parties don't have to manage majorities by definition. The second you become a majority, you have a larger group of people in the room. You have greater differences in the room and, by the way, they all want something because they now think you're the majority. When you're the minority, they mostly want you to stop the majority. And that makes them fairly happy. So you can be a pretty negative party. But as a potential--and I think both parties right now are--are nascent majorities, neither party has a stable path to a majority yet. So the republicans…

Peter Robinson: Last topic. A final look at the structural differences between the Republican and Democratic Parties.

Title: "Special" Interest Rates

Peter Robinson: Comment by George Gilder, demo--quote, "Democrats essentially buy their way into office by putting together coalit--coalitions of fiercely engaged interest groups who could not survive without government subsidies. Republicans who try to beat the democrats on their own turf of interest group politics are doomed. Republicans have to win by being leaders." That's very much what we were saying. Okay here's--here was Ronald Reagan's message…

Nelson Polsby: Oh, to completely--completely pejorative. Who's buying what? Tell me about the tax cuts.

Peter Robinson: All right.

Nelson Polsby: Yo--you know…

[Talking at same time]

Peter Robinson: You're--you're allowed--you're allowed to winge and whine about this…

[Talking at same time]

Nelson Polsby: Well yeah, I think--I think I will winge and whine about that one because it's--because it's--it's--it's--it's…

Peter Robinson: I thought I could get that past you.

Nelson Polsby: …it's silly.

Newt Gingrich: Yeah, I'm--I'm with him. I think--I think it is a total misrepresentation of American politics.

Peter Robinson: You do?

Newt Gingrich: Absolutely.

Peter Robinson: Okay.

Newt Gingrich: I mean, both parties have to manage interests. I mean, it's defined--it's defined in the federalist papers.

Nelson Polsby: That's what you're supposed to do.

Newt Gingrich: It's at the core of the system. It's how Jefferson and Hamilton got together on the national debt and the national capital. The fact is, republicans min--the minute we became a majority, we had interests who represented sugar. We had interests who represented peanuts. Now these are things where, by any general, uh, economic theory…

Peter Robinson: That is interest group politics…

Newt Gingrich: That's interest group politics.

Nelson Polsby: How about oil?

Peter Robinson: It's television so we have to wrap it up.

Nelson Polsby: Which is, by the way, not an exclusive republican franchise.

Peter Robinson: Democrats in Louisiana are…

[Talking at same time]

Nelson Polsby: Oil, democrats, same…

[Talking at same time]

Peter Robinson: Hold on. Okay look. Di--it's television, I have to kind of wrap this up.

Nelson Polsby: Yeah.

Peter Robinson: Pre--I'm going to ask you both for a prediction and you remember you're a political scientist and science isn't science unless it has some predictive value. Nelson doesn't like predictions.

Nelson Polsby: Oh, that's nonsense.

Peter Robinson: Ah well listen. For four months, from January until Jefford switched parties and gave the senate back to the democrats, for four months the Republican Party held the house and the senate and the White House for the first time since the 1950's. How long will it be before that happens again? Nelson?

Nelson Polsby: Have no idea. They managed it unwisely, by the way, while they had it.

Peter Robinson: Newt?

Newt Gingrich: Uh, I think it--I think it'll probably take them four to six years to get the senate back but I think they'll keep the house.

Peter Robinson: But it'll hap--they'll keep that house?

Newt Gingrich: Yes.

Peter Robinson: Newt Gingrich, Nelson Polsby, thank you very much.

Peter Robinson: Newt Gingrich and Nelson Polsby agreed, the GOP faces a difficult challenge in attempting to attract minority voters. But neither one was willing to make a prediction that the GOP would succeed or fail. There is, after all, no map to the future. I'm Peter Robinson, thanks joining us.