The Republican Party has for decades pitched itself as the party of the free market. Since the New Deal era tied Democrats — once the party of decentralized power — to interventionist economics orchestrated by a dominant federal government, the GOP has cast itself as the political representative of economic liberty.
Consider, for example, this polemic against crony capitalism from the 2016 Republican platform:
Cronyism is inherent in the progressive vision of the administrative state. When government uses taxpayer funding and resources to give special advantages to private companies, it distorts the free market and erodes public trust in our political system. By enlarging the scope of government and placing enormous power in the hands of bureaucrats, it multiplies opportunities for corruption and favoritism. It is the enemy of reform in education, the workplace, and healthcare. It gives us financial regulation that protects the large at the cost of the small. It is inherent in every part of the current healthcare law, which is packed with corporate welfare. Crony capitalism gives us special interest tax breaks, custom-designed regulations, and special exemptions for favored parties.
The word “market” appears in the platform nearly 50 times, almost every time expressing support for economic freedom and decrying “overregulation and undue [government] interference in the marketplace.”
It’s that context which makes these new poll results from YouGov so interesting: When asked whether they agree with Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s recent remark that “the free market has been sorting it out and America’s been losing,” self-identified Republicans and conservatives were significantly more likely than Democrats and independents, liberals and moderates to answer in the affirmative.