GOP's embrace of extremist Trump supporters is driving mainstream Republicans to become Democrats: pollster
In Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump told supporters he would bring back jobs to the depressed steel town (AFP)

According to the pollster who coined the 'Reagan Democrat" label applied to longtime Democrats who switched parties due to the appeal of former President Ronald Reagan, the current Republican Party is facing a similar exodus of voters who have been turned off by Donald Trump and the crowd he brought into the GOP.

In an interview in Politico with legendary pollster Stanley Greenberg, he revealed the subtle racism that led to Democrats joining the GOP in 1984 no longer appeals to the upper-middle class suburbanites who have been turned off by a party now steeped in what was described as "white grievance."

Describing "Reagan Democrats," Greenberg wrote, "the leaders who were supposed to fight for them seemed to care more about the blacks in Detroit and the protesters on campus; they seemed to care more about equal rights and abortion than about mortgage payments and crime. The old politics has failed them. What they really want is a new political contract — and the freedom to dream the American dream again."

That was then and this is now, he said, explaining: "In leaning too hard into white identity politics — and perhaps being too focused on what he thought Reagan Democrats wanted — Trump accelerated the rise of a new voting bloc that is, in many ways, the mirror image of the Reagan Democrats. Call them the Biden Republicans."

"Historically, they identified with the Republican Party as their political home," the Politico report from Zack Stanton elaborates. "But the leaders who were supposed to fight for them seem to care more about white grievance and keeping out immigrants; seem to care more about social issues and 'owning the libs' than about childcare payments and college tuition. They don't consider themselves Democrats — at least not yet — but they are voting for them, delivering them majorities in the House and Senate, and making Joe Biden just the fourth candidate in the last century to defeat an incumbent president."

According to the pollster, the loss of these voters could have a drastic impact on the future of the Republican Party.

"If you look at the trends in this election, [Trump's campaign] was able to, like, wage a race war with a massive increase in turnout in the rural areas and among white working-class voters. But the percentage of eligible voters who are older than Millennials dropped by 8 points. So for Republicans to be successful with this strategy while going against that demographic trend, you need a continually animating and increasingly intense and effective effort to turn out the vote," Greenberg explained. "They are going to have to lose a few elections before there can be a new dynamic within the Republican Party — just as the Democrats lost a lot of national elections before Bill Clinton was able to change the party."

"I think there's two kinds of Biden Republicans — two trends. One of them is you saw quite affluent, very Republican towns [in suburban counties], and Biden got a very large percentage of votes from those counties. They are more affluent college graduates voting for Biden. Will they stick? They may, given how Trump is defining the Republican Party," he added.

You can read the whole interview here.