Reading Perry’s uninspired op-ed, I was reminded of a finding in Pew’s recent political typology report. According to the survey, there was a major difference in priorities between the two conservative groups that Pew identified. The more socially conservative populist group, which Pew dubbed “steadfast conservatives,” was heavily in favor of a less activist foreign policy and wanted the U.S. to “focus more at home.” This contrasted sharply with the preferences of “business conservatives.” Another group, the so-called “young outsiders,” were also found to be a “a right leaning group” with generally more libertarian views, and they were even more likely than either conservative group to say that the U.S. should “focus more at home”:
The two groups on the right that heavily favor less activism abroad account for 30% of all registered voters, while “business conservatives” make up just 12%. Based on Perry’s latest arguments, and his past record as governor and as a presidential candidate, it’s fair to say that he very much identifies with “business conservatives” in terms of policies and priorities, which puts him squarely in the same tradition as the last two losing Republican nominees. Positioning himself as an advocate for foreign policy activism also puts Perry on the wrong side of a very large number of people that normally vote Republican. Perry may be betting that this is the right way to curry favor with party elites, but it is very likely to backfire with Republican voters if he makes the mistake of running again.