August 12, 1996 in Nation/World

Gop Delegates: White, Male, Wealthy

New York Times

The Republican Party is taking great pains to present an image of diversity at its national convention, of “real people living real lives in the real world,” in the words of Haley Barbour, party chairman.

But away from the stage and the video screens, the nearly 2,000 delegates are overwhelmingly white, mostly male and middle-aged and impressively wealthy. Almost one in five is a millionaire, according to a New York Times/CBS News Poll of the delegates.

The delegates also are more likely to call themselves “very conservative” than were delegates to the Republican convention eight years ago. They are more conservative than Republicans generally - indeed, more conservative, their responses indicate, than their own presidential candidate, Bob Dole.

The survey’s profile of the delegates points up the problem Dole has wrestled with all summer: how to sustain the enthusiasm of the party’s core conservative activists, who are needed to staff phone banks and deliver leaflets, while still appealing to moderate Republicans, Democrats and independents to get enough votes to win in November.

According to the poll, majorities of the delegates oppose affirmative action, the legislative ban on assault weapons and public education for the children of illegal immigrants. Most delegates say the federal government “is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals.”

But 56 percent favor a more active federal role in one area, saying the government “should do more to promote traditional values.”

At a time when the Republican Party is trying to overcome a gender gap, only 36 percent of the delegates are women - down from 43 percent in 1992. Ninety-one percent of the delegates are white.

Eighty-two percent of the delegates are married compared with 59 percent of the general public.

And 53 percent are 45 to 64 years old, about twice the proportion in the general public and the party as whole.

At a convention where one prominent Republican demonstration is a parade of yachts to support abortion rights, the delegates also are far wealthier than most Americans.

Eighteen percent have net worths of more than $1 million, while another 18 percent are worth $500,000 to $1 million.

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