Party Factions USA

The term "faction" has a negative connotation in the United States. In Federalist No. 10, James Madison famously called for institutions to "break and control the violence of faction," which he defined as "a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community." But factions can also be thought of in more benign terms — as "parties within parties" that imbue America's two-party system with an almost multi-party dimension at the governing level. 

The USA has a dominant two party system-mostly as a result of the  FPTP voting system, winner take all in the  Electoral College, and gerrymandering  in as a consequence, the ideological and coalitional diversity that other systems process through multiple parties has typically been institutionalized in the United States through  factions within the two dominant political parties. Historically, Republicans have been divided between stalwarts and mugwumps, regulars and progressives, Rockefeller Republicans and conservatives. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has endured internal struggles between liberal and segregationist factions as well as New Democrats and progressives. 

The U.S. has four political parties stuffed into a two-party system.  

Factions in the Democrat Party

Factions in the Democrat Party

The main fault-line within the Democratic Party is between a progressive faction, advancing bold but controversial policy proposals such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, and a more centrist party establishment, focused on electability and bi-partisanship. Division within the Democratic party is likely to intensify. Biden has already signaled that he intends to govern by seeking to find common ground with the Republicans willing to work with his administration. This will frustrate progressives 

Conservative  Democrats  Key values: 

Socially conservative, fiscally neo-conservative (concerned about the growth of the state and state deficits), favouring balanced budgets 

• Less supportive of LGBTQ+ rights and gun control. No official stance on social issues. A few of its members have received high ratings from the NRA 

• Keen to reach bipartisan compromises with moderate Republicans 

• Many of its members voted against Obamacare back in 2009

 • Members tend to represent Republican-leaning states or districts often in Midwest or South Key names: Senator Joe Manchin and Congressman Jim Cooper Associated with the Blue Dog Coalition in Congress, which had just 26 members in the 116th Congress (2019–21). The smallest Democrat grouping in Congress 

Conservative Democrats -Blue Dogs

This is probably the smallest faction. Conservative or 'Blue Dog' Democrats are a dying breed. The Democratic Party was once very conservative, with an influential Southern wing dating back to the end of slavery after the Civil War (1861-1865). While this changed, there remains a viable conservative wing of the Democratic Party.

 These Democrats will likely be those pushing for compromise and too avoid the policy stands of the Liberal  Progressives They will argue for pragmatism for example — by being elected, Edwards was able to expand Medicaid to more than 400,000 people in a very red state, a real policy change that Ocasio-Cortez can’t make.

Conservative Democrats are far more likely to find bipartisan support among the Republicans than in the other two wings of their party. In his first year of office, Joe Manchin famously met with all 99 of his Senate colleagues, in an effort to try and get to know them better. Manchin worked with a Republican senator, Pat Toomey, on an unsuccessful bipartisan attempt to require a background check for most gun sales. Alongside other conservative Democrats he voted with the Republicans to ease the Dodd–Frank banking rules in 2018 and he was also the only Democrat to vote for Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation as a Supreme Court justice in 2019. He did, though, join his fellow Democrat senators in voting to impeach Donald Trump in 2020 and in voting against the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. 

Conservative Democrats tend to be more socially conservative. For example, Joe Manchin, a senator from West Virginia, voted against repealing ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ and in 2015 opposed same-sex marriage, although still arguing that no one should be discriminated against for their sexuality. Likewise, Manchin opposed the Dream Act and supported the construction of a wall along the southern border of the USA. 

Moderates/centrists Key values

A ‘public option’ for healthcare, i.e. creation of a government-run health agency to compete with private insurers

 • Minority rights but more cautious about wholesale reform of the police 

• Making college more affordable

 • Tax reforms for the middle classes

 • Measures to reduce climate change 

• Fair and humane immigration reform Key names: Joe Biden, the Clintons and Terri Sewell Associated with the New Democrat Coalition Caucus, which had just over 100 members in the 116th Congress (2019–21). The largest Democrat grouping in Congress. 

Moderate Democrats

Some members of this bloc recently voted for a bill to expand background checks for gun purchases, which was championed by Pelosi, but then also supported a GOP-backed amendment to the measure that would alert ICE when an undocumented immigrant tries to purchase a gun. The moderates supporting that idea infuriated both Pelosi (she argued that Democrats need to work as a team and not join with the GOP) and Ocasio-Cortez 

'All politics is local'

Many of them represent competitive (purple) districts and states. Some Democrats in this bloc may be, in their hearts and minds, just more conservative than other Democrats. But virtually all have a political incentive to play up their differences with Pelosi and particularly Ocasio-Cortez — to tell their constituents essentially, “I’m a Democrat, but not that kind of Democrat.”

This faction was organised around the Democratic Leadership Council, created in 1985 as a reaction to a second defeat in presidential elections to Ronald Reagan. They argued that a more moderate approach was needed to gain electoral success. They became more important in the 19905 as Democrats tried to overcome several presidential election defeats.

While the group dissolved in 2011, Moderates represent the dominant force in the Democratic Party. Many members of Congress hold moderate views, and recent Democrat presidential candidates all reflect the moderate wing. Obama did not fit easily into either wing of the party, but there was a lot of evidence of his moderate approach, such as his willingness to compromise on health care reform and the federal budget.

Despite the apparent demise of conservative Democrats, some progressives view Hillary Clinton as one. The Huffington Post ran an article stating that there was a moderate Republican in the 2016 primaries but she was running in the Democrat party.

Liberals/progressives Key values: 

• Social and racial justice, opposing death penalty and mandatory prison sentences 

• LGBTQ+ rights 

• Free college education for all students 

• Environmental issues (Green New Deal)

 • Medicare for all Key names: Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Associated with the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), which had just under 100 members in the 116th Congress (2019–21). 

Liberal Progressives

liberal on economic and identity/cultural issues, anti-establishment. (Anti-establishment is a very fuzzy term, but in this piece, what I’m referring to is people who see part of their role as not just attacking Republicans, but also highlighting what they see as shortcomings of the Democratic Party itself.)

People in this bloc generally see the Democratic Party as too centrist and too cautious. This bloc is pushing for very liberal policies on economics (for example, its members favor a plan that would put all Americans in a Medicare-style system for health insurance). But unlike the next bloc, they are also pushing for very liberal stands on issues around identity and race (they support abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency).

This group represents the most left wing of the modern Democratic Party on both of the main policy areas occupying U.S. politics. Moreover, its members are aggressively pushing their vision even when other Democrats balk.

Liberals generally supported Obama, while at times feeling frustrated by him. They have been the faction most critical of the Republican Party, and most supportive of social and economic equality.

The more liberal elements of the party pushed Obama to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership and reject certain Republican budget agreements in order to protect welfare expenditure. For example, Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading liberal Democrat, publicly criticised Obama on issues including TPP, which she attacked for strengthening a system rigged to favour corporations over workers. Liberal Democrats have often opposed military intervention and were pleased to have Obama as their president, given his anti-Iraq war views. However, they opposed Obama on a number of defence issues, with 85 House Democrats opposing plans for the United States to arm Syrian rebels.

On social aspects of society this progressive attitude leads to many liberals supporting the abolition of the death penalty and wanting to end mandatory minimum sentences and private prisons. The liberal wing of the party is also the most environmentally friendly of the Democrat factions, with many supporting the closing down of existing nuclear power plants, banning fracking and reducing carbon emissions to tackle climate change. 

● Liberals favour legalising marijuana, gun control, and citizenship for Dreamers (young undocumented immigrants). Liberals also favour reforming campaign finance and limiting the maximum amount that can be raised and spent by candidates. This is because they see the current situation favouring powerful and wealthy interest groups, especially those involved with business and finance, to the detriment of ordinary hardworking Americans. 

● The progressive wing of the party has grown in both numbers and confidence in recent years. With the rise of national figures such as Warren, Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, the liberal wing of the party has seen a dramatic resurgence and is particularly popular with the young metropolitan and urban middle class. There is tension between the liberals and the other wings of the Democratic Party, which is largely due to the fact that all of the presidential candidates in recent years have come from the party’s moderate wing (Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and in 2020 Joe Biden). The rising star of the liberals, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, put it bluntly when discussing the two other wings of the party. In discussing the moderate Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden, she stated, ‘In any other country, Joe Biden and I would not be in the same party, but in America we are.’ 

Elections, particularly primaries, often reveal deep internal factional divisions within both the parties, and the 2020 election was no different. The Democratic coalition typically pits moderate or establishment candidates against progressive activists and candidates, while the Republican Party in 2020 was, at times, polarized not only between moderates and conservatives but between those willing to criticize President Trump and those who would not. 

Factions in the Republican Party -GOP

Since the 1980s, the Republicans have united around the Reagan agenda of limited government (tax cuts, reduced government spending, deregulation) social conservatism and assertive foreign policy, to the extent that liberal Republicans have been banished from the party. This unity is best exhibited in the 'Contract with America' Newt Gingrich 10 bills in 100 days pledge- 1994. This established a manifesto for the Republican right to unit around. While these general areas of agreement gave the Republicans a unified agenda- there are traditional factions.

Social Conservatives:Most prominently represented by former vice president Mike Pence, this group is characterised by its conservative Christian beliefs, seeking to use the Christian faith as a basis for governance. This includes being pro-life, anti-LGBTQ+ and pro-gun rights. The group has had a boost recently with the Dobbs decision in 2022, which reverted the power over abortion to individual states, therefore allowing states to introduce extreme anti-abortion laws. As of April 2023, 13 states had issued complete bans on abortions. These policies are starkly in contrast to those of the moderates, and are causing rifts in the party 

Recent Divisions 

2017 Senate Republicans are divided over Trump's American Health Care Bill. Congressman Tom MacArthur resigned  from the Tuesday group in May 2017 due to disagreement among members over the American Health Care Act of 2017

Members of the Tuesday Group and members of the House Freedom Caucus were unable to agree upon replacement legislation for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which stalled House efforts to repeal and replace the healthcare bill in late March 2017.

The Tea Party-influenced (Freedom Caucus) populist wing of the party is at odds with the business/Wall St establishment over several issues, including immigration reform, Common Core, both of which business favours and Tea Party politicians reject; Tea Party politicians promoted the government shutdown in 2013 and 2018 which business was opposed to

When seeking the nomination as Republican presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich, supported Common Core and but New Jersey Gov. Chris Christi opposed it.

Tea Party-backed candidates, backed by groups such as the Club for Growth, have challenged incumbent ‘RINO’s (Republican in name only)seen to be insufficiently conservative and too much part of the Washington establishment, defeating e.g. Sen Richard Lugar in Indiana in 2012 and House majority leader Eric Cantor in Virginia in 2014. They also forced John Boehner out of his position as Speaker.

In both parties, there is a radical wing ready to pour scorn on a more centrist one for opposite but ultimately symmetrical reasons: making too many concessions to the other side. 

The Impact of Trump

Since 2016, the dominant faction of the GOP has been populist and nationalist, yet the traditional divisions still exist between the "liberal-conservative" faction  and its  classical-liberal principles of free trade, pluralism, and constitutionalism  and well as the neo- cons with pro military assertive foreign policy.

 Trumpists and Trump Loyalists

Trump Loyalists

Not the same as Trumpists but, have been intimated or following the wave of popular support Trump has behind him.

. They do agree with some aspects of Trumpism — in particular, Trump tends to use more inflammatory rhetoric on immigration issues, but his policy stances aren’t all that far from GOP orthodoxy. They usually avoid criticizing Trump in public. And if they do, that criticism is usually expressed in very polite terms — and often not followed up by much action.

Trump critics often cast this group as “enabling” Trump or even handing full control of the GOP over to him. McConnell never pushed for a vote on a measure that would have made it harder for Trump to fire the special counsel and this week blocked a provision pushed by Democrats that would require Attorney General William Barr to publicly release Mueller’s full report.

The political scientist Matt Glassman has described, the relationship between these Republicans and Trump is best understood not as Trump forcing ideas down this bloc’s throats. Instead, Glassman argues that McConnell and other congressional Republicans are pushing a fairly traditional Republican agenda, like tax cuts, and Trump largely goes along with it. The unwritten contract between this bloc and Trump seems to be that they will not break with Trump in public (even when he is  bashing the late and revered-among-Republicans John McCain) as long as he does not stray too far from establishment Republican policies.  

Despite losing the election to Joe Biden, Trump  retained the loyalty of his base supporters  Trump - or Trump-ism – remains a significant force in Republicanism. 

 However the unexpected poor performance of Trump backed candidates in the 2022 midterms election may have peaked. He  remains a powerful force within the party, savaging anyone willing to work with the Democrats.  Until the midterms of 2022, describing Republicans as divided between pro-Trump and anti-Trump forces no longer made much sense — the GOP became overwhelmingly a pro-Trump party. Those who now seem more likely to challenge Trump for the nomination in 2024 such as Ron DeSantis are still determinedly populist and nationalist or a DeSantis is described 'Trump without the crazy'.

October 3rd 2023 -Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was ousted as House speaker after failing to withstand a rebellion among far-right dissidents, as the House voted for the first time in history to remove its leader and entered a period of unpredictability and paralysis. McCarthy later announced he would not seek the position again, setting up an expected intraparty battle for the position second in line to the presidency. 

This has never happened before  in the more-than-240-year history of the House of Representatives. An increasingly radicalized Republican faction that, emboldened since the rise of the tea party, has repeatedly shut down the government and led the country to the brink of a default on its debt. The increased polarization and radicalism in (mostly Republican)  party politics has undermined the traditionally powerful position of the Speaker and given further evidence for the disfunction of Congress.

But, just like Democrats, the broader Republican Party does have some distinct blocs 

Social conservatives Key values:

 • Strong supporters of traditional heterosexual marriage and a pro-life stance on abortion 

• Tend to favour the death penalty, robust policing and tough sentencing 

• Strong links with the ‘religious right’, and white conservative evangelical Christianity

 • Support prayer in public schools 

• Staunch defenders of Second Amendment 

• Oppose legalising the use of recreational drugs such as marijuana Associated in Congress with the Republican Study Committee, which claimed just under 150 members in late 2019. The largest ideological caucus in Congress. Leading figures include senators Ted Cruz (Texas) and Marco Rubio (Florida) and former Vice President and Indiana governor, Mike Pence 

Traditional Divisions

Social conservatives

Social or moral conservatives support traditional norms and values as part of the religious right. They focus on morality according to their religious beliefs (mainly Protestant and Evangelical Christianity). Social conservatives generally have a negative view of illegal immigration and oppose gay rights and abortion rights. On the economy and foreign affairs, they tend to support the official conservative Republican platform. This faction has grown to be a dominant force in the Republican Party, with a huge rise in support from evangelicals. The Christian right is a conservative Christian political faction seek to apply their understanding of the teachings of Christianity to politics and to public policy by proclaiming the value of those teachings or by seeking to use those teachings to influence law and public policy.

In the United States, the Christian right is an informal coalition formed around a core of evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics, as well as a large number of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). The movement has its roots in American politics going back as far as the 1940s and has been especially influential since the 1970s.[16] In the late 20th century, the Christian right became a notable force in the Republican party. Politicians associated with the Christian right include former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum.Often referred to as the 'religious right', this faction encompasses a range of Christian political groups which advocate a set of deeply conservative social policies. These include opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage and stem cell research. Indeed the increasing influence of the social conservatives within the party' is best evidenced by the comments of former Senator Arlen Spector, following his 2009 defection to the Democratic Party, when he said that the 'Republican Party has moved farther and farther to the right'. Many members of the party have been forced to adopt a more orthodox conservative stance on these issues in a bid to secure the party's nomination for president, most notably Mitt Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008. Leading members of this faction include:

· Former Senator Rick Santorum, who came second in the delegate count for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. He stated his support for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and made clear that he favoured a complete ban on abortions, even in cases of rape.

· Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn who, according to the National Journal, held one of the most conservative voting records of the 112th Congress. In particular he is a strong opponent of abortion, sponsoring a number of bills which limit abortion coverage and those which restrict same-sex marriage, such as the 1996 Defence of Marriage Act, which prevented federal government from recognising same-sex marriage.

· House Speaker John Boehner, who claimed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, part of the Republican 'Pledge to America', which was passed by the House in May 2011, was one of the 'highest legislative priorities' of the 112th Congress. The Bill passed the House (251-175) but has yet to pass the Senate (April 2017)

The National Federation of Republican Assemblies is a Religious Right organisation that operates as a faction of the Republican Party. The Christian Coalition is a Religious Right activist organisation considered allied with the party.

The rise of social conservatism can be seen in Congress. In 2003, an overwhelming majority of Republicans supported the ban on partial-birth (late-term) abortion, and in 2016 only a few Republicans voted for the gay-rights legislative amendment. 

Neoconservatives promote an interventionist foreign policy to promote democracy. Many neoconservatives were in earlier days identified as liberals or were affiliated with the Democrats. Neoconservatives have been credited with importing into the Republican Party a more active international policy. Neoconservatives are amenable to unilateral military action when they believe it serves a morally valid purpose (such as the spread of democracy). Many of its adherents became politically famous during the Republican presidential administrations of the late 20th century, and neoconservatism peaked in influence during the administration of George W. Bush, when they played a major role in promoting and planning the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Prominent neoconservatives in the George W. Bush administration included Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle, and Paul Bremer. While not identifying as neoconservatives, senior officials Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld listened closely to neoconservative advisers regarding foreign policy, especially the defense of Israel and the promotion of American influence in the Middle East. 

Republican Fiscal conservatives Key values: 

• Keen to reduce government spending in most areas and to curb government ‘waste’ 

• Strongest advocates of ‘small government’, tax cuts, keen to push back government regulation such as some environmental protection measures

 • Strong supporters of balanced budget and reducing the budget deficit 

• Keen to repeal Obamacare and health spending Key names: Rand Paul and Andy Biggs Associated in Congress with the Freedom Caucus, which claimed around 35–40 members in late 2019. They do not publish official membership lists. Members usually represent strongly Republican areas in the South and Midwest. Emerged out of the Tea Party movement. 

Libertarians/ Fiscal Conservatives

Historically known as Jeffersonian Republicans, libertarian Republicans make up a relatively small faction of the Republican Party. Libertarian Republicans in the 21st century favor cutting taxes and regulations, repealing the Affordable Care Act, and protecting gun rights. On social issues, they favor privacy, oppose the USA Patriot Act, and oppose the War on Drugs. On foreign policy, libertarian Republicans favor non-interventionism. The Republican Liberty Caucus, which describes itself as "the oldest continuously operating organization in the Liberty Republican movement with state charters nationwide", was founded in 1991. The House Liberty Caucus is a congressional caucus formed by U.S. Representative Justin Amash, former Republican of Michigan, now a member of the Libertarian Party (United States) Other prominent libertarian Republicans include U.S. Senator Rand Paul and former U.S. Representative Ron Paul. The libertarian Republican wing of the party has significant cross-over with the Tea Party movement.

The fiscal conservative agenda is very much for cutting the role (and expense) of the state where possible. Some fiscal conservatives such as Rand Paul have a strong libertarian streak, which means they are more socially liberal in certain areas such as soft drugs. They are also prepared to consider measures to cut the prison population due to its vast cost. Fiscal conservatives have a ‘no compromise’ attitude in working with the Democratic Party and resist bipartisan cooperation wherever possible. A good example of such tension is the resignation of Republican House Speaker John Boehner in 2015 when he came under increasing pressure for his bipartisan deals with the Democrats, particularly in resolving the 2013 government shutdown. 

Fiscal conservatives drive a conservative economic agenda, advocating a smaller government, especially one that follows a laissez-faire economic policy. Most fiscal conservatives support the abolition of the estate tax (inheritance tax) and reductions in other tax rates, as well as Fiscal conservatism can be seen in the rising influence of the Republicans' Freedom Caucus. The defeat of moderate conservatives by Tea Party Candidates in primaries in 2010, 2012 and 2014 helped push the party to the right. This sparked the development of the Freedom Caucus, containing approximately 40 members of the House, which has pushed a conservative fiscal and social agenda with a 'no compromise' attitude. It refused to support Obama's economic packages or seek compromise in any way, and prevented moderate and even conservative Republican plans to compromise on legislative deals. In 2017 The Freedom Caucus attempted to exert influence over the Trump presidency by sending him a list of 228 regulations that it wants removed, including environmental regulations, nutrition rules for school meals and corporation regulations. It has largely replaced the Tea Party as the main right-wing faction of the Republican Party. This group advocates free-market economics, a minimalist governmental approach to the economy and a balanced federal budget. Fiscal conservatives specifically promote a programme of reducing both business and personal taxation, moderating the regulation of businesses and cutting government expenditure. The influence of this faction within the party has most recently been evidenced by the rise of the Tea Party Caucus (now named Freedom Caucus) in both the House and the Senate. Indeed the clash of Tea Partiers with old-guard Republicans was best witnessed by their zero tolerance approach to the 2013 budget negotiations, in which John McCain lambasted as 'bizarre', the refusal of leading Tea Party Republicans, such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, to consider raising the US debt ceiling. Republicans rebel over fiscal cliff 2012

Republican Moderates Key values: 

Less socially conservative than the other factions of the Republican Party

 • Advocate a bigger role for the state within society and the economy

 • Unwilling to repeal Obamacare in its entirety

 • More sympathetic towards immigration and higher public spending on education Key names: Senators Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Congressman John Katko Associated in Congress with the Tuesday Group (founded 1994) with roughly 15–20 members. Tend to come from suburban seats. The smallest Republican grouping in Congress. 


Moderates support traditional conservative economic policies, such as low taxation and small government. However, they are typically more socially liberal than social conservatives - for example, they support civil-rights issues including gay rights and abortion. Moderates will accept higher taxes or more government programs in order to support greater social harmony.

Moderates have gained positions of power in the party. For example, President George W. Bush horrified Conservatives with major increases in government expenditure and his push for more liberal immigration reform. Relative Moderates John Boehner and Paul Ryan have resisted attempts by others to push the party further to the right.

Republicans such as Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins have supported same-sex marriage. As Collins stated in 2014, ‘A number of states, including my home state of Maine, have now legalized same-sex marriage. Nearly 44% of Americans live in a state where same-sex couples can be legally married, and I believe this number will only continue to grow.’ In June 2020, Susan Collins publicly criticised the Trump administration after it announced that it would abandon Obama administration non-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ+ community under the Affordable Care Act. ‘The Trump Administration’s decision to eliminate protection for transgender patients is simply wrong. I’ll work to overturn this discriminatory policy.’ Before Trump, the last two presidential nominees, John McCain (2008) and Mitt Romney (2012), were both examples of moderate Republicans; 

The most moderate are sometimes referred to as RINOs (Republican in Name Only). Senator Susan Collins of Maine was one of only three Republicans to support Obama's 2009 stimulus package budget. She supports gay rights, and she tried to broker a compromise deal over Obama's plans

Moderates are organised into the Main Street Partnership, a caucus created in 1994 as a reaction to the rise of conservative Republicans. Following the 2016 elections, the Moderates made up a larger group of congressional politicians than the Freedom Caucus. They have lost power, however, as they have shown a lack willingness to compromise and build a coalition with moderate Democrats as the two parties have moved further apart. However, their website lists many bills initiated by their members that have successfully passed into law.

Despite considerable evidence of an increasing partisanship, both parties still have a number of core factions which serve to influence and shape the policy directions of the party in some way. Indeed the regional diversity of America, and the increasing use of primaries to select candidates, mean that, despite temporary dominance by ideological groups, the practical considerations of winning elections lead both sides to retain a broader ideological base. This is partly in order to win over the political centre ground, while also appealing to the individual ideological positions of the electorate in the various states and congressional districts across America. As a result, both parties include a range of factions, which compete for influence within the party. 

The Republican moderates tend to adopt a less conservative view towards many aspects of social and fiscal policy. The faction has become known as the Main street Partnership, because of its more moderate and centrist views. The influence of the moderates, however, previously a dominant force in the party, has arguably declined in recent years. This is perhaps best evidenced by the fact that the last two presidential candidates, despite being seen as previously moderate individuals, were forced to adopt more conservative positions in order to secure the party's nomination. In 2008 McCain's stronger position on immigration, and his choice of Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential candidate, were crucial in galvanising Republican grassroots supporters and key conservative donors to his presidential bid. Similarly, in order to run successfully in 2012, Mitt Romney was forced to abandon his previous commitments to 'preserve and protect a woman's right to choose' and to defend his Massachusetts healthcare law, labelled 'Romneycare'. The main members of the moderate faction include:

· Maine Senator Susan Collins, who has given a degree of support to both legalised abortions and gay rights. She was one of only eight Republican senators to vote in favour of the repeal of the 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy.

· Pennsylvania Representative Charlie Dent, who since 2007 has been co-chair of the Republican Tuesday Group, a group of moderates who meet weekly to discuss mutual policy priorities. In the 113th Congress it retained 45 Republican moderate members, a similar number to the House Tea Party Caucus.