The Republican Party (often referred to as the GOP, for "Grand Old Party") is one of the two major political parties in the United States' two-party system, along with the Democratic Party. The Republican Party was established in 1854 by a coalition of former Whigs, Northern Democrats, and Free-Soilers who opposed the expansion of slavery and held a vision for modernizing the United States. The party initially had its base in the Northeast and Midwest, but in recent decades that has shifted to the inland West, and especially the South. In the modern political era, the Republican Party has been the more socially conservative and economically libertarian of the two major parties.
Within the West Wing universe, the Republicans hold a majority in both the House and the Senate, though Democrats hold the White House. By the end of the series, the GOP has lost three presidential elections in a row -- the first two to President Bartlet, the last to Matt Santos -- and has (narrowly) lost the House of Representatives to the Democrats. Prominent Republicans in the West Wing universe include Arnold Vinick, the 2006 nominee for president, and Jeff Haffley, the combative House Speaker. Glen Allen Walken, a former Speaker of the House, served as acting president (forfeiting his speakership in order to do so) when Bartlet temporarily stepped aside in 2003. Rob Ritchie, the 2002 Republican nominee for president against Bartlet, is frequently mentioned in the series but is actually seen very little.
As a general rule, The West Wing portrays Republicans as misguided but formidable foes for the Bartlet Administration and Santos campaign.
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