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A Chinese woman prepares to pay for her purchase of groceries with RMB100 notes (approximately USD 13) at a food store in downtown Beijing, China on April 10, 2006. Washington and Beijing have jousted for months over China's reluctance to let the yuan trade freely in financial markets, which many in Congress say keeps its exports artificially cheap. (UPI Photo/Stephen Shaver)(UPI Photo/Stephen Shaver)

In my column this week, I analyze how the upscale and downscale wings of the evolving Republican coalition could divide over retrenching Medicare and Social Security if the GOP wins unified power in 2012.

The same polling I used to highlight that fissure also points to other potentially significant areas of convergence and divergence between the traditional college-educated core of the GOP base, and the growing non-college, working-class component of the party's coalition. These contrasts could presage other strains that Republicans might face implementing an agenda if they sweep control of the White House, House and Senate next year.

Another big potential divide in the party centers on trade. Almost all national GOP leaders support expanding free trade agreements. But an October National Journal/United Technologies Congressional Connection Poll found much more ambivalence in the GOP base when it asked Americans whether they supported or opposed the free trade agreements Congress recently approve with South Korea, Panama and Colombia.

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