The acronym GOP stands for Grand Old Party and is used as a nickname for the Republican Party, even though the Democratic Party has been around longer.
The Republican Party has adopted the Republican Party acronym after battling Democrats for decades over its use. The website address for the Republican National Committee is GOP.com.
Detractors have created other nicknames with the GOP acronym, such as Grumpy Old People and Grandiose Old Party.
Earlier versions of the GOP acronym were used for Gallant Old Party and even Go Party. But long before Republicans adopted the Grand Old Party as their own, the acronym was commonly applied to Democrats, especially Southern Democrats.
Early use of the GOP acronym in newspapers
Here, for example, is a reference in July 1856 to the Democrats being the Agitator's Republican Party, a now-defunct abolitionist newspaper from Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. A great relief to the free north, whose resources have always been spent to feed and perfect slavery."
But as The Washington Times' James Robbins points out, Democrats abandoned the Grand Old Party around the end of the 19th century and Republicans adopted the moniker.
The phrase really stuck with Republicans following the election of Republican Benjamin Harrison to President in 1888.
On November 8, 1888, the Republican-leaning New York Tribune declared:
"We are also grateful that under the rule of the great party that helped make the country more honest and powerful, richer and more prosperous, happier in its homes and more progressive in its institutions, than any other country on earth, "The United States will resume the forward and upward march that partially halted the election of Grover Cleveland in 1884."
Robbins did uncover evidence that the Republicans were labeled the Grand Old Party some time before 1888, however.
Get rid of the old in GOP
The Republican National Committee, perhaps sensitive to the portrayal of the GOP as the party of old voters and even older ideas (see above reference to Grumpy Anonymous People acronym), has tried to reinvent itself in recent years. In at least one reference on his website, he refers to the Grand New Party.
In keeping with the way the GOP tries to represent itself, many people, including Republicans, have no idea what the acronym stands for, according to public opinion polls. A 2011 CBS News poll found that 45 percent of Americans knew that the Republican Party stands for Grand Old Party.