Ironicly, I'd probably have been a democrat until Reagan in Michigan. Bill Milliken (a pro-abort high tax gun grabber who backed John Kerry) is a RINO today, but his types controlled the GOP at the time. Largely rich liberals, while democrats were more populist blue collar labor. Richard Headlee broke through in 1982 and the Engler/Headlee wing eventually took contol, resulting in a 1990 monumental win.
And until recently, there were a lot of conservative democrats in Michigan, and almost 1/3 of the legislators today still are sometimes social conservatives. About 1/4 to 1/5 of the GOP still have shades of Millikenism. The rest are either more libertarian, religious conservatives, or somewhere in between.
Dan, here in south Georgia, until Reagan came along, you could not run for office and have a prayer of winning without the "D" beside your name.
Back when I got involved in politics- 1964- the area was probably 80% Democrat. That said, it wasn't as bad as you might think- the Dems around here in those days were strong supporters of the military, advocates for the 2nd amendment, and generally understood the importance of the Bill of Rights.
Unlike the new breed which has displaced them, they were not enemies of America or the average American. I long for the days of Sam Nunn, Scoop Jackson, and Pat Moynihan.
Political parties, however, are not a religion and I'd have no problem changing to something other than R.