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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Independents Leaning Left

For nearly forty years now, the GOP has utilized "wedge issues" to woo independent voters. Controversial Democratic stands on issues such as civil rights, women's rights, busing, affirmative action, gay rights, crime and the use of force have been played against the party. With swing voters being the deciding factor in most races, this was a tried and tested GOP strategy. Until now.

In the current election cycle, the shoe is on the other foot. The swing electorate appears, for the moment, to be leaning Democratic. This change has primarily been due to the rapidly declining support for the GOP, rather than an increase in support for Democrats. Faced with an increasingly unpopular president and an increasingly unpopular war, the proportion of Americans who hold a favorable view of the Republican Party stands at 41%, down 15 points since January 2001. But during that same period, the proportion expressing a positive view of Democrats has declined by six points, to 54%." Those numbers speak volumes about the strategic importance of winning the swing voters. . .

"The story of this period is that independents now line up closer to the Democrats than to Republicans," said Andy Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center. "Independents are so down on Bush, so down on the war, that that is a real problem for these Republican candidates once they get past arguing with each other."


A major survey seeking to identify characteristics of independent voters, conducted by the Washington Post, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University, found that unaligned voters view the Democratic Party favorably by a 55-41 margin, and the Republican Party unfavorably, 55-41. Independents were asked which party they prefer on 10 different issues, and they chose the Democrats on nine issues, including healthcare, 48-20; the situation in Iraq, 44-28; global warming, 49-21; and on such social issues as abortion and gay marriage, 43-26. The only issue on which independents preferred Republicans was "the U.S. campaign against terrorism," 39 GOP, 30 Democrat.

"The Republican Party is fragmented, and it really poses a problem," said Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio, who recently conducted a study comparing the GOP electorate of 1997 to that of 2007. Fabrizio also found that the median age of Republican voters has risen substantially over the past 10 years: in 1997, 28 percent were over 55; in 2007, 41 percent were. The percentage of Republicans between the age of 18 and 34 has dropped from 25 to 17, and those between 34 and 55 dropped from 44 percent to 40 percent. This suggests that, at least in the short run, Republican ranks face the threat of depletion.

Yet another difficulty facing the GOP is that there are now significant numbers of Republicans who support government social insurance programs in the areas of health care; the Social Security system as it is now constituted; and strengthened protection for the retired and elderly. In addition, a not-so-insignificant minority of GOP voters now oppose the war.

"In 2004, we needed 93 percent of [registered] Republicans to vote Republican. We can't afford to have 10 or 15 percent stolen by Democrats, especially when we are upside down with independents," Fabrizio said.

And the opposition of Republican Senators and congressmen to liberalized immigration reform legislation has further threatened the ability of the GOP to win a majority in the electoral college. Such key states as Texas, Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada all have substantial and ever-increasing Hispanic populations, and leaders of the Latino community, including social conservatives, have become open and outspoken critics of the GOP.

In short, it's ours to lose folks. We've already demonstrated our ability to play Wiley E. Coyote flawlessly; it's time we dined on fowl at last. . .

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7 Comments:

Blogger Larry said...

If Pelosi and Reid continue to sponsor Bush's war and no impeachment, we will lose again.

title="comment permalink">July 07, 2007 11:27 PM  
Blogger John Good said...

Larry - No argument from me. But I AM becoming hopeful

title="comment permalink">July 07, 2007 11:41 PM  
Blogger Robert Rouse said...

The Democrats have a difficult time. Most of us hold the people in charge accountable - no matter what party they're in. Republicans on the other hand will defend other Republicans to the death. That's a tough situation to overcome. The Demos have to watch their P's & Q's, dot their i's and cross their t's. We're all watching. We're all ALWAYS watching.

title="comment permalink">July 08, 2007 12:02 AM  
Blogger kyledeb said...

I came across your blog through a technorati search and I was wondering if you'd be interested in a link exchange with Immigration Orange. I'm always looking for different perspectives to interact with and value all viewpoints. Email me at kyledeb at gmail dot com if you're interested.

title="comment permalink">July 08, 2007 2:21 AM  
Blogger Peacechick Mary said...

If candidates would focus on doing the right thing instead of political crap, they would win big time. The one who gets us out of Iraq first, wins.

title="comment permalink">July 08, 2007 7:22 AM  
Blogger Chuck said...

Good numbers and great picture!

Could it be possible that the tide is really turning.

title="comment permalink">July 08, 2007 10:42 AM  
Blogger Jeff Pruitt said...

The Republicans always need an enemy. Be it blacks, russians, arabs, mexicans, activist judges, welfare queens, homosexuals - They simply cannot win on ideology alone and must use fear to win.

Of course the shortsightedness of this approach is eventually you alienate so many people that you can no longer sustaine a majority...

title="comment permalink">July 08, 2007 1:45 PM  

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