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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Partisan Shoreline

At The New Republic, William Galston looks at Gallup and Pew data.  Although he has noted differences between the current election and the one that gave Bush a second term, he does see a "partisan shoreline" that looks more like 2004 than 2008.
Not that much has changed for Republicans since then. Today, their favorable rating stands at 44 percent, and unfavorable at 50. The big shift has come for Democrats, whose edge over Republicans has completely disappeared. Only 43 percent of registered voters have a favorable view of the Democratic Party (down 13 points), while 52 percent have an unfavorable view (up 13 points). The erosion has been especially severe among men (15 points), whites (17 points), voters 35 to 54 years old (17 points), and Independents (12 points). Only nonwhite voters are more favorably inclined toward the Democratic Party than they were four years ago. And while a successful convention can provide a boost, history suggests that any such improvement in public perceptions of a political party is likely to disappear by Election Day.
On August 23, the Pew Research Center released a report entitled “A Closer Look at the Parties in 2012”, backed by more than 20 pages of detailed tables. Pew’s findings are consistent with Gallup’s. In 2008, Democrats plus Independents who lean Democratic constituted fully 51 percent of registered voters, versus only 39 percent for Republicans plus Independents who lean their way. But now, the 12-point Democratic edge of four years ago has shrunk to only 5 points, 48 to 43, statistically indistinguishable from the split in 2004. Among whites, the Republican edge has expanded from 2 points to 12; among white men, from 11 points to 22. While Democrats have lost ground in every age cohort, they still maintain an edge of 19 points among Millennials, down from 32 points in 2008.
Drilling down more deeply, Pew finds finer-grained trends. Republicans have made only modest gains among college-educated men, and none at all among college-educated women. But among men with less than a BA, Republicans have turned a 6-point deficit into a 3-point edge; among less educated women, the Democratic advantage has been pared from 20 points to 8. Relative to 2008, Republicans have made no gains among registered voters with household incomes of $75,000 or more, but they are doing much better among those making less than that. And all of these changes are more pronounced among white voters.
As Galston pointed out in November, the Republicans might have thrown away a potential victory by nominating an incompetent candidate.  But in spite of his many faults as a candidate, Romney easily clears the competence threshold.