Monday, March 26, 2007

Pew Research Center

The Pew Research Center for People and the Press released last week its yearly survey of “Trends in Political Values and Core Attitudes.” This survey has been completed yearly since 1987 and is a goldmine of public opinion nuggets. I could write blog posts for weeks covering all the material. But I won’t. Read it for yourself.

I will highlight a couple of factoids I thought were particularly fascinating from their summary:
Views of many corporations vary significantly among Democrats along class lines. Two-thirds of working-class Democrats have a favorable view of Wal-Mart compared with 45% of professional-class Democrats.
Americans feel increasingly estranged from their government. Barely a third (34%) agree with the statement, "most elected officials care what people like me think," nearly matching the 20-year low of 33% recorded in 1994 and a 10-point drop since 2002.
I’m not surprised that fewer people agree that “most elected officials care what people like me think.” Dissatisfaction with government is very high. Think how that will impact the 2008 elections. Right now I wouldn’t be surprised to see big changes with even more incumbents losing, like in 2006.

That potential is buoyed by striking changes in party identification. Right now 50% of Americans consider themselves Democrats, while only 35% side with Republicans. That’s quite a change from 2002 when there was an even split at 43%.
Yet the Democrats' growing advantage in party identification is tempered by the fact that the Democratic Party's overall standing with the public is no better than it was when President Bush was first inaugurated in 2001. Instead, it is the Republican Party that has rapidly lost public support, particularly among political independents.
It's unclear how the partisan divide has changed in North Carolina. Our style of polling makes that kind of analysis difficult, but we will keep an eye out for other polling data. North Carolina has followed the national pattern in its opinion of President Bush and the Iraq War, for example. So don't be surprised to see some change in party identification towards the Democrats here too.

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