Friday, January 29, 2010

Another Problem for Democrats

We have numbers on the Senate and House races in Alaska coming out Monday and one thing in them really struck me. Lisa Murkowski's approval rating with independents is a negative 43/44 spread. Yet she still leads a generic Democratic opponent by 15 points, 42-27.

As odd as that may seem it's not an isolated development in our polling. In November we found Roy Blunt's favorability with independents at a pitiful 23/44 and Robin Carnahan's at a still bad but much better 33/40. Despite that gap Blunt still led Carnahan 44-32 in the poll.

Our North Carolina Senate poll last month had Richard Burr's approval with independents at a negative 31/38. But he still led a generic Democrat 40-36 and held 7-9 point advantages against the three actual Democratic candidates with that group.

This is looking well into the future but when we polled John Ensign a couple weeks ago his approval with independents was 37/43 but that didn't stop him from having leads of 13-34 points against the three Democrats we tested as hypothetical 2012 opponents.

We saw in Massachusetts that independent voters are willing to go for a Republican even if they don't like the party, but in that instance they actually liked Scott Brown. What may be more disturbing for Democrats is the Republican officials who independents personally dislike, but will still support because they like the Democratic Party even less. It's something the party will have to find a way to overcome to be successful this year.


Christian Liberty said...

Independents give Republicans poor approval ratings because the Republicans have not been conservative enough. Same reason why those who have negative impressions of both congressional democrats and congressional republicans still prefer Republicans for Congress by margins of 3:1. Remember that the proportion of the population that is conservative is twice as large as that which is liberal (Gallup).

Christian Liberty said...

And Menendez's idea (per DSCC) of smearing Republican candidates as tea party candidates will do nothing to solve this problem. It will only show Democrats to be more out-of-touch, more delusional, more elitist, more arrogant, more condescending. When will Democrats learn that Americans approve of the Tea Parties and are offended by the left smearing them as "extreme" or "hate speech"? If Democrats try to PRETEND that Tea Parties aren't overwhelmingly popular, Americans will see every Democrat as another arrogant Martha Coakley.

Stephanie said...

That's depressing... but some of those people who call themselves independents are probably people who called themselves Republicans before 2007-08, and still vote GOP in almost every election but don't call themselves GOPers because they hate political parties now. Can you look at the partisan breakdown of the respondents in these polls as against comparable polls from 2006? I bet you'll find more indies, many fewer Republicans, and about the same or a slightly smaller number of Democrats. No consolation, since Dems in these districts used to need some Republican support to win; now they need "independents" who vote like angry Republicans.

livfreeordi said...

The explanation for your numbers is pretty simple if you look a bit deeper.

The US is a center-Right country.. NOT center-Left...and the 2008 election did nothing to change that.

National polls consistently show that more people self describe themselves as "conservatives" than "liberals". These conservative voters deserted the GOP and became independents in recent years because they felt the GOP deserted conservative principles, but despite their anger at the GOP, there is no doubt that they STILL have an even more negative opinion of the Democratic party which seems to have been taken over at the national level by its most extreme left wing.

Given a choice between the Republican and Democratic brands.. the Republican brand, though still not conservative enough for these independent voters, is still vastly preferred by them to a hardline liberal Democratic brand.

You only have to look as far as recent elections in Virginia , New Jersey and even Massachusetts to see the evidence for this argument.

Democratic leadership continues to pursue a single minded liberal agenda at the peril of the whole party.

This could end up causing more long term damage to the party than either Carter or Clinton.

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