Thursday, October 7, 2010

Republicans still lacking with moderates

One of the more remarkable things about the likely big win Republicans are headed for next month is that they're doing it without having improved their appeal to the center at all since the 2008 election.

Barack Obama defeated John McCain 60-39 with self described moderates, according to the national exit poll. Our last national generic ballot poll found Democrats ahead 58-28, showing no improvement whatsoever

It's a similar story in some of the closest Senate races. Obama only won moderates 51-46 in West Virginia. Joe Manchin has a 29 point advantage over John Raese with them. In Colorado Obama won them 63-35...Michael Bennet leads Ken Buck by a pretty identical 56-32. In Nevada his advantage was 64-33...and Harry Reid led Sharron Angle 64-28 with them on our last poll.

The fact that Republicans are winning this election without showing much appeal to moderates is another reminder that the main reason for the pending GOP onslaught is the disengagement of Democratic voters. Conservatives will make up a much larger portion of the electorate this year than they did in 2008 and that's put Republicans in a position to make big gains without even having to develop a message that's appealing to the center.

That's the reason why this year's Republican resurgence may prove to be short lived and why much of what the party gains this year could be lost again in 2012. The formula they're using for victory this year- fire up the base, forget the moderates- may work for a midterm election but it's not likely to be particularly sustainable in a Presidential year. If Republicans want the 2012 election cycle to be as enjoyable for them as the 2010 cycle has been they have a lot of work to do to broaden their base.


Anonymous said...

Independents are in the center.

Moderates are predominantly on the left half of the spectrum.

40% conservative
40% moderate
20% liberal

A Republican who wins 100% of conservatives only needs 25% of moderates to win.

Of course, it's not quite that simple, since some self-identified conservatives reliably vote for Democrats, but the fact is that a large portion of "moderates" are really part of the liberal Democrat base and are not swing voters at all.

wt said...

Uh oh. What category am I in if I'm a moderate conservative?

Help The 99ers said...

It's important to recognize that Independents aren't always in the middle.

Some are to the left of mainstream Democrats, and others, disenchanted with the previous Administration, are to the right of mainstream Republicans.

It would be interesting to see where people who self-identify as Independent have been on the political spectrum in their past.

Anonymous said...

The republican base will continue to decrease year after year and it will be harder and harder for them to win statewide and national elections because the electorate is changing. By mid century Hispanics will be the majority race and they are leaving republicans in droves. Pew Poll out this week showed Hispanics favor Democrats 65% and the youth that are 18-40 are the future voters and 75% of them are democrats. Obama had over 70% of them vote for him 2008 and it will only increase in 2012. The older white population is dying off and the are majority republicans. Haven't seen any republican rally's at any USA university. Face the facts, no matter what they do this election cycle they are done in the next decade.

NRH said...

Self-reported 'moderate' status is meaningless. There are a great many people who claim to be conservatives and mean 'I don't want things to change from what they are now' and people who claim to be conservatives and mean 'I want to go to my imaginary version of the 1950s with gays in the closet and blacks in 'their place'.' Similarly, a lot of people call themselves 'moderate' and mean 'well I certainly don't want to be considered and extremist!' regardless of their political beliefs.

The only way to actually judge the liberal/moderate/conservative breakdown is to ask questions about the positions people hold and assign them to categories based on their actual beliefs, not their self-reported label. When such trials are made, it's remarkable how different the breakdown is.

This would be an excellent question to see PPP do sometime. Two polls with the same set of questions but different orders - one asking a series of issue questions first on a variety of topics, then asking about the liberal/moderate/conservative label, and the other the same but asking for the label first.

DBL said...

Hispanics aren't leaving the Republicans at all. Republicans took only 22% of Hispanics in 1996. This increased in 2000 and again in 2004 before dropping to 32% in 2008. I can give a lot of reasons why some Hispanics prefer the Republican Party, not the least of which is that the average Hispanic is MORE socially conservative than the average Republican.

Puerto Rico has long been dominated by the NPP, most of whom are Republicans. The current governor, senate President, and House speaker are all Republicans.

There's no doubt that immigration is a thorny issue with many Hispanics, but this issue is likely to be solved in the next 10-15 years. As Puerto Rico shows, if you remove the immigration issue Republicans will do just fine with Hispanics.

Obama took 67% of the 18-29 vote. That's significant, but it's questionable if that's sustainable over time. When you include only Republican and Democratic votes Bill Clinton got 60% of the 18-29 year olds in 1996. In 2008 Obama got just 53% of this group, the same percentage overall. Some people, as they get older, become Republicans for a variety of reasons.

It's also questionable whether Obama's success with the youth vote will carry over to other Democrats. In the 2009 gubernatorial race, Creigh Deeds got 44% of 18-29, 44% of 30-44, and 41% of 45+. His skew was fairly flat.

It's difficult to say that Republicans are the ones dying off when the evidence indicates the contrary. Democrats took 56% of 65+ in 1992, 53% in 1996, 52% in 2000, 48% in 2004, and 46% in 2008. If this trend continues, the next 10 years look fairly rosy for the GOP.

It'll be interesting to see how the 18-29 age group and Hispanics vote this year. When Barack Obama is on the ballot again the electorate will surely be different, but it'll be interesting to see how these groups vote when he's not. The 2008 vote might have been an outlier. Since Obama will on the on the ballot for Democrats once more, they'll have to find some other way to get these groups.

Al Pippin said...

According to Gallup, Moderate voters are LEAST likely to vote of all self identified ideological groups who will vote in 2010, versus Conservatives who are MOST likely to vote - and by a 2-1 margin. Lets face it, any Republican candidate pandering to the more moderate voters, in an attempt to gain a few more votes, will do so at the risk of losing many of his/her more conservative voters and their votes. It's called simple math and wise political strategy.

NRH said...

"Democrats took 56% of 65+ in 1992, 53% in 1996, 52% in 2000, 48% in 2004, and 46% in 2008."

That's exactly the point. Democratic strength had a large bulge of older voters who were around when Social Security and Medicare were first created (by Democrats). Those voters aged out and are in those statistics being replaced by the next generation of elderly, who don't have that experience of life before social programs. Democrats built strength with other voting groups, notably consolidating minority votes and urban areas. Republicans have, by contrast, hitched their wagon to that inevitably-limited supply of cranky old conservatives. In pure statistical terms, in ten years a significant chunk of the current Republican base will be dead, while the most favorable Democratic demographics will have continued to grow.

Voting habits set early and do no actually change a lot over the course of a voter's life, statistically. There are very few people who voted Clinton-Clinton-Gore in the tea party, and very few people who voted Reagan-Bush-Dole among the Democratic ranks (that is, voters, not politicians, where switching is more visible). Relying on elderly voters without ensuring that the *next* generation of elderly voters grew up voting for you is electoral suicide. And that, thankfully, is the path Republicans have taken. If Republicans continue to be the party where racists find a home (even if not all Republicans are racists, Republicans fail routinely to denounce the racism within their party when it emerges), then they will remain locked into fighting for a partial share of the shrinking percentage of the population that is white.

Anonymous said...

First off, what i think this post is missing is that it assumes the ideological balance of the country is going to stay constant, and that there are always going to be about a 40-40-20 balance between Conservatives, Moderates, and Liberals. According to Gallup, since 1992 the number of Liberals has grown 3 points while the number of Conservatives has grown 6 points and the number of Moderates has dropped 8 points. The increasingly Conservative makeup of the electorate might not be only turnout, but also recent Conservative Converts as well

Anonymous said...

If you see the new Gallup poll, it's not that Democrats are disengaged this year, it's that Republicans are ultra-engaged. That's the difference.

Christian Liberty said...


It is Republicans that overwhelmingly win the support of the center.

It is Democrats that are far outside the mainstream... and suffering huge losses because of their arrogance toward the center of the American political spectrum.

Democrats have pushed themselves SO FAR OUT OF THE MAINSTREAM that Republicans now own the center.

Christian Liberty said...

Democrat formula is fire up the base, ignore the independents. Republican base is listen to and represent the independents AND the base. No wonder Republicans are winning. No wonder Americans are turning on the Demoncrats from coast to coast.

For leftists to still blather on about Republicans supposedly being insular just shows how deep Demoncrats are still in denial about their evil and destructive policies, their demagoguery and deceptive politics, and their complete lack of any understanding of what America wants and needs from its leaders.

Your infantile post just proves the intellectual superiority of the right... and shows why Demoncrats will remain a minority for a generation if they do not tell their left-wing base to get lost and return to the center.

Christian Liberty said...

Your incessant blathering about moderates not confirming the conservative shift of the national electorate just proves how fallacious it is to stubbornly insist that moderates are a valid reflection of the electorate.

Christian Liberty said...

"Barack Obama is destroying the Democratic party. It may not recover for a long time. In this, he most closely resembles a synthesis of the failed candidacy of George McGovern and the catastrophic presidency of Herbert Hoover. The damage he is doing to his party’s image and prospects closely resembles the harm Hoover did to the Republican party, from which it did not recover for 20 years after he left office. And the extent to which Obama is discrediting the Left parallelsthe damage George McGovern did to his ideological confreres in 1972, when he went down to flaming defeat.

In a sense, America met its first conservative in 1981 and fell in love. We met our first liberal in 2009 and are running away screaming. FDR was too long ago to count, Lyndon Johnson too distracted by Vietnam to make an impact. So Obama is the first full-throated liberal to be president in our lifetimes. And we won’t soon forget him and the lessons his failure is teaching us.

Strangely, the Democrats don’t yet get it. They whistle a happy tune as they march off the cliff. There is no voice of dissent against Obama’s policies, no mumbled animosity, no suppressed discontent. The party is solid as a phalanx behind its leader even as he sends it to political death."

Unknown said...

NRH, did you actually read what I wrote? Let's take it further back. In 1980, Carter's #1 demo was 18-29, with the others about even. In 1984 Mondale was fairly flat. In 1988 and 1992 the Democrats did best with 65+. 1996 saw 18-29 as their #1 demo, but 65+ was again their #1 demo in 2000.

That 18-29 advantage that Clinton had in 1996 never translated into an advantage with 30-49, even all of them are 30-49 now. If some of the Clinton-Gore voters didn't start voting Republican where did they all go? Why didn't that translate into a 30-49 advantage? Why will it this time if it didn't before?

The Republicans attempted to pander to the voter from 2001-2007. George Bush went liberal on some issues and Tom Delay thought that would help them keep the majority. They didn't. You don't win if you pander. You provide policies that take the opposite stance of the opposition party, so that people have two choices. America didn't need two big spending parties. It only needs one.

Republicans don't rely on elderly voters. Their philosophy has more appeal to older voters. Young voters have few worries. Many don't have to provide for themselves and those that do make little money. Of course, they're fine with taxing those who are making more money. It's no skin off their nose.

As people get older they discover a few things. Government isn't going to provide for you. You have to do it on your own. You're working hard to make money and feel that you shouldn't be punished for be successful. You start a family. It's a lot easier not to worry about taxes when you don't have people to provide for. When you do, you get more selfish and want to keep more of your money.

As people get older and are responsible for themselves for a longer period of time they are no longer living under their parents' rules. They don't want to be told what light bulb to buy, what car to drive, and that they have to recycle. They feel a sense of individual responsibility, especially when they've seen that government isn't getting it done for them.

Of course not everyone goes through this. And they don't change their political views. Republicans will always appeal to an older demographic than Democrats.

The future is unknown. Gallup has found that the percentage of people 18-29 who are pro-life is at an all time high. Hispanics are far more likely to be pro-life than Whites and Blacks.

Christian Liberty said...

Revenge of the Hillary Voters

"Democrats have undertaken an experiment in whether you can be the self-styled party of working people if you don't have much appeal to a swath of working people."

It is incredibly hypocritical for leftists to talk about Republicans leaving behind significant swing voters, given how Demoncrats have turned off (and turned against) independents and working-class voters.

Unknown said...

In 2008, Obama beat McCain 67%-33% with 18-29. Democrats in the House did worse 65%-35%. What's more, Obama got 53.5% of the vote, while House Democrats got 55.6%. 18-19 indexed 126 with Obama, but only 117 with House Democrats. That's a big drop off, since people who vote Democratic for President typically support the party for the House. Clearly, a number of young Obama voters aren't loyal Democrats.

Anonymous said...

Re: The Revenge of the Hillary Voters, that article makes a couple pretty misleading citations of polls. It cites Obama's low #'s among whites back in the 2008 West Virgina Democratic primary (26%), then, jumps to his approval rating among whites nationally in January 2009(63%), and then jumps back to Obama's #'s in West Virginia. But instead of using his numbers among Dems, it uses his overall approval rating among all voters (29%).

Basically, for whatever reasons, Obama is not, and was never popular in West Virginia. He never had a 63% approval rating there in January 2009 - that was national - so trying to act like he's "lost" tons of support in places like West Virginia is misleading.

Al Pippin said...

Some of those responding to your post went a little astray in addressing the issue of Hispanic voters and their impact on the future of politics - particularly so for the Democratic party. As such, I thought I would add my "two cents" to this matter.

Gallup on 10/1 reported that The Democratic party has lost 20% of it's support from Hispanic voters -just since this past March.

Clearly, Obama, along with his party's Representatives reluctance / unwillingness to proceed on the issue of immigration reform (until after November's elections) has had a rather profound affect on the current, as well as future prospects for the Democratic party - well beyond this November's elections.

Irrespective of how Obama, his administration and party attempt to resolve this issue, they will inevitably lose the support and future votes of many within and outside their party's base. Any attempt to grant amnesty to immigrants that are already in this country illegally will only serve to further erode support from Democrats who are already in opposition to such a proposal. While failure to do so will cost the Democrats even more of it's, once reliable Hispanic voters, along with an awful lot of those (non-Hispanic) voters who are strongly, if not adamently in favor of providing amnesty for those who are in this country illegally.

Either way, Obama and the Democratic party (in general)had better start preparing itself for, what possibly be an even worse beating come 2012. It's most certainly beginning to look that way.

Al Pippin said...

In 1994 (16 years ago) 40% of likely voters described themselves as being conservative. Today, 54% of likely voters say the same. As for the 18-29 year old voters, of whom you seem to think will age with the same ideological mind set as they had when they were younger - think again. That same age group has ALWAYS leaned Liberal-Progressive- Democrat and ALWAYS will. Year after year after year, the Democrats have relied on the youngest of voters to faithfully (and blindly) vote for them. That's because they are basically idealistic, naive and essentially ignorant about life and what it beholds. Generally speaking, they know little and could care less about politics and what it represents - and what it is supposed to represent. Many, if not most, couldn't even tell you who the Vice President of the U.S. is. As they grow and mature and begin to actually experience what life gives them - and what it doesn't - like having to take on the responsibilities associated with being an adult; having to rely upon themselves to find a job (and then keeping it), paying their bills, getting married and having children and then trying to raise them to the best of their abilities, buying a home (when possible), paying the mortgage and on and on and on, perceptions and ideology changes, as does principles and values. As such, so often do politics and political alliances and allegiances. To not understand any of that - the natural order of life and humanity, utterly amazes me. It really does. Good luck on... oh, never mind.

Anonymous said...

It all depends on what your definitions of conservative and moderate are. When asked if someone views himself as conservative, more people will call themselves conservative than do when presented with a list of positions, which conservatives hold.

It also depends on who is asking and who is answering. It seems this year there has been a rather interesting slant in polling towards Republicans. This bias only becomes more pronounced when likely voter filters are employed.

Just because someone is not enthusiastic does not mean they will not vote. And, conversely, jumping up and down waving a poster and wearing funny hats does not mean someone will definitely show up at the polls.

The increased use of robocalls to poll, the number of cell phones, and caller ID have made polling more and more troublesome.

Viewing the demographics of some popular pollsters such as Gallup, shows that overwhelmingly this year their data makeup is increasingly older and whiter and conservative.

Pollsters have been having problems with the new paradigm. This is not a normal year. People look at this as a repeat of 1994 or 1892. They forget 2002 and 1936.

In the end, when the votes are finally counted--which may take weeks if the majorities in the races continue to be razor thin--you will have a new batch of conventional wisdom by people who get paid to ask questions and provide no answers.

It is my hope that all the incumbents this year lose--incumbent pollsters, that is.

Unknown said...

Results like 2002 would be fine for the GOP. They finished with 52.4% of the vote and 230 seats. If they do that this year, they'll have a net gain of 51 seats. 2002 was the GOP's second highest vote total since 1946. Their 229 seats were only 3 off the highest total since 1946.

People often look at net gains and losses in order to determine how good a year a party had. 1994 only looks better next to 1992, but really the two years were pretty much the same.

What people seem to forget is that on November 2 each party will start out with 0 reps, not a 255-178 spread. The Democrats would have to get 55% of the vote again to not lose seats.

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