A recent Gallup Poll shows that Republicans made some significant gains in brand identity over the summer (1). Republican-friendly voters have risen 3%.
Per Gallup, 42% of Americans now identify themselves, or lean, towards being Republican. Republicans started 2009 off with just 39%.
Republicans last held a 42% identity ranking in late 2006 — so while the most recent 2009 numbers are an improvement, this is also the same level of public support as during the disastrous 2006 elections.
History: Based upon the 2000 and 2004 elections, Republicans must run at least toe-to-toe with the Democrats in voter party self-identification popularity to have a chance at winning. With voters almost evenly splitting their loyalties in 2000 and 2004, only Florida’s questionable votes pushed Republicans over the top in 2000, and Ohio slid in at the last minute in 2004 to give Bush a win over Kerry. In each election Republicans were virtually tied with voters equally identifying with each political party (2 point difference in 2000, 0 point difference in 2004). (1, 2)
Curent Poll Interpretation: After a brutal summer of debate in which Republicans and friends were constantly on attack against the Democrats, the Democrat’s current lead of 6% essentially means: Republicans would soundly lose if an election were held today.
Other polling puts the current situation into more specific perspective. If the 2009/2010 elections were held today (3):
- Senate: Republicans would lose 2 seats (Kentucky and Ohio) and gain 1 seat (Colorado).
- House: Republicans would gain 2 seats; winning in Idaho, Maryland and New Hampshire but losing Alabama.
- Governors: Republicans drop one governorship: winning in Michigan and Virginia, but losing in Hawaii, Rhode Island and Nevada.
The challenge for Republicans is to attract more independents, just as it is for the Democrats to do so. Neither political party can win without the independent vote.
Many Republicans are counting upon 2010 to upset the Democratic control of Congress. History suggests that it should.
About Republican chances in 2010, David Moore of Pollster.com (aggregator and analysis of various polls) has a different interpretation: “It would be a political miracle if the Democrats did not lose seats in the 2010 Congressional elections, yet the polls so far suggest that scenario is doubtful at best.” If Moore is right then Republicans must reach out to even more independents, and Democrats too, if it hopes to keep in 2010 what congressional seats it already has.
The Pelosi Barometer: Perhaps one of the most interesting barometers that I pay attention to is the popularity of Nancy Pelosi. More than any other Democrat, ultra-conservative Republicans and their allies love to attack and to mock Nancy Pelosi. Bad news for ultra-conservatives: her popularity is rising, and rising faster than that of Republicans. So while the Republicans have moved forward by 3% with the general public since January 2009, Nancy Pelosi’s popularity has risen 7% just since August 2009 (4). With numbers like that, Republicans should have a lot to think about.
1 – Washington Post, Morning Fix: Republicans’ Independent Gains?, http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/morning-fix/morning-fix-republicans-indepe.html
2 – Pew Research, Fewer Voters Identify as Republicans, http://pewresearch.org/pubs/773/fewer-voters-identify-as-republicans
3 – Pollster.com, Likely Voters and Mid-Term Elections, Part I, http://www.pollster.com/blogs/likely_voters/
4 – Rasmussen, 57% View Pelosi Unfavorably, But That’s An Improvement, http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/mood_of_america/congressional_favorability_ratings