Monday, August 20, 2007

Trends in Party Identification

Pew Research Center

The Economist has an interesting report on trends in party identification.
The obvious cause of the right's implosion is the implosion of the Bush presidency. Mr Bush has the worst approval ratings since Jimmy Carter—29% according to Newsweek and 31% according to NBC News. Only 19% of Americans think that America is headed in the right direction under Mr Bush. An astonishing 45% of Americans, including 13% of Republicans, support impeaching Mr Bush, according to the American Research Group.

The most obvious cause of the implosion of the Bush presidency is the disaster in Iraq. The Republican Party's biggest advantage over the Democrats has long been on foreign and defence policy. You voted Democratic if you cared about schools and hospitals. But you voted Republican if you cared more about keeping America safe in a dangerous world. September 11th 2001 turbo-charged that advantage. The Republicans used the “war on terror” to roll over the Democrats in elections in 2002 and again in 2004.

But the war in Iraq has buried this vital advantage under a mound of discredited hype (“mission accomplished”) and mind-boggling incompetence. A CBS News/New York Times poll found that only 25% of people approved of Mr Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq. An ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 63% of respondents did not trust the Bush administration to report honestly about possible threats from other countries. The damage is not limited to the Bush administration: a Rasmussen poll on July 25th-26th found that Mrs Clinton outscores Mr Giuliani as the candidate voters trust most on national security.

The article concludes:
The Republicans have failed the most important test of any political movement—wielding power successfully. They have botched a war. They have splurged on spending. And they have alienated a huge section of the population. It is now the Democrats' game to win or lose.

You can find more graphs on these trends at The Pew Research Center.

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