ARE REPUBLICAN VOTERS RETURNING TO THE FOLD?
(No, really, I'm serious.)
In the new Washington Post/ABC poll there seems to be a hell of a lot of evidence that voters are now solidly in the Democrats' camp. But I see some bad omens.
And I don't just mean the usual discouraging news -- that Hillary Clinton is only 4 points ahead of Rudy Giuliani, even though
Just 24 percent [of poll respondents] think the nation is on the right track, and three-quarters said they want the next president to chart a course that is different than that pursued by Bush
Thirty-nine percent of Americans said they now have a favorable impression of the Republican Party, lower than at any point since December 1998....
I mean the fact that -- whether or not they have a favorable impression of the GOP -- formerly disaffected voters seem to be returning to the GOP fold.
Check out a couple of trends buried deep in the poll's data (click for larger images):
In the "Do you think of yourself as" question, Democrats had a 12-point lead in January. Now they have a 6-point lead.
Among leaners, since January, the Democrats' lead has shrunk from 23 points to 8 points. So when you get to "net leaned party," the Democrats' advantage, which was 22 points in January, is 9 points now.
Party non-loyalists really liked the Democrats in January. Now that huge advantage is rapidly dwindling.
Is this a trend? Will the gap in party identification keeps narrowing? If so, it might not even be statistically significant by Election Day. That's a frightening thought.
We shouldn't assume that certain voters are rejecting the GOP just because they say they're dissatisfied with the GOP. These numbers suggest just the opposite. It looks as if Republican-leaning voters are acting pretty much like us -- we're exasperated by the Democrats, but we still vote Democratic. These numbers suggest that a lot of voters are getting ready to vote for a Republican Party they find exasperating.