Monday, December 04, 2017


Pollster Geoff Garin is excited:

He's citing this report from Gallup:
Forty-four percent of U.S. adults identify as Democrats or are independents who lean to the Democratic Party, while 37% are Republican identifiers or leaners. Democrats have maintained an edge of between five and nine percentage points on this measure of party affiliation throughout 2017....
This seems like good news, but read on:
Democrats' edge has expanded this year mainly because of a decline in Republican affiliation. A year ago, 44% of Americans identified as Democrats or leaned Democratic, the same percentage as now. However, Republican identification and leaning is five points lower than it was a year ago.
So the country isn't becoming more Democratic.

And while we should be happy that there are fewer self-identified Republican, please note this:
Over the last 10 years, Democrats have yet to trail Republicans in any month. At best, Republicans have tied Democrats, as they did in August 2010 and August and September 2015.
Yes, and what's happened since the 2008 elections? Democrats have lost a large number of seats in the House, Senate, and state legislatures, as well as many governorships. According to Gallup, this happened despite the fact that there was never a month in all that time when self-proclaimed Republicans outnumbered self-proclaimed Democrats.

There are a lot of reasons for this. Gerrymandering and vote suppression reduce the effectiveness of the Democratic vote. Democratic participation goes way down in non-presidential elections. In addition, it's often the case that a large percentage of the voting population claims not to be Republican but votes consistently Republican. (These are the folks who claim that Congress is made up of two liberal parties and Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan are RINOs. Your right-wing uncle is probably one of them.)

The new Gallup numbers come from polling conducted throughout the month of November -- in other words, before the Senate passed a tax overhaul. The GOP drop in this survey coincides with a period when congressional Republicans failed to attain any of their policy goals. So I assume many of the so-called ex-Republicans Gallup found were really yellow-dog Republicans who merely claimed to be independents because they'd persuaded themselves that McConnell and Ryan are liberal sellouts.

Do you want to see what the numbers look like when a Democratic wave election is coming? Check out the left side of the expanded Gallup chart:

That period around 2008 when Democrats had a 53%-34% advantage? That's what I'm talking about. We might get to that point if Trump remains in office for years, especially if there's an economic downturn. But we're not there yet.

What Democrats have is a smaller advantage. We need to learn how to take advantage of it, by voting in every election as if it's a presidential election. (This year's Virginia elections were a good start.) The advantage might widen in the future. But we're not in blowout territory yet.

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