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September 08, 2008

More Good News from USAToday/Gallup Poll: Democrat-Republican Identification Is at Narrowest Gap Since, Like, Ever or Somethin'

Wow... sort of.

In the new survey, more voters call themselves Republicans. Now 48% say they're Democrats or lean to the Democratic Party; 47% say they're Republicans or lean to the GOP.

Not since February 2005, right after Bush's second inauguration, have Republicans been within a single point of Democrats in party identification.

What's more, voters by 48%-45% support the Democratic candidate in their congressional district, the party's narrowest advantage this year.

I say that's "wow... sort of" because we all know sometimes polls get bad samples, with one party oversampled. Of course, this is usually the Democratic Party.

But of course it happens the other way too, on occasion -- and it seems to have happened here. The Democrats usually enjoy a 6-8 point split on party ID lately. Although it's possible the Republicans have suddenly narrowed that gap to nothing, I'd want to see a lot of confirmation on this before concluding that.

If this is a bad sample, it also throws into question that outsized ten point lead McCain-Palin now supposedly have (at least with likely voters).

But the Gallup Poll (and I think Gallup's own poll, which is just called the Gallup Poll, is different than the one they run for USAToday as the USAToday/Gallup poll) also has McCain-Palin up by 5 points:

That [six-point bounce] is slightly better than Barack Obama’s four-point bounce from 45% in Aug. 22-24 polling before the Democratic National Convention started to 49% immediately after it concluded. Since 1964, the typical convention bounce has been five percentage points…

McCain’s current 49% share of the vote is his best performance in Gallup tracking to date. His five-point lead is his best since early May, when he led Obama by six points (48% to 42%). Obama has led throughout much of the campaign, and has led nearly all of the time since he clinched the Democratic nomination in early June.

As we know from 2000, 49% is basically a majority of the country at this point (because 2% will vote minor party).

Rasmussen shows a statistically insignificant one point lead for the McCain-Palin team.

The one point lead is insignificant, but the seven point shift in opinion (Obama was up six at his peak) is not.

Barack Obama: The One

McCain-Palin: The Two

Two > One.

Google it.

What if It's Real? It is possible the sudden shift in party ID is real -- but not particularly significant.

Most "independents" are not really all that independent. They don't like party labels -- either because they don't like labels generally ("I'm too complex for labels" -- um, no you're not; You get the label of the guy who thinks he's too complex for labels), or like thinking of themselves as "independent minded," or because they don't like the people actually running the parties -- but they are, in fact, mostly aligned with one party or the other.

Frank Luntz is always pointing this out. They say they're "independent." They're lying -- partly to themselves ("No way am I a Bible-thumping Repubican!") and partly to others to maintain the image of not being a "joiner" or a follower. When he focus-groups these independents -- well, really "undecided voters" -- he usually finds they actually have decided, pretty much, but just like saying they're uncommitted.

So they do have a poltiical ideology -- and it usually tracks more closely with one party or the other, and despite their protestations of being "undecided," they wind up supporting the candidate you'd expect them to support, based on demographics and basic ideology.

Now, the Repubican brand is "scarier" than the Democratic brand. It's easy to be a Democrat -- all the swells in Hollywood, all the stars in rock n' roll, all the nice smart unbiased reporters on CNN and MSNBC and the late-night talk shows are constantly putting out the message that being a Democrat shows you're smart, nice, educated, progressive, forward-thinking, and (crucially) cool and hip, while if you're a Republican, you're dumb, cruel, ignorant, retrrograde and you bitterly cling to your guns, religion, and hatred of Domincans, pus, of course, you're not only not cool, but you're totally judgmental and bogus and are probably a narc or somethin', man.

If anyone has made the transition from Democrat to Republican (as I have), you know what I'm talking about. Calling myself a Democrat in my youth was a cost-free choice. Hey, they were the cool guys.

My transition occurred over a series of steps: First I was a moderate Democrat who believed in a more capitalist vision of the economy and a decidedly more muscular military posture than the crazies in the party, plus a more punitive stance on crime, plus I was kind of skeptical about identity politics and quotas. And.... unions, too.

And quite frankly the environment, too. Who needs it?

At some point I realized that, um, I really wasn't a moderate Democrat at all, because all of those points were simply not Democratic positions at all, and I became, in my head, either a 'centrist who votes Democratic" or an "independent who votes Democratic."

And then I started splitting tickets and voting for Republicans a lot more. At this point I think I may have called myself a libertarian, not knowing really what the fuck it meant, just knowing it sounded cool and accurately reflected the fact I was not a Democrat, but also kept me far away from the despised Republican label.

And then I woke up one day, decided "Who the hell am I fooling anymore?," and decided I was comfortable enough with my sexuality to come out of the closet and admit I had a profound, unquenchable desire to fuck the working man and dirty foreigners (90% of whom probably have AIDS anyway).

The environment also probably has AIDS. You can't spell "Snail-Darter" without AIDS. (I haven't.)

Point is, it's hard to call oneself a Republican. Much harder than it is to call oneself a Democrat. There are independents put-off by the Democratic brand, and yet who are ideologically reliably liberal (at least center-liberal), but I'm guessing there are about double or tripe the number of Repubican-ish independents who view the Republican lable as the Scarlet R for Repression and Repugnancy.

When someone makes the Republican label "cool" -- as Reagan did for a time, as Bush did for a briefer time, as the McCain/Palin Independents with Integrity ticket is doing now -- many of those Indpendents-in-Name-Onlies (IINO's) feel comfortable enough to admit what's kind of obvious to everyone but they themselves, that, given the binary choice of Republican or Democrat, they're on the red side of the ROYGBIV spectrum. Orange maybe, or maybe just yellow, but definitely lower-frequency.

So it is possible that we've suddenly seen all those Yellows and Orangres begin admitting they're Reddish.

But while this is possible, it's also not particularly significant-- the thing is, even without that self-identification (self-admission is more accurate) of their Republican leanings, they were probably going to vote for us anyway, "Independent" status be damned.

There is almost certainly some component of real net gains -- the McCain/Palin ticket appeals to those sick of partisan warfare, and also those sick to death of corruption and compromise (the bad kind) in Washington, and so some of these disaffected-Republicans-coming-home really do represent new votes we otherwise would not have gotten.

How many? Don't know. Some. It's an impossible question to poll on, because you can't ask,

Question 23. A few minutes ago you said you were an Independent, which was such a ridiculous lie I want to laugh in your fat lying face. And laugh, and laugh, and laugh, and laugh. Now, when you stop yanking my crank for five frigin' minutes -- you don't embarrass me; you embarrass yourself -- what party do you really most closely identify with, and stop being such a fucking liar, Mr. Fatty McLieFace, and give me a straight answer for once?

but if they could ask that, they'd probably find the partisan split has never been as big as the polls indicate.

Either way, though, surely it's a good thing that people are feeling more pro-Republican now and are not so put off by the toxic designation.

Joke Theft: "Think about it... I haven't" stolen from the tremendously great Strangers with Candy.

Could possibly be a Stephen Colbert line (writing it, not speaking it), just to give a liberal props.

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posted by Ace at 01:54 PM

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