Gallup Poll: Republicans Lose In All Demographic Groups Except Conservatives, Churchgoers And Seniors

A new Gallup poll provides evidence that the Republican party has now been seriously downsized in support from 2001 to 2009 — steadily losing ground in a host of groups across the boards, particularly among college graduates and moderates.

The groups that have held largely firm have been conservatives, churchgoers and seniors — groups already considered part of the party’s base — indicating more than ever that the GOP is evolving into a group playing to itself and its base but not making the adequate inroads required to build a new politically dominant coalition or successfully win over the bulk of younger voters.

Gallup’s conclusions, its graphs and a chart more than ever underscore the seriousness of the GOP’s now raging debate over who is a “real” Republican because it provides evidence that trying to convince existing members of the Republican coalition will not be enough. Gallup doesn’t find any major new erosion of the GOP right now under President Barack Obama, but it doesn’t find any growth at a time when identification with the Republican party has plummeted.

The decline in Republican Party affiliation among Americans in recent years is well documented, but a Gallup analysis now shows that this movement away from the GOP has occurred among nearly every major demographic subgroup. Since the first year of George W. Bush’s presidency in 2001, the Republican Party has maintained its support only among frequent churchgoers, with conservatives and senior citizens showing minimal decline.

So far in 2009, aggregated Gallup Poll data show the divide on leaned party identification is 53% Democratic and 39% Republican — a marked change from 2001, when the parties were evenly matched, according to an average of all of that year’s Gallup Polls. That represents a loss of five points for the Republicans and a gain of eight points for the Democrats.

How extensive is this shift?

The parties were also evenly matched on basic party identification in 2001 (which does not take into account the partisan leanings of independents), with 32% identifying themselves as Republicans, 33% as Democrats, and 34% as independents. The 2009 data show the GOP losing five points since then, with identification increasing three points among both Democrats and independents.

This has major implications for Republicans in the short and long term. The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza writes:

Put simply: Toss-up demographic groups eight years ago have moved en masse in Democrats’ favor, leaving the GOP with only its base still on its side.

This Gallup analysis makes clear the significant brand damage the last eight years of the Bush Administration have inflicted on the party and seems to suggest that the problems are so widespread that no one candidate or even one election will solve them.

While former president George W. Bush is not on the ballot in 2010 (or even 2012), the party must find a way to re-define itself away from the past eight years if they want to recruit swing demographic groups back to their side.

The task facing Republicans who want to win elections, versus run candidates who make political ideological statements, becomes even more formidable when some aspects of this are looked at a bit closer.
The problem can be grasped in a glance by this Gallup graphic:

GOPLOSESSUPPORT.gif

And it can be seen in detail by studying this Gallup chart:
GALLUPCHARTGOPLOSS.gif

But to get a sense of how serious it is for the GOP, be sure to read this MUST READ POST at Newshoggers which brings together several polls and shows how the Republicans’ problem is that it is now losing emerging younger voters — indicating that as it heads into the 21st century all signs so far are that the party’s political plight could get worse and not better…unless it changes its approach.

Cillizza gave some bottom lines so here are a few more:
1. The Republican party as a national political organization has to find a way to detach itself from the talk radio political culture that used to be a component of it in terms of “rallying the troops” but has now become the tail wagging the elephant. Talk show radio hosts and the whole culture of demonizing opponents doesn’t attract voters who are concerned and seek solutions. Talk radio by its nature seeks to carve off a demographic, get it riled up and deliver it to an advertiser. The same techniques (us versus them, exaggeration and demonization) are perilous if used as a national strategy in a game that requires coalition building and winning over voters who may be skeptical.
2. Political parties function best when they aggregate interests. The GOP, using Karl Rove’s base mobilization strategy which had its day in an American that now seems a world away, used at 50 plus one strategy that aggravated many interests.
3. The GOP’s big problem is how to hold onto its loyal customers without alienating the customers it needs to win. This is complicated by the fact that some of its loyal customers don’t want the party to be able to appeal to the customers it needs to win.
4. The poll suggests more than ever that the GOP needs a fresh face to start a genuinely new “conversation” (a word that has now become cringe-worthy when used by politicians) with voters. Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh are all too 20th century and associated with the years when the Republicans lost support. Jeb Bush is too associated with a certain last name. The party needs a new face…with a new name — and a new attitude towards those who don’t share the views of the party’s existing conservative base.

SOME OTHER REACTION TO THIS POLL:

Read political scientist Steven Taylor’s post in full. A tiny part. Here he answers a conservative who insis the party is losing because it isjnt conservative enough and has treated the base poorly:

There are two rather major problems with his “analysis.”

First, the party isn’t losing its base, it is losing everything else.

Second, the Rove strategy, especially in 2004, was a base mobilization strategy, not a treat the base like doormats strategy. Indeed, the Bush/Rove years were not exactly exemplified by the GOP going out and forming a party based on what McCain would call RINOs–indeed, it was just the opposite.

--The American Conservative:

Gallup finds that the GOP is in retreat among almost all demographics. Meanwhile, Robert Stacy McCain does fierce battle against that most dangerous of creatures: the conservative who is taken seriously outside of the confines of the cocoon. The Gallup findings are interesting, because they show that conservatives are among the least likely to have stopped identifying themselves as Republicans, yet they remain convinced that pursuing an agenda geared towards appealing to them (and only to them) is the means to win back all the other people who have drifted away since ‘01.

Washington Monthly:

The Republican base — which is to say, the only voters who are leaving the party slower after the last eight years — includes frequent churchgoers, self-identified conservatives, and voters 65 and older.

If this doesn’t scare GOP leaders, they’re just not paying attention.

My DD’s Jonathan Singer’s take on this needs to be run in full. A small section of it:

The numbers are even more clear when the large share of the electorate now self-identifying as independent was asked whether it leaned towards one party or the other. Eight years ago, independents split evenly, giving the Democrats a narrow 45 percent to 44 percent advantage within the electorate when leaners were included. Today, the Democratic advantage is a whopping 14 points, 53 percent to 39 percent.

Digging further into the data, literally only a single subgroup has not shifted at all towards the Democrats in the past eight years — frequent churchgoers. Shifting only a point away from the Republicans were conservatives, those aged 65 and older and the nonwhite. African-American voters moved away from the Republicans during this time period by only 2 percentage points, and those without a college degree moved 3 percentage points away from the GOP during this window of time.

American Power has an extensive post that needs to be read in full. Here are a few excerpts:

Some of Gallup’s graphs are indeed dramatic. But none of this is really new. The scale of the GOP defeat was evident on election night, and party ID had been trending Democratic since the 2004 presidential election. Not only that, Republican support is now concentrated in the party’s traditional base of religious voters, social conservatives, and elderly voters. As Gallup notes, the hemmorhaging has stopped, since the GOP “does not appear to have lost any more support since Obama took office.” A recent Pew survey found similiar results: “… the GOP has lost roughly a quarter of its base over the past five years. But these Republican losses have not translated into substantial Democratic gains.”

The Republican Party, basically, has been reduced to its historic core…And Franky, this could be the best thing to happen to the party since Barry Goldwater in 1964 (folklore has it the Lyndon Johnson’s landslide marked the high-point of Democratic power, and the the party held the White House just twice more in the 40 years before the election of Barack Obama in 2008).

The bottom line is this: As the party in power, the Democrats have quite likely reached the peak of their congressional majority. The winnowing of GOP moderates is having the counterintuitive effect of shifting the entire Congress more firmly to the ideological right.

–At Hot Air, the lively and often insightful conservative blogger Allahpundit writes:

First, the Republican Party will be forward-looking – it is time to stop looking backward. Republicans have spent ample time re-examining the past. It has been a healthy and necessary task. But I believe it is now time for Republicans to focus all of our energies on winning the future by emerging as the party of new ideas. Republicans are emerging once again with the energy, the focus, and the determination to turn our timeless principles into new solutions for the future.

David Knowles:

Men are leaving the party. Women, too. Whites, blacks, the young, the middle-aged, retirees. Those who live in the East, Midwest, West and South of the United States. Those of upper incomes, lower and middle. Married people, single people. People who have never graduated college, and especially those who have are all ditching the GOP. The only group in Gallup’s findings that have not left the shrinking party are those who “attend church weekly.”

Gallup notes that the major fall off can be linked to George W. Bush’s time in office, and specifically makes mention of a tipping point occurring after Hurricane Katrina and Bush’s choice of Harriet Miers as a Supreme Court nominee.

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  • jchem

    “The task facing Republicans who want to win elections, versus run candidates who make political ideological statements, becomes even more formidable when some aspects of this are looked at a big closer.”

    Isn't this part of a general problem though? If it is all about “winning elections” then what's the point in actually trying to govern? Politicians who want to win will say anything to get elected to anybody who will vote for them. Then they go to Washington and we all wonder what happened to those campaign promises–you can see it now in many corners on the left. The Repubs have serious problems, no doubt, and I'm not sure they will become a force anytime soon. But I also think that all of this finger-pointing going on about how dysfunctional the Repubs are serves us no purpose at all. If anything we should be taking a critical look at those who are in power, who do have the ability to set policy and control things. Remember the last time one party controlled everything? It didn't work out too well did it? Perhaps a little more focus on those in power will keep this disaster from repeating itself.

  • jwest

    Joe,

    Wouldn’t you say that the major news from this poll is the dramatic shift in party affiliation (including leaners) towards the Republican Party?

    This shows people moving away from Obama and Democrats in droves.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/15370/Party-Affiliat

  • jwest

    This article is a prime example of how the liberal media deceives the simple minded. Chris Cillizza and the editors at the Washington Post didn’t miss the fact that the stunning news from the new Gallop poll was the dramatic shift away from the Democrat party to the Republican Party in the past month.

    In order to confuse and minimize this sea change, the MSM looked back for a high water mark in Republican identification and compared it to today.

    Why not compare the Democrat identification today to May, 1963? It would have about as much relevance.

    Most readers don’t have multiple sources of information to look at articles with a critical eye. The apathetic, incurious and generally dim simply take what is written as fact.

    Hopefully, with a little additional reading and some intellectual honesty, the truth will come out.

  • Rudi

    jwest – You cite the poll and ignore the trending from previous polls. The last month appears to be an outlier. What swung the last election wasn't party affiliation, but large numbers of independents voting for Democrats.

  • tidbits

    Rudi gets the significance of polling. It is not the immediate rush of the latest daily tracking poll (these change with the daily headlines), but the trend line over a measurable and significant period of time.

    What is missing from the analysis is a discussion of changing demographics and what that portends going forward. This might be referred to as the “Replacement Factor”, those who will replace the aging poplulation (still holding onto Republican identification) as their numbers are diminished through attrition. Those replacemnt voters are either a) young or b) immigrant. It would have been interesting to add to the polling the leanings of the 15-17 year old demographic who will be entering our voting booths over the next two to four years. That polling might not be directed so much at Party ID as it would be to specific impact issues like gay marriage.

    It strikes me that if we add the key factors of 1. trend lines, 2. Republican losses through attrition and 3. The leanings of key demographic replacement voters, the Republicans are in a precarios position. And, the longer it takes them to recognize and correct the problem, the further behind they will fall. As an editorial aside, this is a troublesome occurrence at a time in our history when a strong minority party could serve us well in ameliorating the natural excesses of one party rule.

  • http://greendreams.wordpress.com GreenDreams

    I consider jwest a decent predictor of what the GOP base thinks, so I'm delighted to see another dismissal of obviously bad news and a delusion that things are going swimmingly for the GOP. Yes, keep it up, guys. And by the way. Goodbye and good riddance.

  • jwest

    Now I understand.

    When the polls favor democrats, they are scientific proof of known truths.

    When the polls favor republicans, they must be outliers that mean nothing.

    This “reality based” thinking is fun.

  • SteveK

    Just The Polls… All The Polls… And nothing but “The Polls”

  • theBuckWheat

    In writing the Constitution, the Founder's sought to maximize liberty rather than to maximize government. Even under Reagan, government grew in size and consumed more of our liberties. Many voters know this, and see the two major parties as just different sides of the same big and Bigger government coin.

    If the Repubicans want to be more than just Dem Lite, they need to return to our real roots, that being the roots of liberty.

  • Rudi

    When the polls favor republicans, they must be outliers that mean nothing.

    An outlier is a single poll or polling source that differs significantly from the consensus of multiple polls, regardless of party affiliation or partisanship. True random samples should be neutral. Call back in a month or two when Gallup and other polls show similar results.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Heminger/817049559 Matthew Heminger

    Nice ad hominem…I won't respond in the same vein…the mosrt recent month may well be an outlier…further polling will determine that. I'd say that Amercians are prone to cross party lines and votie issue/candidate and not strictly party…this means that the Republican party is just a good candidate away from the White House and not a sweeping generational change. Also before you count your chickens GD (a common liberal failing) please watch the upcoming congressional elections and see how your party does.

  • gwhiddon

    Testing – just registered.

  • SteveK

    Matthew Heminger said: “Nice ad hominem…I won't respond in the same vein…”

    Matthew, as the only blow back (not ad hominem) in this thread was to a comment made by “jwest” can we assume that you're “jwest” in a new guise or are you another fresh 18%er with an opinion?

  • opiela

    Things can change in a day. A year before the national Presidential election most peole didn't know who Obama was.
    A two party system is bad enough. A one party dictatorship spells the end of the Republic.