Number of what on the rise?
by Jerome Armstrong, Sat Apr 03, 2004 at 10:48:56 PM EST
In 1969, 32% called themselves Republican, 49% Democrat, 19% Independent, and 0% claimed other/not sure. That was the peak Democrat period. The peak Independent period was in 1979, when 31% claimed Independent, 41% Democrat, 22% Republican, and 6% claimed other/not sure. The peak Republican period was in 1990, when 33% claimed Republican, 38% claimed Democrat, 25% claimed Independent, and 4% claimed other/not sure.
The partisan difference of 1990 showed Democrats with a 5% lead, and in December, 13 years later, Democrats still have a 5% lead. However, all three have dropped. Those calling themselves Republican has dropped to 28%, Democrat to 33%, and Independent to 24%. The number of those claiming other/not sure has risen to 15% for 2003. In fact, this number is increasing significantly over the past decade:
And on it goes, to 0% in 1969. People claim that we are in a most polarized state of the union, but it's not that simple. Republican and Democrat support has dropped 4% and 16% respectively since 1969, now totaling an all-time low 61% of those claiming a partisan identification. In that same period, the number of those claiming themselves Independent has risen 5%, and the number of those claiming other/not sure has risen to 15%, for a total of 39% that are opting out of the polarization.
This is significant, especially in terms of thinking about 2004. Right now, those 39% have no alternative than to choose a side. However, I wouldn't be shocked to see an alternative candidate come in to fill the void. It's hard to imagine such a person, given the percieved polarization of the debate, but a significant number of people have already opted out, in fact, they have the plurality lead.
What it also might mean, and a number of writers have argued this from both sides, is that this plurality of those not siding with either the Republican or Democrat identification are in the process of re-alignment with either of the parties. Republicans would say the trigger is issue-oriented and Democrats would say it is demographic in nature. At least for now, they are probably both correct, which would mean the gap will get even wider before a partisan re-alignment occurs. There are also compelling arguments that the polarization is happening at a state level, that the blue states are becoming bluer, and the red redder. There's not a simple answer here, but it is compelling data.