Are the Democrats Too Liberal?

The headline from Gallup yesterday reads: "More Americans See Democratic Party as 'Too Liberal'." Indeed, the proportion of Americans saying this has gone up from 39 percent to 46 percent in the last year, at the same time as the proportion of those saying the Democratic Party's views are "about right" has declined from 50 percent to 42 percent. Bad news for the Democrats, right? Not necessarily.

Leaving aside for another time the debate over whether being viewed as liberal is necessarily a bad thing in American politics (or at least as bad as it once might have been), it's worth noting that the Republicans have been seeing a very similar trend in recent years. Currently 43 percent of respondents say that the GOP is too conservative -- not too different from the proportion calling the Democrats too liberal -- a number that has consistently risen for the past six years. The proportion calling the Republicans' views "about right" is actually significantly lower than that of the Democrats, with just 34 percent saying so (down from 51 percent in 2003).

Even more importantly, however, are the views of Independents -- a group that now theoretically should be more Republican-leaning than it once was given the high number of former GOPers who have left their party in recent years. Among Independents, Gallup finds 38 percent calling the Democrats' views "about right" and just 25 percent calling the Republicans' views about right. Again, considering that a significant portion of those now calling themselves Independent were not long ago Republicans, this margin separating the views of the Democrats and the Republicans is quite striking. And in the zero-sum game that is a two-party political system, when one party isn't viewed tremendously well but the other is viewed significantly worse, the former generally has an advantage over the latter.

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NY-Sen: Overlooked Parts Of The Quinnipiac Poll

Everyone has a reaction to the Quinnipiac poll unveiled yesterday that shows Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand trailing Rep. Carolyn Maloney 27 percent to 23 percent, with four percent of respondents saying they backed Jonathan Tasini and 44 percent of those surveyed saying that they are undecided, a huge total which will no doubt help the eventual winner in such a primary.

But while that might be the most important statistic from the poll, there are actually others that give you an idea that while Maloney might lead in a primary, that lead might not be what it seems.

There are a few other numbers from the poll that are worth highlighting:

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The young generation may be lost to Republicans

Looking at this graph of party identification by age in the U.S., I was not surprised to find 40-year-olds like me in the best cohort for Republicans. My peers vaguely remember the oil shocks and high inflation of the 1970s, and then came of age during Ronald Reagan's "morning in America." In those days, many young people proudly identified with the Republican Party. As they grew older, lots of them continued to vote that way.

Americans who were growing up during the presidencies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are much more likely to call themselves Democrats or independents than Republicans. They also voted Democratic by large margins in the 2006 and 2008 general elections. If Republicans can't figure out a way to compete with this group of voters, Democrats will have a built-in advantage for decades.

Fixing this problem won't be easy for the GOP and may even be impossible, for reasons I discuss after the jump.

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A rising tide of gay voting power

This diary examines a trend in gay electoral politics in the next decade for a vital voting bloc that either party can win until we see substantive outcomes. Lost in the discussion of gay rights like marriage equality is the rising tide of gay power at the ballot box. I want to take this time to discuss a recent post by Chris Bowers at Open Left. This is mostly just an idea that I am developing about what I believe will be a rising time of gay political voting power in the next decade.

In the diary titled "Electorate Becoming Increasingly LGBT," Chris discusses the impact of self-identifying LGBT communities on Democratic and Republican electoral outcomes.

He states the following:

"Specifically, this means that 5% of the electorate will self-identify as LGBT by 2016 at the latest, and that 6% of the electorate will self-identify as LGBT by 2028 at the latest. It is possible, though not a certainty, that this number will rise to 7% in the 2030's, even as early as 2032. Further, if the self-identified LGBT percentage of the population under the age of 45 increases rather than remains stagnant, then the 7% figure will definitely be reached in 2032, and even higher percentages might occur in the future." torate-becoming-increasingly-lgbt

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Doing What Comes Naturally During a Makeover

While Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter's announcement that he was switching from the Republicans to the Democrats may have gratified the latter and upset the former, no one should have been surprised by it. Historically, party switching is common, indeed inevitable at times of party realignment.
Spurred by the rise of a new large dynamic generation and the emergence of a new communication technology, realignments occur about every four decades in U.S. politics. The most recent one began with the election of Barack Obama last November. These large political makeovers normally enthrone a new dominant national party. Beneath the surface, realignments are characterized by major shifts in the voting coalitions that support the two parties.
If history is any guide, Arlen Specter's move from the Republican to the Democratic Party will not be the last during the next several years.  Let the switching begin.

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