Sunday, February 18, 2007

Leading Indicator of 2008 U.S. Election

One of the leading analysts of American politics is Charlie Cook. He began to sense weakness in the Bush administration and the Republican Congress long before the 2006 election.

Now his analysis of recent Gallup polls, pinpoints a strong shift to the Democrats underway. Gallup has been asking in all its polls with which party a respondent identifies. Because they have an annual sample of about 30,000 the margin of error is about ± 0.5%. The trend has been shifting the Democrats way for a number of years. I often read, however, about the increasing tendency, especially with younger voters, to call themselves independent. Gallup has been probing these independents for 15 years to see if they lean to the Democrats or the Republicans.

As Cook puts it about Gallup's new numbers in his latest column:

...the real jaw dropper is when independents are asked which party they lean toward. This is important because historically, independents who lean toward a party tend to vote almost as consistently for that party as those who identify themselves with the party. There are just some people who like to call themselves independents but, functionally speaking, are really partisans.

In this category of leaners, Democrats had an advantage of 1.3 points in 2001. The parties were within the margin of error in 2002, when four-tenths of a point separated them and in 2003, when there was just a one-tenth of a point difference.

In 2004, Democrats had a 2.7 point advantage, and it grew to 4.4 points in 2005.

But in 2006, this category exploded to a 10.2-point advantage for Democrats: 50.4 percent for Democrats, 40.2 percent for Republicans. The remaining 9.4 percent did not lean toward either party.

This 10.2-point advantage is the biggest lead either party has had since Gallup began tracking the leaners in 1991.

Perhaps most alarming for Republicans is that for the Gallup interviews conducted during the last quarter of 2006, the Democratic advantage was a whopping 14.2 points: 52.3 percent for Democrats and 38.1 percent for Republicans.

This to TC is an early sign of a potential Democratic blowout in 2008, taking the presidency, keeping the House of Representatives, and ending up in the upper fifties in the Senate. The Iraq war seems well on its way to destroying Republican dominance in the United States every bit as much as the Vietnam war destroyed the Democrats. Their downfall was postponed by the Watergate scandal but they were not able to avoid it. The Republicans appear to be headed for a similar fate.

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