Despite spending the last 9 months battering the president's agenda, the Republican Party has neither gained any traction with voters nor has it appreciably damaged the Democratic brand.
A Democratic source noted, on Monday morning, that the aggregate polling data for how voters list their party affiliations has remained remarkably steady since the Obama administration took office. If anything, the GOP's appeal has worsened.
In late January, a USA Today/Gallup poll recorded 27 percent of respondents saying they identified with the Republican Party, 36 percent with Democrats and 25 percent as unaffiliated or independent. Now in mid-October, the average data compiled from dozens of surveys over more than a year shows Republican ID at 22.5 percent, Democratic ID at 33.7 percent and Independent ID at 35 percent.
Considering how much political capital Republicans have put into depicting the president and his agenda as anathema to basic American values, the numbers seem surprising and noteworthy.
The highest identification ranking for Republicans came in a February 2009 Rasmussen poll, where 34 percent of respondents listed themselves as party members. That was far and away the outlier. Since August there have been 18 public opinion polls conducted which have measured party identification. Of those, just one showed more than 30 percent of the public affiliating itself with the GOP. Twice, Republican self-affiliation was below 20 percent. By contrast, ever single poll during that time period has had Democratic Party ID above 30 percent, with a high of 38 percent in the month of August.
The results should come at some relief to those Democrats who are despondently self-assured of massive losses in the 2010 election (though, to be sure, national polls aren't always predictive of individual contests). There may be a large pool of independent or undecided voters waiting to be swayed in one party direction or another. But they aren't trending Republican. If anything, they are staying away.
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