Romney to win by a landslide?

| September 3 2012
Christopher Cook

That’s the contention of Paul Rahe in Another Straw in the Wind, a piece that looks at recent party identification polling from Gallup, Pew, and Rasmussen.

A few days ago, I drew attention to a Gallup poll indicating that, for the first time in the last twenty years, Americans thought better of the Republican Party than of the Democrats. Later that same day, I pointed to a Pew Foundation poll reaffirming the drift towards the Republicans. Today, I came across further evidence pointing even more emphatically at the same conclusion.

For ten years now, Rasmussen has been studying partisan trends. Its latest survey indicates that, for the first time in that period, more Americans self-identify as Republicans than as Democrats.

Rahe then goes on to correct that statement slightly—the GOP actually moved ahead by a nose in 2010, but the gap is now wider than it’s ever been. Using these data, Rahe predicts a landslide.

The prediction is not at all unreasonable. This election, like all elections, will turn on who comes out to vote. Party identification is a huge indicator of two things.

First, it indicates a trend of sentiments: If more people self-identify as Republicans it means an increased favorable attitude towards Republicans. This means more votes for Republicans. In other words, the electorate as a whole has become more Republican.

Second, it indicates enthusiasm: If the trend is moving away from Democrats and towards Republicans, then Republicans will enjoy an enthusiasm advantage. In other words, the Republican portion of the electorate will turn out in greater numbers.

The data do show that the enthusiasm gap, like the growing identification gap, is real:

(Click for a larger version)

If these trends hold, Republicans could enjoy another blowout victory year. Nothing is set in stone, though, and the Democrats—with help from the media—will be pulling out all the stops to eke out a win.

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