The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows the sturdiness of a public option: after some five months of trash-talking and mud-slinging, it’s still holding at 57% favorability.
But amid the myriad of health care questions posed in this survey, a surprising numerical morsel arose: only 20% of Americans now identify themselves as Republicans.
Mind you, this ain’t no Zogby or Rasmussen hijinx. Those competing pollsters, although not as mainstream, are actually just as credible, if not more so. Nonetheless, I’d hazard the ABC News/Washington Post names carry a bit more weight out in the public square.
20% is the lowest figure on this measurement in 26 years. What’s more, “Among Republicans themselves just four in 10 are confident in their own party.”
On its face the 20% number is actually misleading. Just because Republicans clock in at 20% doesn’t mean Democrats are at 80%. Those identifying as Independents, whether registered officially or just saying so because they feel disenchanted and all trendy-like, make up a sizable middle position at 42%. This leaves 33% who call themselves Democrats.
33% isn’t none too high either, right? I didn’t think so until I put it like this: comparing the 20% and 33% suggests more than twice as many Americans identify as Democrats than Republicans. 65%, in fact.
If we’re to believe this poll, which is scientific, derives from a random national sample, and possesses a 3.5% margin of error, that’s notable.
Or is it? What words are truly important? Which get to the crux of a person’s political leanings? Is it more telling that when asked, the same sample also identified as 23% liberal, 38% conservative and 36% moderate, further substantiated here? This re-raises the question above: are past Republican voters underreporting party affiliation because it’s chic? And, what does a party represent? Do we need a new one?
To add to this conversation, CNN’s latest poll, in cahoots with the Opinion Research Corporation, also shows low numbers for Republicans, at 36% favorability, whereas the Democrats are at 53%.
You may be wondering how those digits stack up historically. Only twice since 1992 has the GOP dipped to 36% or lower, in June 2007 and December 1998. It’s otherwise been in the 40s and mid-50s, and broken 60 just once. And they’ve been in the 40s or lower for four and a half years. By contrast, the Dems have been above 46% in all of those polls, and more often than not in the mid-50s or low 60s.
This isn’t the end of the Republican Party but there are some droopy indicators for them. The data here suggest the name Republican itself is hurting them. Kim Jong-Il probably has higher favorables, especially after that class picture with Bill Clinton.
Perhaps there is a shred of good news: 1% of respondents have never heard of the Republican Party. This is probably measurement error, but oh, who knows, maybe it’s not, and starting from scratch with a few people might be best at this point.