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More Americans now call themselves Republicans than Democrats

  1. Dec 15, 2004 #1
    The Republicans are not just the majority party in government; they now hold the edge against Democrats in national party identification. What has caused this shift in political identification – even as the Republicans themselves move even further to the right? Could it be that the Democrats need to move further to the right or risk losing even more power in Washington (a la Clinton) – I suppose the answer to that question centers on whether this is a true shift to the political right OR if this is more a product of Democratic mismanagement.

    Article citing Gallup -


    So, back to the question first mentioned above -

    It's reasonable to suspect it's the political moderates that the Democrats are losing. To them, maybe perceived spokesmen, like Michael Moore, don't seem so moderate. Don't speak to them or for them. Note that the country watched Moore, along with his films (and books), as he received the Democratic imprimatur at the Democratic Convention, which right or wrong, may very well have connected the two in the moderate mind. – Are the Democrats attempting to be too inclusive, thereby alienating themselves from the middle?

    Yet, there is an alternate possibility – could it be that Karl Rove is just this much of a political genius? Bush won in 2000 despite the popularity of Clinton / Gore and despite the huge economic growth during that period. Bush won again in 2004 despite the war in Iraq, despite the economy, and despite the budget.

    In short, what's the cause of this political shift in party identification IF NOT a real move to the right?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 15, 2004 #2


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    The democrats themselves are moving to the right. Traditionally, the US political landscape has been biased towards the right side, and partially, this can be seen as part of the international movement to the extremes, due to the climate of fear in which we all live. The democrats, these days, have lost any sort of positive identity. The liberals only support them as an anything-but candidate (Moore did not consider himself a democrat), whilst to the centre/right they lie deeply in Bush's shadow.
  4. Dec 15, 2004 #3


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    Can you give some examples? The way I see it, they are moving more to the left (caveat below). If they were moving toward the right (center), they would be centering themselves on more of the population and should get more votes(ie, Clinton), not less (ie, Congress). And the popular activists (Moore) are certainly getting more extreme.

    The caveat to that is, of course, your point about a lack of identity. Its tough to figure out where the party stands if they try hard to stand nowhere (and everywhere).

    Its been my impression that democratic politicians are salesmen, and as such you don't really know what they really think (it isn't even necessary that they think at all). Roosevelt's strategy of buying votes by selling the concept of Social Security was truly brilliant. It seems its only recently that the Democratic party has gone back to that (though instead of tax your kids and give to you, its tax the rich and give to you). Trouble is, its starting to rain and the paint is coming off that used car and people are no longer buying it. You can't sell a kid social security if he doesn't think its going to be around in 40 years when he retires. And they want to do it again with national healthcare?!?

    The Democratic party needs to get back to its roots in classical liberalism: freedom, both political and economic. What they are selling now smells like socialism.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2004
  5. Dec 15, 2004 #4
    In '64, the Democratic candidate for President (Johnson) beat the Republican challenger (Goldwater) in the electoral college 486 to 52.

    In '68, the Republican candidate for President (Nixon) beat the Democratic candidate for President (Humphrey) in the electoral college 301 to 191, and the Independent candidate (Wallace) got 46 electoral college votes.

    Hell, Clinton beat Bush 370 to 168 in '92, and then 2 years later the Democrats lost their decades-old majority in the congress.

    Point being: things can change quick.
  6. Dec 15, 2004 #5


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    That is a little misleading considering the 3rd party effect on Clinton and the fact that its a lot tougher to take control of congress (no term limits).
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2004
  7. Dec 15, 2004 #6
    Expand on that a bit? I'm not sure I understand exactly what you're getting at.

    Though even if you disregard my example of Clinton winning the Presidency then Republicans winning the congress, you can't deny that party affiliation can change quickly. Just look at the article in the first post in this thread, in October, the Democrats had a 37% to 34% edge over Republicans, now Republicans have a 37% to 32% edge. If you accept these numbers, millions of people changed from Democrats to Republicans within 2 months.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2004
  8. Dec 15, 2004 #7


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    I think your point is largely correct, that especially considering the edge is so small, the way people label themselves can shift quickly - but your example of Clinton in 1992 is flawed since Clinton only took 43% of the popular vote and won largely due to a 3rd party candidate taking votes from Republicans (a la the 2000 Nader situation) - a misleading landslide.

    Regardless of how people label themselves, the erosion of the Democratic party's power in government has been relatively steady since 1980.
  9. Dec 15, 2004 #8
    That doesn't necessarily have to be the case as I see this. It could have been that large numbers of undecideds and independants started calling themselves Republicans. That more people in the "middle" are either moving to the right or just calling themselves Repuublicans --- all while the Republican Party has mmoved to the right itself. With that - I agree with your primary point that 'it can change quickly' - whether Demos to Republicans or whatever --

    One other point - the Demos probably need to rethink themselves and stop the excuse making and the talk about "pendulums" swinging back with time. There's nothing written in the sky that says politics and pendulums operate by the same logic. And all the name calling - shees - that worked -
  10. Dec 15, 2004 #9


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    I've felt, lately, as if there's been a huge shift in what opinions are now acceptable to have... as if it's a huge reactionary measure after years of political correctness, affirmative action, and the general social pressure towards thinking that anyone should be able to do anything they want, and you should be happy about it! That might have a correlation to this shift in political affiliation.
  11. Dec 15, 2004 #10


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    And you all think 9/11 has nothing to do with this shift ??? :confused:
  12. Dec 15, 2004 #11
    Ok, I see your point.

    Gotta give it up to the neocon movement, they know how to electioneer.

    Republicans have essentially won, they're the governing party now. Essentially everything that goes right will be because of Republicans, and essentially everything that goes wrong will be beacause of Republicans. While some like Sean Hannity may try, Conservatives really can't scapegoat liberals anymore, they're in control, they (should) have to take responsibility for everything the federal government does, including when it messes up.

    Democrats are now the opposition party.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2004
  13. Dec 15, 2004 #12
    bang on the buck as to why was the GOP base so energized. It's clear as a bell, at least to me; the sight of Michael Moore sitting in the VIP box at the Dem's convention. His blatant, fanatical obviously over the line propaganda did much more to sway fair minded middle Americans than even he might have imagined, only, not in the direction he had hoped. The Dems can't put up reasonable folks like Ford from Tennessee and Obama from Illinois and then pose them with a Michael Moore front and center in the VIP box and not expect middle America to just go "Ew; what the Hell is all THAT about...?"

    So, thank you, Michael Moore, and thank you, Terry McCauliffe or whoever elese made that genius decision. Apparently, America isn't ready for really bad Soviet style street theatre yet.

    MoveOn,org? Time to move on, I guess. Last one out, turn out the lights.

    And, Michael, would the first clue in your campagin be that even you named it the 'get out the slackers vote' tour or whatnot?

    Barnicle got it right; the Dems got to figure out if they are party of the JFK/loyal left or the whacky extreme left. They can't be a party of power in the USA by embracing an ideology that says 'the USA is evil, the USA is stupid, the USA is the cause of all the evil in the world.'

    Which, fully explains Katrina Von Klueless' dour attitude post election. SHe's a smart ex Princeton chick, sees the handwriting on the wall. It's back to fringeville for the extreme whacky left. When next we see the Democratic party seriously contending for power in the USA, it will be represented by serious folks like Ford and Obama and politics in America will rise accordingly.

    That is not say that Kerry was not serious in the same vein; au contraire. But, the Dems made the mistake of courting too heavily the fringe whackos on the same stage. Look, they are called 'fringe whackos' for a reason. That is because, they are on the fringe, and are whackos, and hanging with them a little too closely might be alot of fun, but it's sure as Hell not going to get you elected in the USA.

    So, what do we hear on Charlie Rose? Fears that, if Kerry wins, the extreme right will wax violent.

    You mean, like the E.L.F.?

    Hey, at the extreme fringes of society, there are all kinds of violent whackos. Always going to be the case. But, let's keep them there, let's not court their violent nonsense and hateful gibberish, like the Dems just did in this past election.

    Well, we'll see. But if politics in this country ever comes down to a heated battle between the 'PETA' crowd and the 'NRA' crowd, I can see why the left would be concerned.

    Speaking of which, I love South Park, by the way, in spite of its foulness. They skewer all kinds extremism, regardless of political bent, and in doing so, deflate the hot air out of it and expose it for what it is; hilarious fodder for comedy.

    Did anyone see the PETA, P Diddy Vote or Die,Giant Douch Bag vs. Turd Sandwich for school mascot election episode? I howled.
  14. Dec 15, 2004 #13

    I think that 9/11 and the events that have happened since were potentially a large cause for this shift.
  15. Dec 15, 2004 #14
    The Republicans are using classic strategy (or in Bush-speak, strategery) of shifting topics and shaping national agenda so that it is conducive to their goals. Back in the 1988 election, Reagan won partially because of his popularity and also because of Republican strategy.

    In the 1988 election, more people were swayed to vote for the Republicans because of the party's stance on flag burning. This of course happened despite the rising national debt and the faulty economic theory that bears his name. The Republican party has always been successful in converting votes due to moral issues.

    Just look at this past election, what was the Republican party's main agenda? Family values (a largely valence issue). This of course shifted people's opinion and they voted the moral line moreso than other issues such as foreign policy (Iraq) or the economy. How does the Republican party do this? If they keep talking about it, soon the media will catch on. The media will then display it to everyone nationwide, and it becomes an issue. That is exactly how this Gay Marriage fiasco started.

    What really suprises me are the fiscally-poor WASPs who continue to vote Republican when the real agenda that the party has is to promote big-business and give tax breaks to the wealthy, of which they will see little benefit compared to other programs (such as social welfare). Again, these people are targeted by the Republican party so that they vote on their morality compared to anything else.
  16. Dec 15, 2004 #15


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    are you seriously suggesting that Dukakis lost because he wasn't against flag burning?...lol.

    Speaking of Dukakis, it's funny that throughout this election I kept seeing similarities between the two candidates (kerry/dukakis)..maybe THAT's why Kerry lost and everything else is just post posturing!
  17. Dec 16, 2004 #16


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    I think it's a combination of things. 9/11 is certainly a big factor that has kind of brought a lot of little things together.

    The majority of Americans are somewhat religous. That doesn't mean they totally identify with religous zealots on the 'wacky extreme right'. That does mean that many ACLU law suits over separation of church and state are seen as being part of the 'wacky extreme left'. Eventually you reach a point where the 'wacky extreme left' is scarier than the religous zealots on the 'wacky extreme right'.

    Whether that is just a reaction to the pendulum having swung too far in one direction or whether it's a long term reaction is hard to say. A long time ago, some anthropologists used to break cultures up into somewhere around 14 key building blocks. A civilization had to have something to fill each of those building blocks in order to be a culture - the key to the theory being that a civilization that didn't fill those blocks wouldn't stick around long enough to be worth studying. Religion is one of those building blocks, even though the traditional idea of church doesn't necessarily have to be the thing that fills that block - in other words, you could say that some system of moral peer pressure, meeting spiritual needs, etc is needed instead of a 'church'. What fills that block in the US and Europe today?

    Most of the other issues are temporary. Protecting against terrorism will become a mainstream issue (instead of a crisis issue) and the popular balance between security and personal liberties will depend on short term events (the fact that initial reaction tilted way towards the security side is a given and the natural and safe reaction - a slow slide back towards a more even balance is sure to happen). The war in Iraq won't go on forever (in fact, if it goes too long, there will be a political swing back to the left).

    Economic issues are in total disarray right now. Republican spending and deficits are as bad as the worst of the Democratic spending. Who knows which side people will identify with. Traditionally, people have just looked at their own personal economic situation. If things are going good, the party in control must be doing pretty good. If I'm unemployed, vote for the other party - maybe they'll bring a better economy.

    No matter what, unless political parties are completely unresponsive to the public, you wind up with a large chunk of 'middle of the road' voters (however that definition changes from time to time) who can easily flip from one party to the other.
  18. Dec 16, 2004 #17


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    This is the biggest problem I see with politics today: economics only exists in the pocket of the individual voter.
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