It's a bad year to be a republican. So, as a new Rassmussen poll shows, a lot of republicans are bailing the party:
The number of Americans calling themselves Republican has fallen to its lowest level in more than two-and-a-half years. Just 31.9% of American adults now say they're affiliated with the GOP. That's down from 37.2% in October 2004 and 34.5% at the beginning of 2006. These results come from Rasmussen Reports tracking surveys of 15,000 voters per month and have a margin of sampling error smaller than a percentage point.
The number of Democrats has grown slightly, from 36.1% at the beginning of the year to 37.3% now.
Those who claim to be unaffiliated have increased to 30.8% this month. That's the highest total recorded since Rasmussen Reports began releasing this data in January 2004.
Add it all together and the Democrats have their biggest net advantage -- more than five percentage points -- since January 2004. In the first month of 2006, the Democrats' advantage was just 1.6 percentage points. Last month, 32.8% of adults said they were Republicans and 36.8% identified themselves as Democrats.
Reuters reports that Democrats are 'on a roll':
Democrats enter the fall campaign with a clear edge in the high-stakes fight for control of the U.S. Congress, riding a wave of momentum that has them positioned to retake the U.S. House of Representatives and make significant gains in the Senate.
President George W. Bush's low approval ratings and public dissatisfaction with the Iraq war, gas prices and the country's direction threaten Republican leadership in Congress and put Democrats within reach of victory on November 7, analysts said.
"I don't think the question any longer is can Democrats win control of Congress, it's can Republicans do anything to stop it?" said Amy Walter, House analyst for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report newsletter. "All the factors and issues are pushing so strongly against Republicans."
All 435 House seats, 34 of 100 Senate seats and 36 governorships are at stake in November's election, with Democrats needing to pick up 15 House seats and six Senate seats to reclaim majorities.
Strategists in both parties say the glum public mood has created a strong desire for change and given Democrats a big advantage at the traditional opening of the campaign season on Monday's Labor Day holiday.
"It's too late to fix the national mood -- it's not going to be fixed," said Republican pollster Frank Luntz. "The major issues are not playing well for Republicans this year, and Republicans are not playing well with America this year."
History is also with Democrats -- the party holding the White House traditionally loses seats in a president's sixth year. The modern exception was 1998, when public unhappiness over the Republican-led impeachment of President Bill Clinton helped Democrats gain five House seats.
According to the Reuters article, "Democrats are in the strongest position in the House, analysts said, where nearly every endangered incumbent is Republican. Independent analyst Stuart Rothenberg projects a Democratic gain of 15-20 seats, while the Cook Report lists 17 House seats as toss-ups -- all Republican."
The New York Times is reporting that Karl Rove's influence is declining. "Mr. Rove remains a dominant adviser to President Bush, administration officials say," the article reports, "But outside the White House, as Mr. Bush's popularity has waned, and as questions have arisen among Republicans about the White House's political acumen, the party's candidates are going their own way in this difficult election season far more than they have in any other campaign Mr. Rove has overseen."
It's not all that surprising, really. Rove's strategy -- which has become infamous -- is to attack opponents' strengths, not their weaknesses. But democrats' strength going into this election is that they aren't republicans -- good luck making hay with that. The republican White House, House, and Senate have seriously screwed up just about everything and, because they've marginalized the democrats for the past six years, they have absolutely no one but themselves to blame.
This election cycle is the democrats' to lose. A FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll asked, "Thinking ahead to this November's elections, if the congressional election were held today, would you vote for the Democratic candidate in your district or the Republican candidate in your district?" 32% answered republican, 48% said democrat, and 21% said they were unsure.
Think about those numbers -- from GOP friendly FOX News, yet. If republicans convinced every undecided voter to vote GOP, they'd still only be 5 points ahead. A Newsweek poll gives even worse news for republicans -- if they got all the undecideds in that poll, they'd be tied.
November can't come soon enough...
Technorati tags: politics; elections; polls; I'd hate to be a republican in November