Poll: Republicans making gains - BUT NOT IN OHIO

Poll: Republican Party has made strong gains since 2000 election
November 05, 2003

WASHINGTON - A year before Election Day, the number of people who identify themselves as Republicans is significantly larger than when George W. Bush was elected president, particularly in several pivotal states such as Florida and Michigan that often prove decisive in close contests.

The gains bring the Republicans to national parity with Democrats, at least momentarily ending decades of disadvantage in voters' party identification that started when Franklin Roosevelt built the modern Democratic coalition in the 1930s and that endured with only occasional breaks ever since.

The result is a country split almost evenly between the parties, with 34 percent of registered voters calling themselves Democrats, 33 percent calling themselves Republicans and 33 percent calling themselves independent or some other party, according to an in-depth survey by the Pew Research Center For The People & The Press, a nonpartisan research group.

In 15 swing states, which hold no consistent historic allegiance to either party and are up for grabs in every presidential election, the two major parties are split virtually evenly, with 33 percent overall for Republicans and 34 percent for Democrats. At the outset of the 2000 campaign, the Grand Old Party was at a 6-point disadvantage in the bloc. Since then Republicans have gained in 13 of the 15 states.

Among the swing states, Republicans now lead in partisan identification in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Tennessee, Florida and Wisconsin. They gained but still trail in Arkansas, West Virginia, New Mexico, Louisiana, Missouri and Oregon. They are now tied with Democrats in Pennsylvania.

They lost ground in two swing states, New Hampshire and Ohio. [NO candidate has ever become President without winning Ohio].

Click on the "Read More..." link below for more.

As a consequence of this dramatic shift, President Bush enters the campaign year with a stronger underlying partisan base than he or other Republicans have enjoyed in recent decades. [BUT NOT IN OHIO]

"The Republican Party's gains in affiliation, if sustained into next year's general elections, may produce small but nevertheless important changes in the terrain on which the elections will be fought," Pew director Andy Kohut said.

The Pew survey might help explain recent election victories for the Republicans and confirm other polls that paint a dark future for the Democrats.

Republicans won governors' elections Tuesday in Kentucky and Mississippi, a year after they scored historic gains in the House of Representatives and Senate, a rare increase of seats for a president's party in his first midterm elections. Also, Democratic pollster Mark Penn this summer released a survey that he said found Democrats in their weakest position since FDR.

"This is a very different political climate than it was even a year ago," Kohut said.

Republicans gained everywhere, geographically and demographically.

Republicans also gained among dependably Republican states such as South Carolina and Texas - known as Red States in the 2000 election. They now enjoy a solid edge of 37-32 percent in their base states, up from their narrow 34-33 percent advantage in 2000.

They gained slightly even among reliably Democratic states, called Blue States in the last presidential election. In California, they went from a 10-point disadvantage to a 5-point disadvantage. In Washington state, they went from a 5-point disadvantage to a 1-point edge.

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"The Red states look redder and the blue states look paler," said Karlyn Bowman, a scholar of public opinion at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington research center. [BUT NOT IN OHIO]

One key reason the historic Democratic edge is eroding is a shift in demographics, Bowman noted.

The generation that came of age during the Great Depression and World War II, revered Roosevelt and supported a growing, activist government is dying out. Taking its place is a young generation born during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, less wed to the government as benefactor and more inclined toward Republicans.

The Ohio GOP has a problem, and this poll proves it. Ohio's Republican leadership blames a "perfect storm" created by weak economy, increased federally-mandated spending, etc.

But Ohio is far from the only state with these sorts of challenges. What about Tennessee, which has also had it's share of budget problems in recent years, and still has no state income tax? Or Florida (also no state income tax)?
What about Michigan, where a newly-elected Democrat Governor passed spending cuts instead of tax increases? Incidentally, all of these states DO have concealed carry reform laws, and according to this poll, all of them have more and more people who identify themselves with the Republican party.

Increasingly and under the "leadership" of Bob Taft, Republicans are viewed negatively by many Ohioans because because, to coin a phrase from President Bush, they've had their chance, and they have not led here in Ohio.

Playing the "blame" or "I'm the victim" game hasn't worked. Ohioans hired Bob Taft in 1998 upon a promise that he'd support concealed carry reform. He lied, and is still hiding behind a few unelected state trooper bureaucrats. In 2002, Ohioans re-hired Bob Taft to find solutions to our budget mess - and they did it within the confines of a promise that he wouldn't raise taxes without asking. He lied, and is hiding behind his 'perfect storm'.

On election day, Bob Taft's Issue 1 failed by about 45,000 votes. OFCC has collected over 50,000 signatures on petitions in support of CCW. Prior to the election, there was a LOT of talk within conservative grassroots groups about voting NO on Issue 1 simply to send Taft a message.

The spin we now hear from Taft's office that this wasn't a referendum on him, but instead the problem was simply that people were ignorant about what Issue 1 was intended to do. Taft and the GOP will make yet another mistake not to give the voters more credit than that. Conservatives didn't vote "no" on Issue 1 because they were clueless. Many indicated they were voting no either because they thought the idea was too much of a gamble, or that they decided to vote against it as soon as they saw Taft was for it.

Getting defeated by his own party's conservative voter base was indeed a referendum on Bob Taft. And the longer the Ohio Republican party fails to acknowledge what is going on among the conservative voter base in this state, the tougher things are going to be for them before it's over.

Related Stories:
Ohio Republican voters fire shot (that should be) heard 'round the nation

Ohio Poll: Taft disapproval numbers at 46%

Senator: Republi-can'ts 'run like Reagan, govern like Taft'

Senator: ''Solidarity among Republicans'' destroying your right to self-defense

Ohio Republican Party Platform Set Adrift

Letter to the Editor: State’s Republicans befuddling Democrats

Op Ed: Taft’s troubles aren’t unlike those faced by Gray Davis

ONN: Ohioans Question CA Governor Recall

New Report Shows Ohio Violent Crimes Could Have Been Prevented


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