Rasmussen shows partisan split closest in five years

posted at 5:15 pm on September 1, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Remember this poll the next time CBS reweights its sample to give Democrats a seven-point edge while declaring a slight bump upward in Barack Obama’s popularity, or when the WaPo poll sample improves to a D+7.  Gallup had previously shown the partisan split narrowing in the electorate, and today Rasmussen has it at a razor-thin 1.2 points in favor of Democrats:

The number of Republicans in the United States grew in August while the number of Democrats slipped a bit and the gap between the parties fell to the smallest advantage for Democrats in five years.

In August, 35.0% of American Adults identified themselves as Democrats. That’s down nearly half a percentage point  from a month ago and is the smallest percentage of Democrats ever recorded in nearly eight years of monthly tracking.

At the same time, the number of Republicans grew in August to 33.8%. That’s up two full percentage points from the month before and the largest number of Republicans recorded in 2010.

As has been the case in every month over the past eight years of tracking, there are more Democrats than Republicans in the nation. The gap is currently 1.2 percentage points. That’s the closest the Republicans have been to parity in more than five years, since July 2005.

It’s also the smallest gap between the parties heading into any of the recent campaign seasons. In August 2004, the Democrats had a 2.6 percentage point advantage. In August 2006, they enjoyed a 5.4 percentage point advantage. In August 2008, the gap was 5.7 percentage points.

In less than two years, Democrats have lost seven points in the general population, while Republicans have gained just one.  Independents haven’t done much better, dropping two points to 31%.  Although the GOP peaked at 37.4% just before the 2004 election, the current figure is at the top of the range otherwise, between 31-34% over the last several years.

Even though Democrats still lead — barely — Moe Lane says this spells disaster for the party of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi:

[E]xperience shows that a poll that samples 1,000 adults will have a result that is significantly different than one that samples 1,000 likely voters*.  The trick is determining what a ‘likely voter’ is, which is why many pollsters at least try to work with the more quantifiable ‘registered voters:’ it doesn’t give you as good results, but it at least screens out the people who can’t vote.  It’s also why pollsters try to find out who is enthusiastic about voting, and who isn’t.  But that’s only half of the problem; the other half is determining whether or not the current partisan mix of voters has shifted since the last benchmark.  That benchmark is usually an election; it’s a truism that, generally, Republicans vote for Republicans and Democrats vote for Democrats.  So pollsters look at reliable exit polls, and they look at election results, and every so often they do new partisan identification polls.

And that’s what makes this such a problematic poll of Rasmussen’s for the Democrats.  As the pollster noted, historically speaking:

In August 2004, the Democrats had a 2.6 percentage point advantage. In August 2006, they enjoyed a 5.4 percentage point advantage. In August 2008, the gap was 5.7 percentage points. See the History of Party Trends from January 2004 to the present.

…and if you look at the results for those years, you’ll notice that they trended between August and November in all three years towards the party that ended up ‘winning’ those particular election cycles.  Which implies that the breakdown is going to be even worse for the Democrats in November.  It might even be close to equal.

In other words, direction matters as much as static data points.  The figures have been narrowing over the past year, inexorably drawing closer to each other.  Think of it in Ghostbuster terms: the closer the streams come to crossing, the closer Democrats come to political annihilation, and the closer it comes, the more rapidly it narrows.

There are two other factors to consider, too.  Republicans tend to outperform the partisan split in all elections, mainly because they tend to turn out slightly more to vote.  That’s even more true in midterm elections, which in normal cycles tend to engage the imagination of voters less.  In this midterm cycle, the enthusiasm gap at Gallup has surpassed twenty points between the parties, which means that even if Democrats have a registration advantage of 1.2%, the practical effect is to trail by several points in a generic Congressional contest — which we are also seeing in surveys that measure such questions.

Of course, we don’t elect generic Congresses, either, and individual candidates and campaigns matter.  But the momentum is building for Republicans, and Moe is almost certainly right that the effective partisan split will favor Republicans by the time of the election.


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Moe’s word of the year is DOOM….

INC on September 1, 2010 at 5:24 PM

They should do some kind of longitudinal polling that tracks political preferences the way Nielsen tracks TV ratings. Or maybe they already do, idk.

RightOFLeft on September 1, 2010 at 5:25 PM

we fiddna have us a bambalanche!!!!

RealMc on September 1, 2010 at 5:26 PM

I don’t know that I even remember a time when Republicans outnumbered Democrats in one of these polls. If I remember correctly only 25% of the country called themselves Republicans when Reagan carried 49 states. People may not call themselves Republicans, but they will vote for them.

Terrye on September 1, 2010 at 5:28 PM

and Moe is almost certainly right that the effective partisan split will favor Republicans by the time of the election.

He is right. No “almost certainly” about it.

Missy on September 1, 2010 at 5:29 PM

Terrye, thats because there are more conservatives than there are republicans

Bevan on September 1, 2010 at 5:32 PM

These statistical analysis are amazing when weighed against the Bell curve. The most significant statistic I will never forget. If you laid everyone that ever fell asleep in church end to end————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————they would be more comfortable.

fourdeucer on September 1, 2010 at 5:38 PM

the closer the streams come to crossing, the closer Democrats come to political annihilation, and the closer it comes, the more rapidly it narrows.
======================================

Can’t wait till Chrissy,aka,”Tingles”,has his Tinglation
Stream crossing!!

Once the streams collide,it’ll start a chain-reaction,
of Hopey’s star,in which,Obama’s Black Hole will start
sucking in Democrats,in which even Political Light can
not escape!!

Me thinks,Team Liberal is already,near the Event Horizon!!
(snark).

canopfor on September 1, 2010 at 5:38 PM

Crimson tide baby!

abobo on September 1, 2010 at 5:39 PM

Here in Los Angeles I have a hard time finding fellow conservatives, who aren’t already friends, because we don’t talk politics or religion much. The only thing that gives me any indication as to a trend is bumper stickers. Lately there are lots of anti Zero stickers. Yesterday I saw one that said “Don’t tell Obama what comes after a trillion”… Once in a while I still see the Obama Biden ones. I get curious to see who’s driving and it’s middle age cleaned up hippy types or black women…

CCRWM on September 1, 2010 at 5:40 PM

I see red people

faraway on September 1, 2010 at 5:40 PM

Titanic sails,

Departure is November 1st,at 2100 hr. sharp!

Date with iceberg,November 2nd at 2300Hr.sharp.

Note: BYOLB*!

*Bring Your Own Life Boat!

canopfor on September 1, 2010 at 5:43 PM

I see red people

faraway on September 1, 2010 at 5:40 PM

faraway:I’d rather be dead,than Red!!:)

canopfor on September 1, 2010 at 5:44 PM

The 1994 wave

The 2010 Tsunami

portlandon on September 1, 2010 at 5:45 PM

Lt.G. Tom McInerney Files sworn affidavit supporting LTC Terrence Lakin’s case

Washington, D.C., August 31, 2010.

Retired Air Force Lieutenant General McInerney has supplied an affidavit in support of Army Lieutenant Colonel Terrence Lakin, who faces trial on October 13-15. The retired Air Force three-star is the highest ranking officer yet to lend public support to LTC Lakin. His affidavit acknowledges widespread concerns over the President’s Constitutional eligibility and demands the President release his birth records or the court authorize discovery.

McInerney’s sworn affidavit was filed in Court-Martial in support of Lakin’s motions for subpoenas for all of the president’s school records, and for a deposition of the custodian of Obama’s birth records in the possession of the State of Hawaii.

JUDGE TO RULE THURSDAY ON DEFENSE REQUEST FOR DEPOSITION OF HAWAIIAN OFFICIALS AND FOR WRITTEN DISCOVERY OF ALL OF PRESIDENT’S SCHOOL AND COLLEGE RECORDS

Tav on September 1, 2010 at 5:49 PM

Comrade Zero has created a Conservative Renaissance in America!

Cicero43 on September 1, 2010 at 5:53 PM

McInerney’s affidavit

Obama unleashes lawyers instead of releasing birth certificate.

Tav on September 1, 2010 at 5:55 PM

I like it better when they use a +7 or better during polls. Its much more fun to see the Repub winning for 5% and then seeing they overpolled Dems, much more demoralizing to them.

Rbastid on September 1, 2010 at 6:04 PM

1) Sssshhhhhh – don’t give our fellow conservatives and excuse to stay home and don’t excite the liberals to panic even more.

2) Obama was born in Hawaii, but the birth certificate names someone else as the father.

barnone on September 1, 2010 at 6:11 PM

“Independents haven’t done much better, dropping two points to 31%.”

What is wrong with those people? Are they stupid? Are they perhaps just secretive types that don’t want anyone to know their politics?

slickwillie2001 on September 1, 2010 at 6:14 PM

It really doesn’t matter who identifies themselves as “Democrats” … most of the Democrats I know are voting Republican now because they don’t recognize their party anymore.

Socialists are still FIRMLY behind the Democratic “establishment” though.

HondaV65 on September 1, 2010 at 6:27 PM

Obama unleashes lawyers instead of releasing birth certificate.

Tav on September 1, 2010 at 5:55 PM

You’re a birther too?

Sigh.

HondaV65 on September 1, 2010 at 6:28 PM

I’ve never believed these polls, as they most often produce results which run counter to my everyday experience living in both blue states and red states.

People lie to pollsters. Democrats lie to themselves. In between elections, Republicans and Independents don’t care about polls.

And MSM dreams up a result and selects, invents, and/or shapes the data to fit it.

The election is the only poll which matters, so it would be far more productive to take action to protect the election process than to try to look good in the next poll.

landlines on September 1, 2010 at 6:28 PM

That’s a mighty purdy graphic, but I think we need to pretend that it’s 50/50 red/blue. Please don’t count dem’ chickens yet!

Chewy the Lab on September 1, 2010 at 6:34 PM

Even though Democrats still lead — barely — Moe Lane says this spells disaster for the party of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi:

Redstate? They’re almost as intolerant of dissent as LGF.

Tav on September 1, 2010 at 6:34 PM

You’re a birther too?

Sigh.

HondaV65 on September 1, 2010 at 6:28 PM

I am a free thinker. You are a sheeple.

Tav on September 1, 2010 at 6:36 PM

landlines on September 1, 2010 at 6:28 PM

…and, polling is increasingly dicey as more and more people have ditched their land lines…I sooooo do NOT miss those robo calls….but I did enjoy messin’ with the pollsters heads when we had a LL, back pre-20008.

Chewy the Lab on September 1, 2010 at 6:37 PM

2008…sorry broken hand means hunt n’ peck typing.

Chewy the Lab on September 1, 2010 at 6:38 PM

The GOP should do what Beck did yesterday in a commercial.

He showed the really patriotic nice people against the left’s slander… and said, “Who is most like you.”

I think a lot more people would be Republicans or at least Tea Party if you show them the choices and ask them to choose sides right now. You don’t even have to try to get pretty raunchy accusations coming from Democrats about really nice normal Americans.

Hmmm I think that may be the victim card. Well it’s about time to play it.

petunia on September 1, 2010 at 7:06 PM

Comrade Zero has created a Conservative Renaissance in America!

Cicero43 on September 1, 2010 at 5:53 PM

Yeah unless the Congress blows it next year and make Obama look good enough for another 4 years.

I really don’t think our country would survive. I’m so afraid all these Independents will just vote for a split government in 2012.

I used to be an Independent I know how they think. A pox on both houses… let’s curb them in. I think we need far more than split government to fix things!

petunia on September 1, 2010 at 7:11 PM

another thing to consider beyond how close the % s are of those saying they are DEMs and those saying they are REPs. A vast majority of unaffiliated voters are Conservatives. I know many conservatives who no longer identify them selves as Republicnas. However, if the Republican nominee is a Conservative, they’ll vote for them. Add the #s of independent voters into this equation and it could be an epic election.

Red State State of Mind on September 1, 2010 at 7:44 PM

Thank you Rassmusam for an insightful survey and posting the results. The results are showing a bloodless revolutionary shift. In the past the right were quite because they trusted the electrol college system our forefathers established to assure that the election process.

However, that balance was being eroded via legal challenges from the left. Therefore, the right made the right decision to rebel against those who were abusing their right in the voting processes.

This group will not stop until the process rightfully represents the will of the people.

MSGTAS on September 2, 2010 at 11:02 AM