Sunday, July 24, 2011

PEW: GOP Makes Big Gains among White Voters

As the country enters into the 2012 presidential election cycle, the electorate's white voters have shifted significantly toward the Republican Party since Obama won office nearly three years ago, according to a Pew Research Center survey released on Friday. In particular, the Democrats hold a much narrower edge than they did in 2008, particularly when the partisan leanings of independents are taken into account.

Fifty-two percent of white voters identified themselves as Republicans compared with 39 percent who called themselves Democrats in the survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. The rest said they were independents.

In 2008, 46 percent of white voters said they were Republicans versus 44 percent for Democrats. The survey also showed Republicans losing ground among Hispanic voters and picking up slightly among black voters since 2008.

Among all racial and ethnic groups, 43 percent of Americans described themselves as Republicans and 47 percent as Democrats in the survey, compared to 39 percent who labeled themselves Republicans and 51 percent as Democrats in 2008.

"There was a large enthusiasm gap in 2010, with Republicans far more enthusiastic and interested in the election ... A lot of what we're seeing in the data is a continuation of where we were in 2010," according to Leah Christian, a senior researcher at the Pew Center who worked on the report.

Republicans lost ground among Hispanics. The poll found that 22 percent of Hispanics called themselves Republicans, compared to 28 percent in 2008.

Black voter identification with the Republicans has edged up by 2 percentage points to 8 percent since 2008, the poll found. Eighty-six percent of black voters called themselves Democrats, compared to 88 percent in 2008.

Young voters played a huge part in Obama's 2008 victory.

But the party's 7 percentage point advantage among whites under age 30 in 2008 has flipped to an 11 percentage point Republican advantage now, the poll found.

There was a big shift among whites making less then $30,000 per year, a group Christian said had favored Hillary Clinton early in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary fight, and so might be less strongly in favor of Obama.

In 2008, 37 percent of them said they were Republicans, and 52 percent identified as Democrats. Those numbers now are 47 percent Republican and 43 percent Democratic.

The report was based on a compilation of 223 surveys and about 300,000 interviews among registered voters conducted by the Pew Research Center from January 1990 to June 2011.

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that nearly two-thirds of registered voters say they plan to "look around" to vote for someone other than their current member of Congress in 2012. Just 32 percent say they're content to vote for their incumbent.

This is the highest level of dissatisfaction with Washington ever seen in Post/ABC polling, which dates back to 1989, notes the Post's Chris Cillizza. A striking 80 percent of all respondents said they were either dissatisfied or angry about the way Washington works.

This discontent -- although spread almost evenly across party lines -- is more likely to more negatively impact Republicans, says Cillizza, simply because they are the majority party in the House.

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