Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Democrats Lure Independents to Make Gains in Party ID In Minnesota and Upper Midwest; GOP Base Solid

Bookmark and Share

Although President George W. Bush lost Minnesota in the 2004 presidential election and Republicans lost 14 seats in the Minnesota House from the 2002 election cycle, the GOP still held a slim advantage in Party ID in Minnesota that year, as well as across the Upper Midwest. That advantage has remained elusive ever since.

A Smart Politics analysis of 198 public opinion polls conducted across Minnesota (62 polls), Iowa (67), and Wisconsin (69) since 2004 (aggregated yearly within each state), finds the Democratic Party's gains in Party ID from 2004 through 2008 to have been substantial – increasing 10.9 points in Iowa, 10.3 points in Minnesota, and 7.7 points in Wisconsin.

Most of these gains, however, have not occurred at the expense of the GOP base, but rather by steadily peeling off previously self-identified independents.

In Minnesota, the percentage of residents identifying themselves as Democrats has increased each year: from 31.0 percent in 2004, to 31.4 percent in 2005, to 35.1 percent in 2006, to 36.8 percent in 2007, to 37.3 percent in 2008, to 44.0 percent in a new SurveyUSA poll released in January 2009. During these five years, while Democrats have gained 13 points in the Party ID battle, the GOP has lost only 3 points – from 32 percent in 2004 to 29 percent in SurveyUSA’s January poll.

In Iowa, the story is quite similar: 31.7 percent of residents identified themselves as Republicans in 2004, dipping slightly to 29.9 percent in 2005, but then holding steady at 29.6 percent in 2006, 29.5 percent in 2007, 29.8 percent in 2008, and 29.0 percent in SurveyUSA’s January 2009 poll. The percent of Iowans identifying themselves as Democrats, however, rose substantially: from 31.0 percent in 2004, to 31.4 percent in 2005, to 35.1 percent in 2006, to 36.8 percent in 2007, to 37.3 percent in 2008, to 44.0 percent in the January SurveyUSA poll.

In Wisconsin, the general story is the same as its neighbors: Democratic Party ID was at 30.6 percent in 2004 and increased in three of the next four years, to 35.6 percent in 2008. Republican Party ID fell by only half that amount – from 31.3 percent in 2004 to 28.6 percent in 2008.

Across the region, Republicans have seen a slight 0.7 percent Party ID advantage in 2004 fall to an 11.5 percent deficit as of January 2009:

Republican Partisan ID Advantage Across the Upper Midwest, 2004-2009

Year
Iowa
Minnesota
Wisconsin
Region
2009*
-11.0
-15.0
-20.0
-11.5
2008
-10.1
-9.3
-7.0
-5.3
2007
-6.6
-10.0
-8.6
-6.1
2006
-4.8
-5.0
-5.8
-3.5
2005
-1.7
-0.8
-1.3
-0.6
2004
0.8
1.0
0.7
0.7
* Only one poll conducted in each state in 2009. Note: Table indicates difference in Republican and Democratic Party ID data aggregated yearly by state, then by region. Data compiled by Smart Politics from 198 public opinion surveys.

Across the nation, Democrats have not only gained more than 50 seats in the U.S. House since 2004, but also 13 seats to their U.S. Senate caucus. Democrats also now control 28 of the 50 governorships across the country, and have majorities in 28 state senates and 32 state houses (plus drawing ties in Montana and Tennessee – two states with Democratic governors).

In light of these dismal numbers, the decision as to whether or not the GOP needs to solidify its base or reach out to new groups and bring independents back into the mix is the great debate currently being held within the party, and it is the primary challenge facing Chairman Michael Steele, the new head of the Republican National Committee.

In Minnesota and the Upper Midwest, however, the solution seems simple enough: the Republican slide appears not to be due to an erosion of the Party's base, but an exodus among independents to the Democratic Party. The Republican Party must therefore become more attractive to these moderates if it wishes to cut into this advantage in Party ID by the Democrats.

Previous post: Eric Holder Fallout: How Do Minnesotans Feel About Race Relations in America?
Next post: Despite Democratic Shift, Minnesotans Are No More Liberal Than Four Years Ago

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Which States Have the Longest and Shortest Election Day Voting Hours?

Residents in some North Dakota towns have less than half as many hours to cast their ballots as those in New York State.

Political Crumbs

No 100-Year Curse for Roberts

Defeating his Tea Party primary challenger Milton Wolf with just 48.1 percent of the vote, Pat Roberts narrowly escaped becoming the first elected U.S. Senator from Kansas to lose a renomination bid in 100 years. The last - and so far only - elected U.S. Senator to lose a Kansas primary was one-term Republican Joseph Bristow in 1914. Bristow was defeated by former U.S. Senator Charles Curtis who went on to win three terms before becoming Herbert Hoover's running mate in 1928. Only one other U.S. Senator from the Sunflower State has lost a primary since the passage of the 17th Amendment: Sheila Frahm in 1996. Frahm was appointed to fill Bob Dole's seat earlier that year and finished 13.2 points behind Sam Brownback in the three-candidate primary field. Overall, incumbent senators from Kansas have won 29 times against two defeats in the direct vote era. (Curtis also lost a primary in 1912 to Walter Stubbs, one year before the nation moved to direct elections).


The Second Time Around

Former Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez became the seventh major party or second place gubernatorial candidate in Colorado to get a second chance at the office when he narrowly won his party's nomination last month. Two of the previous six candidates were successful. Democrat Alva Adams lost his first gubernatorial bid to Benjamin Eaton in 1884, but was victorious two years later against William Meyer. Democrat Charles Johnson placed third in 1894 behind Republican Albert McIntyre and Populist incumbent Governor David Waite but returned as the Fusion (Democrat/Populist) nominee in 1898 and defeated GOPer Henry Wolcott. Gubernatorial candidates who received a second chance but lost both general elections include Democrat Thomas Patterson (1888, 1914), Progressive Edward Costigan (1912, 1914), Republican Donald Brotzman (1954, 1956), and Republican David Strickland (1978, 1986).


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting