Elephant Down: Republicans are Leaving Their Party in Droves, Especially in the Midwest
|flickr.com/photos/amanda kay riley|
A new Gallup Poll shows that the precipitious decline among the number of people who identify themselves as Republicans is shrinking among nearly every demographic group -- churchgoers, moderates, married people, older white voters, college graduates and nongraduates, Southerns and Midwesterners.
In fact, according to the poll, released last week, the number of self-identifying Republicans stands at 21 percent. That is the lowest standing the Party of Lincoln has seen since the fall of 1983, when the nation was mired in a deep recession, albeit, not anywhere as severe as our current financial turmoil.
The poll also reveals that those jumping ship in the greatest numbers are young voters (18 to 29) -- and Midwesterners. In 2001, 46 percent of those polled in Midwest states -- long a reliable GOP bedrock -- called themselves a Republican. Now, it has shrunk 9 points, to 37 percent.
Writes Tim Dickinson in his article, "The GOP Jihad," in this months's Rolling Stone:
As [Arlen] Specter's forced march down the gangplank makes clear, the GOP is in the midst of a reactionary spasm -- one that threatens to marginalize the party for a generation to come. Rather than acknowledging the party's failed policies and reaching out to new constituencies, the GOP's dominant faction is retrenching around the anti-government, free-market, fundamentalist strain of Republicanism last championed by Barry Goldwater -- who steered the party to one its most crushing defeats in 1964.
Dickinson goes on:
Indeed, the Republican jihad has reached such a fever pitch that, to these ideologues, excommunicating one of the party's most powerful senators and handing the president a potentially unstoppable majority actually marks a positive development for the GOP.
The Daily RFT yesterday afternoon caught up with the Lloyd Smith, the folksy 57-year-old executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, to get his thoughts on the Amazing Shrinking Republican Party.
Unsurprisingly, Smith offered a dewey accessment. "Our data, here in Missourah, shows party identification almost equal," he said. (He could be right on that score, considering that McCain won the state by 0.14 percent, with less than 4,000 voters separating him from Barack Obama, the closest race of any state.) "We don't look at Gallup as a true barometer for Missourah. We don't look at the national picture."