In A Vastly More Conservative Nation, Democrats Pull Ahead

There is no doubt that the protective bubble of massive, double-digit generic ballot polls has been broken. However, I would like to point something else out: in at least the latest Pew poll, the nation is postulated as vastly more conservative than in 2004, and Democrats have pulled ahead anyway.

The Pew poll turnout model suggests parity among self-identifying Democrats and Republicans, just like 2004. It also suggests that the electorate in 2006 will be overwhelmingly conservative compared to 2004. In 2004, according to exit polls, 21% of the electorate self-identified as liberal, and 34% self-identified as conservative. If those same turnout models holds in 2006, then Pew's own voting sample would produce the following result:

Democrats 55%--35% Republicans

Gee, that isn't very close anymore, is it? The problem is that Pew's current turnout model suggests a 10% advancement for conservatives on 2004, with 39% of the electorate as conservative (+5%), and 16% of the electorate as liberal (-5%). There also is no evidence whatsoever to indicate that Democrats and Republicans have remained at parity since 2004. All evidence indicates just the opposite. But anyway, let's assume that the Pew turnout model is correct, and that the nation has grown far, far more conservative in 2006 than it was in 2004. Even then, Democrats have still pulled ahead. Thus, in order to even come close in 2006, Republicans will need to have successfully made the electorate far, far more conservative in 2006 than it was in 2004. In order to win, they will need to go way beyond that.

Here is the deal. There are polls, such as Time and Newsweek, contradicting Pew, Gallup, and ABC. Those polls do not suggest that the nation has grown vastly more conservative than it was in 2004. However, even if all polls suggested that the electorate was far, far more conservative than it was in 2004, Democrats have still pulled ahead anyway. So, the country would have experienced a massive demographic shift that should have been favorable to Republicans, and Democrats have pulled ahead anyway. In a vastly more conservative nation, Democrats pull ahead anyway.

I don't believe that the nation or the electorate became more conservative since 2004. In 2005, all polls showed liberals making sizable gains. But hey, even if it somehow did somehow become vastly more conservative, we are still ahead anyway.

In order to avoid a huge wipeout, and have any chance at narrow control, Republicans are going to need the electorate in 2006 to be just as Republican, and far more conservative, than it was in 2004. They are going to need to crush their 2004 turnout efforts. And even if they were to get that, they would probably still lose anyway. If the 2006 electorate is ideologically identical to the 2004 electorate, Democrats don't just win, they win huge.

Republicans are currently bragging that some polls, which show a vastly more conservative electorate than 2004, only show them losing by six or seven points (the exact amount they won by in 1994). If that is what they are reduced to in order to feel good about themselves, then bully to them. All polling, no matter what insane turnout models it projects, still shows us ahead. Further, except for Pew, it all shows us ahead outside the margin or error (even in Gallup). All district level polling still shows Democrats taking the House. All national polling still shows Democrats taking the House. On top of that, let me make some predictions: the electorate will be more Democratic (relative to Republican) than it was in 2004. It will not be more conservative than it was in 2004. And Democrats will take the House, by at least eight seats, just as my forecast claims. And if they don't, then, well, it might be time to burn this all down.

I have not written any concession speech for the House. It is just like the Connecticut Senate primary. I don't intend to write one. There is no moral victory here. It is all-in. We are not going to be ahead by more than Republicans were in 1994, and then fail to take control. That. Just. Isn't. Going. To. Happen. The will of the people is on our side, and it will not be thwarted. Not this time.

Tags: Democrats, House 2006, Ideology, polls (all tags)




   Have a beer a get some sleep.

by cilerder86 2006-11-05 08:26PM | 0 recs
To Chris: I am getting D (50.4%), R (40.4%)

October Table (transposed from the pdf file):

        Con    Mod     Lib

Rep      70.    23.     9.
Dem      24.    67.     90.
Other    6.     9.      1.

November Table:

        Cons   Mod     Lib

Rep      73.    31.     8.
Dem      21.    58.     82.
Other    6.     11.     9.

Ideology break down from 2004:

Con  34
Mod  45
Lib  21

Which gives:


Rep    36.04  
Dem    57.21  
Oth    6.3    


Rep    40.45  
Nov    50.46  
Oth    8.88

In other words, the 21 pt spread has now reduced to a 10 pt spread. Generic polls only go so far in predicting the race.

I think that this 10 pt spread this late is good enough to give a decent majority, I am predicting this for the new house:

Predicted composition of the 110th house of Representatives:

Democrats (228), Republicans (207)

by NuevoLiberal 2006-11-05 09:38PM | 0 recs

Comp. results


Rep    40.45  
Dem    50.46  
Oth    8.88  

by NuevoLiberal 2006-11-05 10:25PM | 0 recs
Re: In A Vastly More Conservative Nation

I'm glad someone is making sense - well done Chris.

All these recent "polls" have one thing in common. They OVER REPRESENT Republicans, and as you mentioned, by a lot.

Which, for me, actually make these polls good news for Democrats. Even while projecting more Republicans voting than Democrats (which friends is not going to happen), the Democrats still poll above 50% and still win by 6%.

I'm not worried about it even in the least. I'm glad this happened now instead of three weeks ago when a widespread Democratic panic may have ensued. But it goes to show just how far up shit creek the Republicans are.

We're going to win. Probably by a lot. Take that to the bank.

by JackBourassa 2006-11-05 08:26PM | 0 recs
Re: In A Vastly More Conservative Nation


The math is in the Dems favor. With over 60 races with Repub uncumbents within the margin of error they would need to win over 75% of those races to keep their majority in the House. That's statistically not going to happen.

If the Dems turnout they could win not only the House but also the senate.

by ab initio 2006-11-05 09:32PM | 0 recs
Speaking of Gallup, Chris

I don't know if you've seen their new senates polls, but they're pretty good. All LV by the way.

McCaskill 49, Talent 45

Tester 50, Burns 41

Menendez 50, Kean 40

Whitehouse 48, Chaffee 45

Ford 46, Corker 49

Webb 46, Allen 49 (this is really the only disappointing one)

And with that, we'd be up to 50 seats in the Senate.

by Ben P 2006-11-05 08:30PM | 0 recs
Re: In A Vastly More Conservative Nation, Democrat

I'm worried about the Senate not the House. Republicans didn't give up on holding the house and dump their money into Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia for no reason! If Pew's polling reflected what their own internal polls then they would be dumping a lot more money into House races.

The truth is that they saw they no chance to hold onto their majority in the house and don't want to be wiped out, losing BOTH house and Senate and leaving George Bush cut-off in the White House for the next 2 years.

If they lose the Senate too, it will be the end of their power reign. They won't recover from that even if they win the White House in 2008. So, it's all or nothing. And the all for them is the Senate.

Thus, it makes sense to try and pull out victories in Montana, Rhode Island, Virginia, Missouri, Tennessee and Maryland. If they can win upsets in a couple of these races, they win. And winning means they have a power base in the Congress to thwart any attempt to dismantle the Bush legacy (including the Tax cuts) for the next two years. (Of course Bush has a veto, but that's an entirely negative power, controlling Congress means that Republicans will get to negotiate with Democrats on any bill that gets enacted.

by Cugel 2006-11-05 08:31PM | 0 recs
Re: In A Vastly More Conservative Nation, Democrat


Thanks for the breakdown.  The Pew poll smelled fishy.  Still, you are a very optimistic man.  I may be one of only ten progressives out there that do not feel the Dems have made a good enough sale on why they and progressive policies are better than Republicans and conservatism.  

Nor do I trust the Republicans not to cheat, but that is another matter.

Are we more liberal than we were two years ago?  I think on a surface level, yes, but that is because Republican policies have hit up against reality.  What is the alternative to those failed policies?  That is the part of the structure I do not think we have nailed down yet.

Hopefully we get a majority at least in the House, unify our message behind solid progressive principles, nominate an inspiring candidate for 08, strongly oppose Bush's policies so they can fail even more miserably over the next two years, and advance some sort of positive agenda in Congress even with the threat of a Bush veto.

If we do that then we will start permanently shifting the public towards liberalism.

All that being said, I wish your analysis of these polls had been available to the pundits before they started yacking about how things have tightened.

by parmenides 2006-11-05 08:32PM | 0 recs
Democrats Pull Ahead

In a couple of threads elsewhere I projected that the D's would be +35 in the House but only +3 in the Senate.  My hunch is that Rove has calculated that it's not looking good for him in the House, so he might as well consolidate his resources and try to win the close Senate races.  The Senate passes judgement on judicial appointments, and with all their other initiatives going belly-up, the Bushniks will probably be content to spend the last two years of Shrub's term packing the judiciary with wingnut judges who will be subservient to the economic interests of the investor/management class.

by global yokel 2006-11-05 08:40PM | 0 recs

Thanks Chris, that was wonderful to read.

by RedDan 2006-11-05 08:41PM | 0 recs

Whew.  I'm glad I read this.  I'm definitely feeling a little better now.

by KC 2006-11-05 08:50PM | 0 recs
Vital observation, Chris

thanks for spotting it and for the post.

by NuevoLiberal 2006-11-05 08:55PM | 0 recs

Chris: get some sleep.

You've done everything you can.  I didn't agree with all of it, but the effort was there.  It's time to let go.

Here's the way I go about it: 6/576

by MarkB 2006-11-05 09:07PM | 0 recs
Re: In A Vastly More Conservative Nation, Democrat
Chris, The Pew poll seemed to oversample southern voters. I don't know what the regional breakdown of the electorate will be but I do know that most of the House races are in the midwest and the north-east. Also there was negative movement in the Northeast sample of the poll (which is weird considering that the north-east is probably most Democratic area of the country). There were a couple of other numbers in the turnout model that I didn't like but the regional issues seemed fairly important.
by Kombiz Lavasany 2006-11-05 09:07PM | 0 recs
Damn straight

Be of good cheer, everyone.

And wake up tomorrow ready to kick some ass.

Much love and y'all rule.

by Oregon Bear 2006-11-05 09:26PM | 0 recs
Pew Just Not Believable

The problem is that Pew's current turnout model suggests a 10% advancement for Republicans on 2004, with 39% of the electorate as conservative (+5%), and 16% of the electorate as liberal (-5%).
This is not just fishy, it's unprecedented over the past 30+ years.  Looking at the General Social Survey figures for ideological self-identification on a 7-point scale, the percentage for liberals has never fallen lower than 23.5%.  It was 24.6% in 2004.  It's reasonable that this figure would be slightly larger than self-identified liberals in the exit polls, so the 21% exit poll figure for 2004 is believable.  But 5 points lower than that?  It's never happened.

Furthermore, 10% changes in the difference between percentages of liberals and conservatives have happened in two years--in fact, they've happened in just one.  But when they have it's been due to a temporary deviation from the long-term trend, probably due to a combination of noise within the MOE and some real movement due to bad news... for conservatives.  Conservatives made a huge gain from 1982 to 1983, over 10%, but that was only because they'd dropped precipitously in 1982--by over 7%--due to a prolonged double-dip recession. Liberals made a gain of just under 10% from 1986 to 1987--after the Iran-Contra scandal became public--but conservatives bounced back by almost 6% in 1988.

These are the only examples of such large shifts since 1974. For there to be such a large shift since 2004, something utterly devastating to liberals' image would have had to happen--like if they'd been responsible for Katrina, Iraq and the rash of Congressional scandals.

In short, this shift is utterly incompatible with the past 30 years of American history.

There also is no evidence whatsoever to indicate that Democrats and Republicans have remained at parity since 2004. All evidence indicates just the opposite.
You said it!

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-11-05 09:33PM | 0 recs
Look at the Geopgraphic distribution

These are Nov. likely voters percentages.

Total 100 40 53 7=100 43 47 10=100 3 (1,795)

Region            R  D Other  change  Number
Northeast  20     40 49 11     6       (337)
Midwest     25     40 51 9     -1       (467)
South       34     48 42 10     7       (651)
West        21     44 47 9      2       (340)

Is it typical for the South to have 34% of the total numbers of voters contacted?  And you will see that in that region the breakdown is 48%R and 42%D. I don't know if that is standard and what the regional breakdown is in other polls.

But the other regions are only in the low to mid 20's.  The population numbers just can't be that the South has more absolute number of voters than the dense Northeast or Midwest.

So while I think this poll does indicate a stiffening of Repub support in this region, the south isn't a region in which we have too many races in contention. Their turnout increase isn't going to impact the 50-60 contested races in the disputed regions of the Northeast, Midwest and the Mountain West.  

If you look at those disputed regions you see that the Dem lead in the Northeast is 49D-40R (decrease from 60-34), Midwest 51-40 (same as Oct!) and the WEst 47-44 (though 52-42 in Oct)

Yes a decline but still big enough leads in the districts and state where we need to win.

I am going to sleep better.

by debcoop 2006-11-05 09:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Look at the Geopgraphic distribution
Just doing rough arthimetic off the top, I'd guess
California has a larger population than all the states in the deep south, CA has 10% of ALL electoral votes. That would mean the west coast should be at least equal to the south.
by phillydem 2006-11-06 12:46AM | 0 recs
Their 'Big Ideas'

There is a ton of work to be done in the new idea department. This is work that everyone in the country seems to have neglected. Remember the old neocon talking point about the liberals having run out of ideas? (As if 'ideas' were like logs for the old campfire.) So here we are in late 2006, and the neocon's 'new ideas' have devolved into a basic pattern of starting incredibly stupid, but lucrative, wars -- 'awarding' no-bid hundred-billion-dollar war contracts to their corrupt cronies -- then neglecting to collect any taxes from these fattened cronies. That was their 'big idea'!!!

Noam Chomsky rejected the liberal/conservative dichotomy decades ago. Years ago, I did too. About a month ago, even the great duct tape theorist decided it was bullmanure. And this is a guy from Texas who grew up thinking of himself as a conservative.

We clearly need new ways of thinking. The world is changing, not merely too fast, but too strangely. My first idea is that the old notion of a 'checks and balances' republic has gone totally belly up. At least in the near term, we need to invest our trust in the great unwashed, diseducated, distracted Horde. This is part of why I am so adamant about not letting the neocons meddle with, hack, fold, and spindle the voting. I say, let the masses realize that if they let the Karl Roves smash the economy with more wars, etc., the asses of these masses will surely starve and freeze in the dark. That should be enough real 'terror' for them.

by blues 2006-11-05 10:25PM | 0 recs
I'm googlebombing this

under the search term "piehole".

by hhex65 2006-11-05 10:25PM | 0 recs
The difference is white women

That's the block I always emphasize and look at first in crosstabs. It's the block that determines our fate; recently, now and foreseeable. PEW has white women moving from 55-40 in our favor a month ago, to 46-44 toward Republicans now.

Of course, the 55-40 is absurdly high. That must have been Foley-skewed disgust. We'll make gains among white women but they voted basically 50/50 in 2000, 57% toward the GOP in 2002 (the first signs of 9/11 impact), and 55-44 for Bush in 2004. I'm expecting a small edge in our favor this year.

If you want to pick apart the November PEW sample from October, the entire difference is among white women. White men remained virtually identical, from 49-42 to 51-42 favoring Republicans.

It's hard to believe the electorate will be 84% white, although no doubt that's what Rove is shooting for. The white vote was 81% of all voters in 2000, 82% in 2002 and dropped to 77% according to the NEP in 2004. I don't know how PEW can project 84%.

PEW has 41% white wen in the sample, which is high by every recent measure. It also has 50% males, which is against the trend of majority females in the electorate, 52% in 2000 and 54% in 2004. It's closer to parity in midterms but 50/50 sounds low.

I'm swamped with sports and didn't check the crosstabs of ABC or Gallup, but after briefly looking at PEW I'm confident the generic downturn is somewhat exaggerated.

by Gary Kilbride 2006-11-05 11:47PM | 0 recs
1994 redux

Pew's narrowing mirrors 1994 exactly,

by KevinHayden 2006-11-06 12:26AM | 0 recs
1994 redux

 as Josh Marshall noted yesterday.

by KevinHayden 2006-11-06 12:27AM | 0 recs
Still more conservative than liberal, but less so

While there have definitely been major liberal advances since the 1930's, and there are clearly large liberal pockets in America, mainly in the larger cities, but also in some of the smaller ones (especially near major universities), by and large America is and always has been fairly conservative, socially, culturally,legally and politically. It's only in the economic and business arena that we've generally been fairly liberal--and in a classical, not modern sense.

I mean, we're still having intense debates on abortion, the death penalty, gun control, gay rights, the environment, property rights and evolution, when the rest of the western world has long since resolved these issues along liberal lines. Sounds pretty conservative to me. The New Deal and civil rights advances of the mid 50's through mid-70's are still exceptions to the rule in American history. Geez, we had to have a horrible civil war in which ovr 600,000 people died in order to end slavery.

So all this talk about whether America is a conservative country seems pretty silly to me. We are clearly a conservative country, and always have been, and we're probably decades away from being genuinely liberal in the way that most European countries now are. The real question is whether we're becoming more conservative, staying just as conservative, or becoming less conservative.

Clearly, while it's fluctuated here and there, there has been an overall trend towards becoming more conservative over the past few decades, largely I think in reaction to the trauma and perceived excesses of the last great period of liberalism (50's through 70's), but also amplified by the conservative movement that has dominated our politics since 1981. And I think that this trend reached its high water mark in 2004 or so.

However, I think that we're finally moving away from this trend, and are starting to become less conservative, driven largely by a sense of fatigue and disappointment over the right's excesses and failures. Most Americans are not necessarily becoming more liberal, but there does seem to be a trend away from Reagan-style conservatism.

Whether this turns into a liberal (or, if you wish, progressive) trend is anyone's guess. Much of this depends, I think, on how Democrats handle the mandate that they appear to be on the verge of getting. If they govern well--and are seen as governing well--and are able to fight off the inevitable rearguard attacks from the right, then this might well happen. But it's still too soon to tell.

I also think that from a bird's eye view, the country has been trending more liberal over the past 75 years or so, if not 100 years (e.g. the progressive movement of 100 years ago), while at the same time remaining prodominantly conservative. There have been conservative reactions and backlashes, but on the whole the trend has been towards the left. But I think that we've yet to pass the center point.

So, long story short, while America has always been and continues to be more conservative than liberal, it has, on the whole, been gradually moving in a liberal direction, and while we've been living through a conservative reversal over the past few decades, we appear to have reached the tail end of it, and seem to be trending in a more liberal direction once again--but are still a ways from being genuinely liberal.

And I think that this year's elections will demonstrate that.

by kovie 2006-11-06 12:35AM | 0 recs
Excellent post

I've been screaming about this the last several hours. The Pew Poll makes a ridiculous over-correction in conservative likely voters. My guess is the nation is as liberal/conservative as it was in 2004. With liberal anger at a fever pitch, I see no way liberal votes fall below 21%, where they were in 2004. With Nuevo Liberal's caveat in mind about more conservative crossovers than liberal crossovers, and minor movement of moderates to the GOP, the final margin is ten points in likely voters for the Pew Poll. They were dishonest to suggest it had dropped to 4.

by elrod 2006-11-06 02:47AM | 0 recs
CNN: Dems up 20

Yes, that's likely voters. Dems up 58-38. It's crap, obviously, but it's no less crap than the Dems up 4. And it's a nice last narrative for the election. It included the Saddam sentencing, Haggard scandal, and it's after the Kerry gaffe. It's the LAST poll before the election.

by elrod 2006-11-06 02:48AM | 0 recs
Re: In A Vastly More Conservative Nation, Democrat
Note Andy Kohut's interview at
What I learned from Paul Perry - and I keep going back to him because he taught me everything I know about this - is that what you should be prepared to do is to have a way of measuring all of the things that you're interested in covering and be able to look at those measurements in the current election relative to your experience in previous elections. And we try to do that. The one time I didn't do that was in 2002, because I was pre-occupied with other things. On an ad hoc basis, I kicked out one of my traditional questions out of the turn-out scale and it really hurt our projection. It made it too Democratic. I won't do that again.
by DemFromCT 2006-11-06 03:04AM | 0 recs
uh oh

We are not going to be ahead by more than Republicans were in 1994, and then fail to take control. That. Just. Isn't. Going. To. Happen. The will of the people is on our side, and it will not be thwarted. Not this time.

You know, Chris, I felt just fine about our chances before reading this post. I felt even better until I got to the end and read this. But now that you've just Guaranteed The Win, I'm freaking out. Don't you know anything about superstition!?

I'm having these awful visions now of this little gem above being reposted on Free Republic and RedState in a few days and being ridiculed after the GOP holds us off in the House. Thanks, buddy, you really made my day. =/

by dwbh 2006-11-06 03:56AM | 0 recs
Pot Committed

I have not written any concession speech for the House. It is just like the Connecticut Senate primary. I don't intend to write one. There is no moral victory here. It is all-in. We are not going to be ahead by more than Republicans were in 1994, and then fail to take control. That. Just. Isn't. Going. To. Happen. The will of the people is on our side, and it will not be thwarted. Not this time.

We are pot committed and we are going to win. Don't waste time thinking about mourning, organize for victory.

by PhiloTBG 2006-11-06 05:44AM | 0 recs


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