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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Ruy Teixeira

Bush Approval Ratings Hit the Skids in New Newsweek Poll

A new Newsweek poll confirms Bush’s generally poor and sinking approval ratings across the board.
Start with his overall approval rating of 45 percent, down 5 points since early February. Then consider his approval rating on the economy, at just 42 percent with 51 percent disapproval. And his rating on Iraq, at 41 percent with 54 percent disapproval, is his worst ever in this poll.
As usual, the sole exception to a string of dismal approval ratings in this poll is Bush’s rating on “terrorism and homeland security”. And even here, his 57 percent approval rating in this area is tied for his lowest ever in this poll.
Turning to health care, including Medicare, only 34 percent say they approve of the job Bush is doing, compared to 56 percent who say they don’t, also a low for Bush in this poll. Bush also hits new lows on the environment (41 percent approval), on energy policy (35 percent approval, with 45 percent disapproval–also his first net negative rating in this area) and on the federal budget deficit (29 percent approval with 60 percent disapproval). And his job rating on education, 46 percent, is tied for his lowest ever in that particular area.
Quite a sterling record! And we haven’t even talked about his rating on Social Security in this poll: a magnificent 33 percent, with 59 percent approval. This is the first time Newsweek has asked this item during Bush’s presidency, so there is no trend data. However, that 33 percent rating is exactly at the average of the last five public polls to release job ratings for Bush on Social Security, so it is no anomaly: the public just doesn’t like–in fact, strongly dislikes–the job he is doing on this issue.
Two recent articles shed light on why the public may not be warming up to Bush’s activities in the Social Security area: the private accounts he is proposing make them nervous for some very good reasons. One is that, as discussed in a Saturday Washington Post article, the returns on these private accounts will probably not be nearly as good as the White House says they will be. Here’s the basic analysis, as summarized in the article (the full paper referred to below, by Yale economist Robert Shiller, can be found here):

Under the Bush plan, workers ultimately would be able to invest 4 percent of their income subject to Social Security taxes in their choice of stock and bond funds. At age 47, workers who had chosen private accounts would automatically be shifted to a life-cycle portfolio, unless they and their spouse specifically opt out with a waiver acknowledging awareness of higher risk.
When workers with private accounts retire, the Bush system would subtract from their traditional Social Security benefit all of the money deposited in the private account, plus 3 percent interest above inflation. That “offset” or “claw-back” equals the amount the White House assumes those deposits would have earned in Treasury bonds had they gone into the Social Security system.
But the 3 percent hurdle appears too high for many to clear, Shiller found, especially with the conservative strategy the administration has embraced. According to U.S. historical rates of return, the life-cycle portfolio fell short of the 3 percent threshold 32 percent of the time, meaning nearly a third of personal account holders would have been better off sticking with the traditional Social Security system.
The median rate of return was 3.4 percent, barely better than the traditional system. Upon retirement, accounts would yield an annuity payment of about $1,000 a year, “hardly a windfall,” Shiller said.
But he also adjusted for what he expects to be lower future rates of investment return by using historic rates of return from international stock and bond markets. Those returns “correspond more closely to projections of financial economists and should be emphasized more as the appropriate evaluation of the accounts going forward,” Shiller wrote.
The results were not encouraging: The life-cycle portfolio under these adjusted returns lost money compared with the traditional system 71 percent of the time, with a median rate of return of just 2.6 percent, $2,000 less in annual benefits than those of workers who stick with the traditional system.

Another reason for justifiable public nervousness about these accounts is the increasing problem of income volatility for American families. Here are some excerpts from an excellent article by Daniel Gross in the Sunday New York Times summarizing relevant recent research on this problem and its implications for the debate around Bush’s private accounts plan:

After mining data from the Panel Study of Income and Dynamics, a database produced by the University of Michigan that tracks the incomes of the same families over a 40-year period, scholars have concluded that incomes are much less stable – i.e., much more volatile – today than they have been in the past. “There has unequivocally been general upward-trend income volatility since at least 1975,” said Bruce A. Moffitt, the Krieger-Eisenhower professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University, who, with Professor Gottschalk, wrote one of the first papers on income volatility in the 1990’s. “It accelerated in the 1980’s, turned down in the early 1990’s, and then accelerated into the end of the 1990’s.”
According to a measure of volatility constructed by Jacob S. Hacker, a Yale political scientist, which tracks the five-year moving average of family incomes, income volatility rose 88 percent between 1978 and 2000.
“The problem in the past few decades,” Professor Moffitt said, “is that volatility has risen while real incomes haven’t risen.” What’s more, income volatility has grown significantly for those who can afford it least. A series of articles last year in The Los Angeles Times, written by Peter G. Gosselin, who worked closely with Professor Moffitt and other scholars, reported that in the 1970’s, income for middle-class Americans tended to fluctuate by 16 percent a year. But in the 1980’s and 1990’s, middle-class incomes fluctuated an average of 30 percent. For those whose earnings placed them in the bottom fifth, income volatility rose from 25 percent in the early 1970’s to 50 percent in recent years.
Because of other longstanding trends in the economy, strong income volatility can wreak greater havoc now than it did in the past. “The old view among economists was that income volatility didn’t affect consumption much,” said Raj Chetty, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley. It was generally thought that when families’ incomes fell sharply and unexpectedly, they would borrow, tap into savings or send a second adult (frequently a mother) into the work force rather than sharply reduce consumption. But, Professor Chetty said, “that no longer seems to be the case today.”
Why? Many families already rely on two incomes. What’s more, fixed commitments have risen as a percentage of total income. In her book, “The Two-Income Trap,” Elizabeth Warren, a bankruptcy specialist at the Harvard Law School, found that the typical American household in the early 1970’s spent about 54 percent of its income on big fixed expenses – home mortgage, health insurance, car, child care – with the rest left over for discretionary spending. By the early part of this decade, however, the typical family was spending 75 percent of its income on these large fixed costs. “They’re spending much more of their income on things that can’t be cut back quickly,” said Professor Warren. “If you lose income suddenly, you can’t decide to sell off one bedroom or decide to cover only half of your family” with insurance.
The factors that functioned as internal shock absorbers for families have weakened. And so, too, have external buffers. Over the last three decades, the percentage of workers covered by defined-benefit pension plans and employer-provided health insurance – guarantees that provide ballast for fluctuating incomes – has declined. Add this to the trend of rising volatility – especially for people in the lower and middle income levels – and it’s easy to understand the reluctance to transform a government program that guarantees seniors an income.

Exactly. No wonder the public isn’t chafing at the bit to sign up for Bush’s private accounts plan. In today’s economy especially, Bush’s approach just seems too risky. That’s why, when Bush tells people over and over that they shouldn’t worry about risk and that they’ll all be big winners with private accounts, the public doesn’t buy it and, instead, keeps on telling pollsters they disapprove heavily of the job Bush is doing in the Social Security area.
There’s a message there for the president, albeit not one he apparently cares to hear.

Does the Public Support ANWR Oil Exploration?

In the wake of the recent narrow Senate vote in favor opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil exploration, it is worth asking whether public opinion now supports the approach adopted by the Senate.
In a word: no. Very recent data from Gallup (March 7-10) show that the public still opposes such exploration in ANWR by 53-42, rising to 58-37 among political independents. Moreover, the intensity of feeling is heavily on the opposition side. Just 19 percent say that oil drilling should proceed and that they’ll be upset if it does not. But 45 percent–a gap in intensity of 26 points–say that oil drilling should not proceed and that they’ll be upset if it does. And among independents that intensity gap is even larger: 48 percent to 14 percent, for a gap of 34 points.
We shall see if the GOP’s ability to push the ANWR oil exploration provision through the Senate winds up as a pyrrhic victory. By these data, it just might.

Once Again on the 2004 NEP Exit Poll

Still not tired of the controversies that have swirled around the 2004 NEP exit poll? You’re in luck. There’s a new report out from the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), “A Review of Recent Controversies Concerning the 2004 Presidential Election Exit Polls“, authored by political scientists Michael Traugott, Benjamin Highton and Henry Brady, that does a fine job of summarizing these controversies and relating them to the recent history and key methodological issues of exit polling.
The paper does a particularly good job of explaining the mechanics of how the 2004 exit poll was conducted and connecting those mechanics to the subsequent controversies that erupted. Indeed, the report is much, much clearer about all this than the rather arcane 77 page evaluation report issued by Edison/Mitofsky on the 2004 NEP poll. And it’s a hell of a lot shorter: just 18 pages.
So, if you never got through the Edison/Mitofsky report (which I suspect includes almost everybody reading these words) give yourself a break and read the SSRC report instead. That’ll give you the big picture and I suspect for most readers that’ll be enough.

Public Still Dislikes Iraq War and the State of the Economy

I’ve been copiously detailing lately how little progress (really, negative progress) Bush has been making on selling his Social Security plan. And that lack of progress is starting to make even him admit the truth (gasp!) or at least some of it about his Social Security plan. A Reuters story today reported that:

President Bush said on Wednesday he would not send Congress a specific plan to change Social Security because it would be “dead on arrival” and admitted his idea of personal accounts would not fix the retirement system.

Welcome to the real world, W! But as his Social Security plan sinks slowly in the west, is he making up for that probable failure with progress on other fronts? The economy, after all, has been “strong and getting stronger” for years, according to Bush, and we are now in the 40th month of the current recovery. Are people suitably delighted with the economy’s performance?
And how about Iraq? With the Iraq elections, a new, more moderate Palestinian leadership and signs of positive change in Lebanon, has the public now concluded that the Iraq war was a great idea and that Bush is doing a fine job in that area?
No and no. Take the economy first. In the new Washington Post/ABC News poll, Bush’s approval rating on the economy is just 43 percent with 55 percent disapproval. That’s his lowest rating on the economy in a year.
And a new Gallup report, “How Long Can Wall Street Diverge from Main Street?: Can the Economy Be Good for Investors, But Not for the Average American Worker?“, points out that:

Only 41% of American consumers say economic conditions in the country as a whole are “getting better” right now compared to 50% who say they are “getting worse.” This negative difference of 9 percentage points is the largest since last October, when there was a negative difference of 11 percentage points, with 39% saying things were getting better and 50% saying they were getting worse. It is also three times as large as the negative difference of 3 percentage points recorded a year ago (March 8-11, 2004).

The report concludes:

As the good news on household wealth reflects, many Americans have benefited as real estate values and the stock market surged. Even now as energy prices escalate, the value of energy related stocks has increased. As a result, it is not surprising that upper-income families are spending more not only on higher-priced necessities but also on other goods and services as well.
On the other hand, lower- and middle-income households have experienced little wage growth. They are being squeezed by higher gas/energy prices. And, they are increasing their debt — consumer debt increased 11% in 2004. As a result, they are also feeling the impact of higher interest rates even at today’s lower levels. According to a March Experian/Gallup Personal Credit Index poll, one in four Americans currently have some form of variable rate credit and one in five Americans say that they are already feeling the pinch of higher interest rates.
In the short term, it is possible for the economic outlook on Wall Street to diverge from that on Main Street. This remains a much better economy for higher-income investors than for average Americans. But, this divergence can’t continue for too long. At some point, the squeeze on middle- and lower-income Americans will slow the economy to such an extent that even Wall Street will feel the impact.

Guess Bush isn’t quite out of the woods on the economy yet. Turning to Iraq, his approval rating is now down to just 39 percent, with 57 percent disapproval–his worst rating ever in this area in this poll! This is despite the fact that people are now more confident (56 percent) than not (43 percent) that the Iraq elections will produce a stable, effective government in Iraq and that they believe overwhelmingly (67-25) that the Iraqi people are better off as a result of the invasion of Iraq.
But these positive views are apparently more than offset by continued qualms about the war itself and whether it has been worth the costs. By 53-45, the public still says the war in Iraq wasn’t worth fighting, given the costs versus benefits of the war for the US. By 70-27, they still deem the number of casualties sustained by the US unacceptable, given the goals versus costs of the war. And, by 54-43, the public still thinks we are bogged down, rather than making good progress, in Iraq.
And in a very telling question that has been asked in one form or another about every conflict the US has been involved in since Korea, the public now says US made a mistake (51 percent), rather than did the right thing (48 percent), in going to war with Iraq. That contrasts starkly with assessements of the Afghan war, where no more than 9 percent thought the war was a mistake and of the Gulf war, where no more than 21 percent thought that war was a mistake. Indeed, besides the Iraq war, only the Vietnam war itself has been assessed by the US public as a mistake in the last half century.
Based on this evidence, it doesn’t seem Bush can count on public appreciation for his job on the economy and Iraq to counterbalance his declining political support in the Social Security area. On the contrary: public views on the economy and Iraq seem likely to reduce his political leverage and make his already-daunting sales job on Social Security even harder.

Social Security: What Part of “No” Don’t You Understand?

Polling data continue to stream in indicating that the public’s answer to Bush’s Social Security plan is a polite, but firm, “no”.
A Quinniapiac University poll released on March 9 found Bush’s approval rating on Social Security down to 28 percent, with 59 percent disapproval. Among independents, that rating worsens to 25/62.
In addition, the public opposes “reducing Social Security benefits to bring more money into the Social Security system” (part of Bush’s plan) by 81-16, but supports “raising [the] $90,000 income cap to help bring more money into Social Security system” (which Bush opposes) by 72-23.
The latest Ipsos-AP poll, released on March 10, measures his approval rating on Social Security at 37 percent with 56 percent disapproval, down slightly from 39/56 in late February. And his approval rating on this issue among “pure” independents (those who refuse to lean toward either party) is now a stunningly bad 20/62.
Finally, in the new Washington Post/ABC News poll, released today, Bush’s approval rating on Social Security has dropped to 35 percent, with 56 percent disapproval, his lowest rating every on this issue in this poll.
The poll also finds that the public now opposes “Bush’s proposals to change the Social Security system” 55-37. Even worse for Bush, 58 percent of the public says that, the more they hear about these proposals, the less they like them. That compares to just 33 percent who say that the more they hear about these proposals, the more they like them.
In addition, the benefit-cutting part of Bush’s plan generates strong 57-36 opposition even when described using Bush’s preferred language: “Changing the way Social Security benefits are calculated so that benefits increase at a slower rate than they would under the current formula”. And the more straightforward language of “Reducing guaranteed benefits for future retirees” yields overwhelming 75-20 opposition.
That’s a lot of “no” in a lot of different ways. Perhaps even Bush is getting to the point where he can (or perhaps must) understand this all-important two-letter word.

About That Military Vote

I posted briefly on Monday about Peter Beinart’s op-ed “A Democratic Call to Arms“, where he bewailed Democrats’ weakness among military voters, contrasting that with Republicans’ alleged big success among black and Hispanic voters. I cast doubt in that post on Beinart’s claims for Republican success among minority voters.
Now here are some interesting data unearthed by Philip Klinkner of Hamilton College concerning the 2004 military vote. These data suggest that the situation for the Democrats among military voters may not be nearly so dire as Beinart claims.
From the 2004 National Election Survey data:
Military Experience
Bush 55-45
No Military Experience
Kerry 51-49
Military Family
Bush 50-50
Non-Military Family
Kerry 51-49

Military Voters, Black Voters, Hispanic Voters

Peter Beinart argues in his op-ed “A Democratic Call to Arms” in the Sunday Washington Post that Democrats must make big progress among military voters to counter the Republicans’ big success among black and Hispanic voters. As Beinart puts it:

Republicans have been conquering their demographic challenge, while Democrats have not. Between 2000 and 2004, George W. Bush increased his share of African American votes from 9 percent to 11 percent….Among Hispanics, Bush’s total rose from 35 percent to as much as 44 percent. But despite widespread talk about military disaffection over Iraq, John Kerry won only 41 percent of Americans with military experience.

I think it’s a fine idea for Democrats to increase their share of the military vote–but not because they need to match big Republican gains among blacks and Hispanics. Indeed, the idea that, based on the last election, Republicans have somehow conquered “their demographic challenge” is absurd.
In terms of the black vote, Kerry’s 88-11 margin is the highest obtained by a Democratic candidate since the exit polls started in 1976, except for 2000 and Mondale’s 1984 campaign. To say the 2004 result represents a breakthrough for the Republicans is ridiculous.
In terms of the Hispanic vote, if Bush had really gotten 44 percent of the Hispanic vote, that would represent some kind of a breakthrough. But he almost certainly did not. The 44 percent figure Beinart alludes to is the NEP national exit poll figure which has more or less been repudiated by the exit pollsters themselves, due to sampling problems in the 2004 poll. The best exit poll figure for the Hispanic vote at this point is 40 percent, based on aggregating all the state exit polls. And there are good reasons for thinking that the true figure may actually be closer to 39 percent.
So, by all means, go after the military voters. But Democrats should go after them not out of desperation (Help! We’re losing blacks and Hispanics!), but because it’s a good idea in its own right.

Unpopular from Coast to Coast (Continued)

Yesterday, I reviewed several recent polls that show how public opinion is turning against Bush and, particularly, his proposal to privatize Social Security. Bad as these polls are for Bush, perhaps the bleakest news for him is in the just-released CBS News/New York Times poll. Here are the key findings:
1. Bush’s overall approval rating is 49 percent, his rating on Iraq is 45 percent and his rating on foreign policy is 44 percent. Bad, but par for the course for Bush these days. More startling, this poll has his approval rating on the economy down to 38 percent, with 54 percent disapproval. That’s only a couple of points above his worst rating in this poll, indicating that the public may be losing patience with the continued failure of the Bush recovery to generate robust growth. And Bush’s approval rating on the federal budget deficit is a miserable 29 percent, with 60 percent disapproval.
2. The poll asked respondents whether they thought Bush had the same or different priorities as most Americans on two different types of issues. On foreign policy issues, 58 percent thought he had different priorities and only 37 percent thought he had the same priorities. And on domestic issues, the verdict was a substantially more negative 63 percent different/31 percent same. And we are supposed to believe that Bush is somehow in tune with the American people, even if his party is not? Not by the evidence of this poll.
3. Slightly more people say they are uneasy with Bush’s ability to handle an international crisis than say they are confident (51-47)–hardly a ringing endorsement. But that looks robust compared to 63 percent uneasy/31 percent confident judgement on Bush’s ability to make the right decisions on Social Security.
4. On abortion and legal recognition of gay or same sex couples, people say the Democrats are closer to their views than the Republicans by margins of 5-10 points. And Democrats are favored by 17 points (48-31) as the party more likely to make the right decisions about Social Security.
5. The poll asked:

Some people have suggested allowing individuals to invest portions of their Social Security taxes on their own, which might allow them to make more money for their retirement, but would involve greater risk. Do you think allowing individuals to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes on their own is a good idea or a bad idea?

That wording returned a 51 percent bad idea/43 percent good idea judgement–the most negative response yet on this question, which was first asked in May, 2000. Moreover, consistent with other recent polls, the question has been following a downward trajectory as Bush has pushed his privatization proposal to the fore.
Followup questions reduce the number saying individual accounts are a good idea to 22 percent, if guaranteed benefits are cut, and to 17 percent, if the accounts would increase the federal budget deficit.
6. The public overwhelmingly believes individual accounts would not have a positive impact on Social Security’s financial situation. Only 19 percent believe such accounts would make Social Security’s financial situation better, while 69 percent believe it would either make it worse (45 percent) or have no impact (24 percent).
7. Currently, 50 percent believe the US should have stayed out of Iraq, compared to 46 percent who believe the US did the right thing in taking military action. That’s only the second time the “stay out” figure has broken 50 percent–more evidence that the failure of the Iraqi elections to substantially change the facts on the ground in Iraq is feeding into a jaundiced view of the US intervention. And people are actually less convinced now than they were before the November election that Bush has a clear plan for dealing with the Iraq situation (71 percent now believe he doesn’t, while only 21 percent believe he does).
8. Bush is continuing his long-term work of alienating the political center. That didn’t quite kill him in 2004, but this trend can’t be good for the GOP’s future prospects and the hopes they harbor of creating a new political majority.
In this poll, Bush’s overall approval rating among independents is 42 percent. Among the same group, his rating on Iraq is 42 percent, on foreign policy, 40 percent, on the economy, 33 percent and on the federal budget deficit, 23 percent.
And on Social Security, it is extraordinary how close the views of Democrats and independents are on most key issues and how far apart both are from Republicans. Bush is completely losing the battle for the middle on this one.
For example, independents reject private accounts by 56-37, fairly close to the 63-31 opposition among Democrats. But Republicans support them by 65-28, a huge gap. Similarly, just 14 percent of independents and of Democrats think individual accounts would be a good idea, even if guaranteed benefits were cut, while almost three times as many Republicans (40 percent) think so.
While Bush did just manage to squeak by in 2004, despite the many ways he alienated the political center, he and his party are likely to pay a considerable price for this approach as the Social Security struggle unfolds and we move toward 2006 and 2008.

Unpopular from Coast to Coast

There’s been a rather remarkable string of polling data in the last week or so detailing how public opinion is turning against Bush and, particularly, his proposal to privatize Social Security. A second term that was to have been turbocharged by the Iraq elections and his grandiloquent inauguration and State of the Union speeches seems to have gone sour more quickly than his opponents dared hope.
A Zogby poll released on February 27 included the following dreadful job approval numbers for Bush: 46 percent overall; 44 percent on taxes; 40 percent on foreign policy; 39 percent on the Iraq war; 37 percent on jobs/economy; 37 percent on education; and 32 percent on the environment. He only cracks 50 percent on one issue: the war on terror (54 percent). In addition, this poll found only 39 percent saying the Iraq war was worth the cost, compared to 54 percent who say it wasn’t worth the cost.
Then there was the NPR poll that I wrote about in my February 28 post. In that poll, voters said they opposed Bush’s “proposed changes to Social Security” 53-30, bad enough on the face of it. But subsequently-released charts of the poll data make the situation seem even more dire for Bush.
To begin with, the more familiar people were with Bush’s Social Security plan, the more likely they were to say they opposed it, including 64-31 opposition among those who were “very familiar”. Even worse, voters living in counties carried by Bush in ’04 actually said they opposed his plan 49-34. And changing the wording of the question to Republican-leaning language resulted only in a split 45-45 verdict among Bush county voters, while Democratic-leaning language elicited solid 53-39 opposition among these same voters.
That suggests just how difficult the situation is getting for Bush on this particular issue. That difficult situation is underscored by the latest Pew Research Center poll, which also documents considerable slippage for Bush in other areas. Here’s the lead of Pew’s report on the poll:

President George W. Bush is losing ground with the public in his efforts to build support for private retirement accounts in Social Security. Despite Bush’s intensive campaign to promote the idea, the percentage of Americans who say they favor private accounts has tumbled to 46% in Pew’s latest nationwide survey, down from 54% in December and 58% in September. Support has declined as the public has become increasingly aware of the president’s plan. More than four-in-ten (43%) say they have heard a lot about the proposal, nearly double the number who said that in December (23%).
The new poll indicates that the Social Security debate is packing a powerful political punch. It finds that just 29% of Americans approve of the way that Bush is handling the issue. This is the president’s lowest approval rating for any policy area, and is considerably lower than his overall job approval rating of 46%. Moreover, by a 65%-25% margin, most say the president has not explained his Social Security proposal clearly enough.
Further, the public expresses much more confidence on this issue in the AARP, which is strongly opposed to private accounts, than they do in the president or in Republican congressional leaders.

Ouch! That’s gotta hurt down at the White House and RNC headquarters. It looks like Bush’s efforts on Social Security are only succeeding in diminishing support for his own proposal and lowering his approval rating in that area. Not only that, his unsuccessful efforts are probably helping drag down all his other ratings besides. Confirming the pattern seen in the Zogby poll, only his approval rating on “terrorist threats” (59 percent) cracks 50 percent, while every other job rating in a specific area is 44 percent or less: education (44 percent); foreign policy (43 percent); economy (43 percent); environment (42 percent); budget deficit (41 percent); Iraq situation (40 percent); health care (36 percent); and, of course, that abysmal 29 percent (22 percent among independents), with 55 percent disapproval, on Social Security.
More on “Unpopular from Coast to Coast” tomorrow…

Where Have All the Southern White Moderates Gone?

In 1996, Clinton split the southern vote, 46-46, with Bob Dole. One of the keys to his strong performance was this: he actually carried southern white moderates by 46-44.
In 2004, however, Kerry got beaten by 15 points in the south (57-42). So where have all the southern white moderates gone?
In a sense, nowhere. The ideological profile of the southern electorate has barely changed since 1996: it was 17 percent liberal/44 percent moderate/39 conserative then; it is 17 percent liberal/43 percent moderate/40 percent conservative now. And among whites, the ideological profile was 15 percent liberal/43 percent moderate/43 percent conservative in 1996; it is 14 percent liberal/41 percent moderate/45 percent conservative now.
Not much change. But what has changed is a big swing from Clinton’s 46-44 support among southern white moderates in ’96 to Kerry’s 58-41 deficit among the same voting group, whose size and electoral weight remains as potent as ever, in 2004.
There’s your target. Move southern white moderates back toward parity and the Democrats are back in the (southern) ballgame.