"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt." -- JP Curran, 1790

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A historical guide to the future of Conservatism: Part 6

A continuation of my series; A historical guide to the future of Conservatism.

Previous Parts:
Part 6: Voting Patterns and Party ID
This part draws a comparison between political identification and party identification. Political Identification relates to your associations to "Conservative", "Liberal", "Moderate", or other definitions. Party Identification relates to your voting for a particular political party (i.e. Republican, Democrat, etc.). It is important to note the distinction.

I titled this series "A historical guide to the future of Conservatism", not Republicanism, not the Republican party. The Republican party is one vehicle with which to advance Conservative ideas and Principles. It is not the only vehicle, but certainly a critical path towards the realization of Conservative ideals in the recent past. There are of course other political parties, including segments of the Democratic party, that can and should be used to advance the cause. Outside of the political sphere, there exists many avenues that are often second-fiddle to many, but historically can claim a greater influence over the adoption and protection of Conservatism than the Republican party. For those asking what some of those might be, here is a short list: news media (yes they do exists), Internet (blogs like this), charitable organization, faith-based organization, the Chamber of Commerce, ARI, Cato, etc.

My point is that the Republican party is not our only path towards Conservative goals, but it is a vital to the execution of those goals. The U.S. is a 2 party political system. There are admirable independent parties, but other than in rare juxtapose elections, the field has been winnowed to 2 predominant players. Although they have changed in title, there will always be 2 competing parties representing the paradigms in our winner-take-all system. Those paradigms being the Liberal and Conservative ideologies. I don't foresee the death of either political vehicle (Republican & Democratic parties) in the near future so I urge the disheartened Conservative to not through the baby out with the bath water. If you are disgruntled with the Republican party as I am, take ownership of navigating it back towards the the true Conservative north. Don't sit idly by as the winds of change direct it aimlessly towards compromise. Conservatives are the navigators, the Captains the political figures, let us right the ship towards prominence. And through the unwilling Captains overboard!!

Before we get to the data, I want to point out that these categories follow the narrow linear view of the political spectrum based on Liberal & Conservative titles. It does not apply the secondary axis based on Authoritarianism and Libertarianism. For more on this and if you are interested to find our where you are on the Political Compass, go to http://www.politicalcompass.org/ and take their test. By international comparisons, the United States is "Centre-Right" politically. They have applied their questionnaire to historical figures and plotted them on the compass. Here are a couple of images of past leaders, current leaders, and US Presidential candidates in 2008.

By Political Identification:

These voters were broken down by their political identification:

Once again, the Moderate are the largest percentage in 2008 with 44% of voters not identifying themselves as Conservative or Liberal. Other than in 1980 and 1984, Democrats have won a larger percentage of the Moderate voters. Barack won Moderates by 21%, since 1976 only Clinton in 1996 won Moderates by a larger % with 24%. The Democrat numbers have been growing while the Republican numbers have been declining. Bush improved by 1% from 2000 to 2004, and then McCain dropped 6%. To my surprise, McCain, the Moderate champion, did worse with Moderates than Bush! Republicans obviously need to do better with Moderates to return the majority.

The voters who identified themselves as Liberal are 22% of the voting population. They overwhelmingly voted for Barack Obama at 90%. Looking at the graph it is easy to see the polarization of Liberal voters and their swing away from the center. Ford and Reagan won +25% of Liberal voters, compared to McCain's 10%. This trend like all is reversible. Remember that these definitions are not as clear-cut as they may appear.

Despite the perception that we are becoming a liberal country, 34% of voters identified themselves as Conservative. After Bush recorded the highest margins of Conservative votes for Republicans be receiving 81% in 2000 and 84% in 2004, McCain only received 78% in 2008. Another 6% drop, similar to his decline among Moderates. It is notable that McCain secured 78% of Conservatives, which is higher than Reagan in 1980, but in a year that 90% of Liberals and and 60% of Moderates voted Democrat, it was just not enough. This is the core constituency for Republicans, given the polarization that exists for the foreseeable future, they will need +75-+80% of these voters.

For those questioning whether the country has turned dramatically more liberal, here is proof that it has not. Conservative voters outnumber Liberals 34% to 22%, a 12% margin. Although, Democrats won Moderate voters by a 21% margins, when you include the splits among Liberals and Conservatives, Democrats hold a 6% edge. Not a dramatic shift considering Bush held the same margins in 2004. Again, we are inter-mixing party and political identification. Republicans need to focus on holding a large % of Conservatives in this polarized world and capture a larger % of Moderates.

By Party Identification:

These voters were broken down by their party identification based on previous votes:

The voters that Previously voted Republican made up 46% of the voters and to no surprise, Obama won 17% of these voters. After Democrats won only 7% in 2000 and 9% in 2004, Obama doubled those numbers!! Clearly the disenchantment with Bush and tying McCain to Bush helped Obama. The voters that previously voted Republican that voted for Barack, made up 7.82% of the electorate, that is greater than his overall victory margin in the popular vote!! Republicans need to reverse this and get +90% of those who previously vote Republican to continue to vote that way.

Almost 10% less of the voting population Previously voted Democrat than Republican. Barack 89% of these voters, Kerry won 90% in 2004. Obama was able to hold these margins, which is significant. Republicans need to court and convert those who previously voted Democrat (similar to Reagan in 1980). Recent years they have sought to expand the base and voter turnout among existing constituents. Reagan's strategy of converting voters has the lasting impact on party dominance. Hopefully Obama hasn't began a similar swing of "Obama Republicans" that could affect Presidential elections for decades.

First-time Voters registered at 11% in 2008. Obama won 69% of these voters compared to McCain's 30%, that is a 39% margin!! Other than the converted Republicans, these first time voters are another reason that Barack won. Although 11% is not a dramatic increase from years past, the fact that Obama won such a large margin is. So there was not a dramatic surge of new voters in total, but rather a significant skew towards Obama. I credit his use of technology in making the his grassroots, get-out-the-vote machine more efficient.

Key Takeaways:
  • In these very polarized times, hold a large percentage of conservatives and win a greater than 40% of Moderates.
  • Reverse Obama's gains among those who previously voted Republican
  • Capture 15-20% of those who previously voted Democrat
  • Upgrade voter turnout efforts to narrow the gap to within 10% of the Democrats
coming soon... Part 7: Conclusion and Summary

Signing off...JCB

Source: http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/results/president/national-exit-polls.html Sphere: Related Content

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