Some pretty astonishing numbers from pollster Scott Rasmussen on party identification. He recalibrates his numbers every month based on thousands of national interviews, and for December he’s showing Republicans outnumbering Democrats by a 37%-34% margin. (He gives tenths of a percentage, but I’m rounding that off. That’s a slight uptick from the November numbers which showed Republicans ahead 36%-35%.
But what’s really amazing here is apparent when you look at his monthly figures going back to January 2004. For one thing, there’s usually not much change from month to month. But his figures for October 2010 showed Democrats up 36%-33%. Second, Rasmussen hasn’t shown Republicans leading in party identification before November 2010. For example, party identification in November 2004, the month George W. Bush was reelected, was 38%-36% Democratic. The third thing that is remarkable here is how long Democratic party identification has sunk. In November 2008, the month Barack Obama was elected, Democrats led 41%-34%, for example, and they peaked at 42% in May and December 2008. Going from 42% to 34% is a big shift, even bigger than Republicans going from their September through December 2004 peak of 37% to their low point of 31% in various months in 2006, 2007 and 2009.
Is this just a brief honeymoon period for Republicans after their big win, or does it represent something more lasting? We don’t know. But the fact that Rasmussen has shown Republicans leading Democrats in party identification for two months in a row makes this look like something more than statistical noise.