November 28, 2006

Both parties losing support

Posted in National Politics at 6:18 pm by Paul Smith Jr

Democrats were certainly the big winner from this month’s midterm elections, but they shouldn’t be too complacent. They won a plurality of votes but not a majority of votes. Both parties need to worry that third party and independent candidates are winning an increasing share of the vote and determining the outcome of more and more close races.

Political analyst Richard Winger has developed the approach of using the top office on each state’s ballot to gauge the support of each party. Under his method, Democrats won 49% of the vote in the latest election, Republicans 46% and others 5%. In 36 states, the “top office” he looked at was a governor’s race, in eleven states it was U.S. Senator and in the remaining three states without a major statewide contest it was the total vote for U.S. House.

The 5% figure was the second highest vote for alternative candidates at the top of the ballot since 1934, only slightly exceeded by the result in the last midterm election of 2002. This year Republicans would have kept control of the U.S. Senate if voters who backed Libertarian candidates in Montana and Missouri had voted for the GOP incumbents instead. “It’s clear that a good way of charting public dissatisfaction with major parties is to see how much they lose market share to candidates everyone knows can’t win, but people still want [to use] to send a message,” says Larry Sabato, a political analyst at the University of Virginia.

Democrats still bitterly complain that Green Party candidate Ralph Nader cost them the 2000 election in Florida when his 94,000 votes vastly exceeded the 547 votes that Al Gore lost to George W. Bush by. If the new Democratic Congress doesn’t deliver on its promises, liberals may be the ones experiencing a critical part of their base defecting to Green Party or other protest candidates next time.
— John Fund (Source, via subscription only)

An interesting point made. Both parties are losing support, as can be seen when reading both sodes of the blogosphere. Many conservatives are disillusioned by the drift from conservative values in the current administration and liberals have similar concerns about the Democratic Party. (And the next two years won’t make liberals any happier if current reports are to be believed.)

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