The balance of party identification in the American electorate now favors the Democratic Party by a decidedly larger margin than in either of the two previous presidential election cycles.
In 5,566 interviews with registered voters conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press during the first two months of 2008, 36% identify themselves as Democrats, and just 27% as Republicans.
The share of voters who call themselves Republicans has declined by six points since 2004, and represents, on an annualized basis, the lowest percentage of self-identified Republican voters in 16 years of polling by the Center.
The Democratic Party has also built a substantial edge among independent voters. Of the 37% who claim no party identification, 15% lean Democratic, 10% lean Republican, and 12% have no leaning either way.
By comparison, in 2004 about equal numbers of independents leaned toward both parties. When "leaners" are combined with partisans, however, the Democratic Party now holds a 14-point advantage among voters nationwide (51% Dem/lean-Dem to 37% Rep/lean-Rep), up from a three-point advantage four years ago.
So how can we explain the fact that John McCain is in a virtual tie with both Democratic candidates in spite of the fact he is little more than a clone of a president with a 32 percent approval rating? The economy is most voters primary concern and McCain has admitted he knows little about economics and in fact about the only thing he has said is that the Bush tax cuts should be continued. While approval of the Iraq war is up a little a majority still want the US out - McCain wants to be there for a hundred years. A majority of voters oppose military action against Iran - McCain wants to "bomb - bomb - bomb Iran". So how can he be doing so well? Is it because of race and gender? The gender issue is complicated because we are dealing with Hillary Clinton who has baggage that is not entirely gender related. The race issue is clearer. Obama has been unable to get a majority of white male voters in any primary, a sure sign that race is still an issue. John Cole pointed out that there is no way Obama could carry his state of West Virginia.
Posting at Firedoglake David Neiwert wonders how much of the race issue is a creation of the media.
Probably the most remarkable aspect of the recent feeding frenzy about Barack Obama's so-called "pastor problem" -- besides the agility and smarts that Obama has displayed in handling it -- is not as much what it reveals about the state of race in America as what it reveals about the state of the American media.Is the media dumping gasoline on the race fire? David thinks the answer is yes.