I recently conducted a confidential post-election poll in a swing state and asked voters to compare the two parties — Republicans and Democrats — on issues and images. Most of the results were of the ho-hum, what-we’d-expect variety.
Republicans are still seen as best at keeping taxes down and fighting terrorism, while Democrats are still preeminent when it comes to healthcare and schools. In spite of the seeming mega-shift in the two major parties’ electoral fortunes, their primary images mostly remain intact.
To try and dig deeper into the factors that unseated the GOP majority, I asked about some seldom-examined image-traits of the parties. The most important of these asked voters which party would best be described as friendly and open. The results weren’t even close. By a 3-to-1 margin, voters perceived the Democrats as a friendlier party.
The magnitude of the Democratic advantage cut across most every demographic segment of the electorate, declining only among seniors, especially older men. But even in that slice of the electorate the Democrats maintained a solid 2-to-1 edge in friendliness.
Some of the political cross-tabs were fascinating. Voters who described themselves as Republicans, but then said their partisanship isn’t very strong, didn’t think either party is very friendly. It doesn’t appear that marginal Republicans are a threat to leave us on account of Democrats’ beguiling entreaties. But they might be wooed by an Independent candidacy.
The registered Independent and non-partisan voters in this poll were the coup-de-gr