Eric Ostermeier at Smart Pollitics (a Humphrey Institute joint) notes that more voters are identifying themselves as “conservatives”:
While the last two election cycles have seen Upper Midwestern Republicans lose seats in state legislatures, lose seats to the U.S. House, and lose statewide elections for the U.S. Senate and the presidency, the conservative brand seems to be catching fire once again.A Smart Politics analysis of more than 160 polls conducted in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin finds that the percentage of residents identifying themselves as having a conservative political ideology has been on the rise in each state since 2007.
The story – which you should read in its entirety – notes that conservative identification dropped starting in about 2005, and of course helped lead to last year’s debacle:
In 2005, one-third (33.4 percent) of Minnesota residents identified themselves as conservative, in a yearly aggregation of SurveyUSA polling data. That number was slightly higher for conservatives in Wisconsin (36.0 percent) and Iowa (36.6 percent).
In 2006, the percentage of Minnesotans identifying as conservatives plunged 5.3 points (15.9 percent) to just 28.1 percent of Gopher State residents. Self-identified conservatives in Iowa also declined by 5.1 points (13.9 percent) to 31.5 percent that year, with the largest drop occurring in Wisconsin, with a 6.1-point decline (16.9 percent) to 29.9 percent. In that November’s election cycle, Republicans lost control of the Minnesota House, the Iowa House, the Wisconsin Senate, as well as three U.S. House seats (MN-01, IA-01, WI-08).
It dropped again in 2007 and 2008 – and we know how that turned out.
But having Democrats in the driver’s seat is usually a good thing for creating conservatives:
In Minnesota, those Gopher State residents identifying as conservative increased by 1.3 points in 2008 (to 27.8 percent) and by another 1.2 points to 29.0 percent in an aggregation of polling data through the first five months of 2009. This marks the largest percentage of Minnesotans viewing themselves as conservative since 2005…In all three states, conservatism is at its highest peak over the last four years.
Ostermeier notes that “moderates” outnumber both liberals and conservatives. Which is both good and bad news; “Moderate” isn’t a philosophy, it’s the absence of one; it’s a vacuum. The real trick is to fill more of those vacuums with something that’ll make ’em want to come to the polls and vote conservatives. Indeed, that’s been the trick in the last several Minnesota elections:
- In 1990, Arne Carlson filled the moderates with fatigue with the antics of Rudy Perpich.
- In 1998, Jesse Ventura filled enough of them with the desire to prank everyone else.
- In 2002, Pawlenty convinced a majority of Minnesotans that stupidity was a bad thing.
Here’s the one part that I bet hardly anyone expected:
Still, conservatives outnumber liberals by a large margin in all three states. In 2009, there are 1.6 conservatives for every liberal in Minnesota, 2.0 conservatives for every liberal in Wisconsin, and 2.1 conservatives for every liberal in Iowa.
So there’s the job…