Lessons from 2010

by Brian Bolduc

The Winston Group, a Republican polling firm, sums up the lessons of the 2010 election in a statement to the press. According to the group’s post-election survey, both President Obama’s and congressional Republicans’ electoral strategies worked: The president goaded liberals into turning out, and Republicans convinced independents to join conservatives down the ballot. Despite successful execution of both strategies, however, one was clearly superior:

Key Democrat base voters including liberal Democrats, women, African Americans and urban voters increased their participation from the 2006 election. Younger voters and Hispanics matched their 2006 turnout. Despite a better base turnout than 2006, however, Democrats lost by a 7 point margin. . . .

In the 2010 election, Republicans won Independents by 19 points and made historic gains with important voter groups including women, Hispanics, suburban voters, Catholics, middle-income (50-75K) voters, and seniors.

The survey also suggests the country has moved rightward:

From 1984 through 2008, moderates never made up less than 40% of the electorate and conservatives never made up more than 40%. In 2010, moderates fell to 38% and conservatives went to 42%(Exit Poll). Rather than an unusually large increase in conservative turnout or a significant number of new, more conservative voters, this change represented a serious shift of voters to the right (New Models).

Thus, neither the Democratic nor the Republican party has a big enough base to win an election on its own, and the GOP can draw enough independent support if it focuses on the right issues, the firm concludes.