Be of Good Cheer!

Three weeks ago, as you may remember, I argued that Mitt Romney would win a landslide on the first Tuesday in November. Two days later, when the prospective Republican nominee announced that Paul Ryan would be his running mate, I predicted that, in the process, he would not only win a mandate for entitlement reform. He would have coattails as well.

The fact that in the polls Romney and President Barack Obama have been running neck and neck would appear to belie my predictions, and there are those, such as Nate Silver at Pravda-on-the-Hudson who estimate the President’s chances for re-election at two to one.

If you still have faith in Pravda-on-the-Hudson or are for other reasons inclined to pessimism, you might want to look at Gallup’s latest party-favorability poll and then read Eric Zuesse’s analysis at the Huffington Post. Gallup has been doing this sort of polling now for twenty years. The latest of these polls shows that the American people do not much like either party but that for the first time since Gallup began doing this sort of polling they prefer the Republicans to the Democrats.

For the very first time, the favorable/unfavorable ratios are now higher for the Republican Party than for the Democratic Party. For the first time ever, the Democratic favorability ratio, which has always been within the range of 1.20 to 1.56, is now below 1. It is a stunningly low .83, which is 31% lower than the prior Democratic Party low of 1.20, which was reached in 2004.

By contrast, the Republican ratio is now .88, which compares with the 2008 ratio of .80, which was that Party’s lowest-ever ratio, reached at the end of the Bush Presidency. Prior to 2008, the ratio was 1.16 in 2004, 1.41 in 2000, 1.16 in 1996, and 1.36 in 1992.

Those figures compare with the Democratic ratios of 1.38 in 2008 (compared with the Republican .80), 1.20 in 2004 (vs. 1.16), 1.56 in 2000 (vs. 1.41), 1.50 in 1996 (vs. 1.16), and 1.42 in 1992 (vs. 1.36).

Under President Obama, there has been an unprecedentedly sharp and first-ever switch to preferring the Republican Party over the Democratic Party.

In fact, the damage that has been done to the Democratic brand under the Obama Presidency, going from a historically normal Democratic ratio of 1.38 in 2008, down 39% to the present .83, compares with the Republican fall-offs under George W. Bush’s Presidency, which declined from the Republican ratio of 1.41 in 2000, down 18% to 1.16 in 2004, and then down yet another 31% to .80 in 2008, when the Republican Party hit its all-time (back until 1992) pre-convention low – which virtually doomed the campaign of Presidential candidate John McCain and made Obama’s win almost inevitable.

The Democratic brand has thus suffered more (down 39%) under Obama than the Republican brand suffered under either of George W. Bush’s two terms (-16%, then -31%).

Though George W. Bush did major harm to the Republican brand, Barack Obama is out-doing him, hurting even steeper the Democratic brand, which historically (until now) has always been higher-valued than the Republican brand, not just in these pre-convention polls, but for decades in Party-allegiance.

What this means in practice, Zuesse suggests, is that the Republicans are more likely to win Congress than at any time since Gallup began doing this sort of polling. All that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have to do to capitalize on this opportunity is to present themselves as capable of governing and of having a serious plan aimed at turning things around. And that is, of course, precisely what they are doing.

In the meantime, there are polls suggesting that the Republicans will pick up Senate seats in Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin. On the first Tuesday in November, you should be watching these and the other Senate races – for if the Republicans strike gold in the upper Midwest there will be lots of pickups elsewhere as well. The 2012 election will confirm what happened in 2010; and, if the Republicans subsequently show that they really can turn the country around, there will be a realignment.

For conservatives and for the Republican Party, Barack Obama is the gift that keeps on giving. He is for us what Herbert Hoover once was for the Democratic Party.