Rasmussen reports that the percentage of Americans who consider themselves Republicans continued to climb in August — just as it did in July:
During August, the number of Americans who consider themselves to be Republicans increased two percentage points to 33.2% while the number of Democrats was little changed at 38.9%.
That gives the Democrats a net advantage of 5.7 percentage points, down two points from a month ago and down significantly from the double digit advantage they enjoyed in April and May. For point of reference, the Democratic edge on the party ID question was 6.1 percent in November ’06, when the Democrats enjoyed their best electoral results in 30 years. At the time of the 2004 election, the Democrats had an edge of just 1.6 percent. The Republican deficit had grown to over 10 percent by May of this year. So while there’s been marked improvement, we’re still near ‘disaster’ territory.
The improvement in partisan identification numbers is likely the result of a variety of factors: the public support for the GOP position on energy, the gradual fade of an unpopular incumbent into the background, as well as admiration for John McCain.
If Patrick Ruffini is right about the ability of Sarah Palin to improve the GOP’s image as the party of ordinary people, it should continue to improve between now and election day.
And why is this significant? Because to win on election day, Republican candidates will need to outperform the generic Republican number in order to win elections. The smaller the deficit is, the more likely Republicans are to overcome the deficit. That helps John McCain and every conservative seeking office.