Conservative Turnout Data - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Conservative Turnout Data

Leading up to the election, one of the big debates on this blog and within the conservative community was whether the Republican Party’s abandonment of conservative principles would hamper turnout on Election Day and deliver Congress to the Democrats. Now that Democrats have taken over the House and appear likely to win the Senate as well, it’s only fair to try and assess whether lower conservative turnout was the culprit. I did a crude analysis based on the 2004 Presidential exit polls and 2006 Congressional exit polls, and I did find an erosion of support among conservatives, which may have been a factor in Virginia, but it does not account for the magnitude of the gains the Democrats made across the country.

First, my analysis compared the percentage of voters from each ideological category in the past two elections:

2004 2006
Liberal 21 21
Moderate 45 47
Conservative 34 32

As you can see, self-identified conservatives represented 2 percent less of the electorate in this election, while moderates accounted for 2 percent more of the electorate and the percentage of liberal voters remained constant.

Next, I looked at how each ideological category voted this year compared with 2004:

Kerry (’04) Dems. (’06) Bush (’04) Reps. (’06)
Liberal 85 87 13 11
Moderate 54 61 45 38
Conservative 15 20 84 78

This shows that a lower percentage of conservatives voted for Republicans this year than voted for Bush in 2004, and more voted Democrat. While it would be easy to point to this alone as vindication of the theory that conservative angst sank the GOP, it deserves to be noted that moderates shifted to the Democrats in about the same numbers, but since moderates make up a higher portion of the electorate, their shift had a more significant effect on the election results.

According to exit polls, in the Virginia race that will decide the Senate, Allen actually had more support among conservatives than Bush did in 2004, but conservatives made up a higher percentage of the state’s electorate two years ago and the percentage of liberals increased this year:

2004 2006
Liberal 17 21
Moderate 45 44
Conservative 38 35

Kerry (’04) Webb Bush (’04) Allen
Liberal 83 88 17 12
Moderate 57 60 42 40
Conservative 15 12 85 88

So, to the extent that this data is reliable, you could make an argument that relatively lower conservative turnout in Virginia may have cost Republicans the Senate.

However, given the number of seats Democrats picked up on Tuesday, it would be myopic to simply blame lower conservative turnout and skyrocketing government spending. As much as I’d like to believe that big government Republicanism was to blame for these election results, it seems pretty apparent that the election went the way it did because of Bush, Iraq, and Republican corruption.

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