Frequent church-goers were the only demographic subgroup to show no decline in GOP allegiance from 2001 to 2009, according to a new survey brief from Gallup. Declines among conservatives and those 65 and older were also minimal--the only bright spots reported for the GOP:
Democrats gained most from further consolidating support in their strongest demographic groups, rather than winning over Republican core groups, a shift that goes contrary to President Obama's repeated overtures to the GOP base:
Aside from education, for which the parties were basically at even strength in 2001, the Republicans' losses tend to be greater among groups that were not strong GOP supporters to begin with. These include self-identified liberals and moderates, church non-attenders, and lower-income and young adults. Thus, a big factor in the GOP's overall decline is the Democratic Party's consolidating its support among normally Democratically leaning groups.
Losses among Blacks and minorities in general were also small, but these groups already have low levels of GOP support. In fact, the 2% loss in total black support translated into a 17% loss of black Republicans.
The chart below (which adds a fourth column to the one released by Gallup) shows a loss of at least one in five GOP supporters among eight of the nine groups where the GOP lost eight or more percent support among the population at large. For example, the nine percent loss among moderates in general, from 37% to 28%, translated into a loss of 24% of GOP moderates--just shy of one in five. Combined with a 47% loss of GOP liberals and a 0% loss of GOP conservatives, this is yet another indication that the GOP is becoming more extreme as it shrinks:
Thus, although Gallup did not focus on this, one of the strongest take-aways from these results is that Obama's strategy of outreach to GOP stronghold groups runs directly counter to shifts in partisan trend: he is striving most visibly to reach out to those least inclined to listen, while offering a wide range of compromise, or at least soft-peddling with respect to issues that have have traditionally appealed to the groups where Democratic support has been growing.
The aggregate shift is represented in two charts, the first showing the shift in party support--members plus leaners:
The second shows the shift in support between party members and independents:
This simply reiterates previous reporting from Gallup as well as others, such as Pew, showing that GOP losses exceed Democratic gains. The combined picture is that roughly half of Democratic gains in support are from people who lean Democratic, but don't identify as party members--a further indication that Obama's relative de-emphasis on outreach to the Democratic base looks to be at odds with what would build the party at this time.