Last week, prompted by commentary from national pundits, we posed the question whether the two major U.S. political parties are—how to put it delicately?—at the end of their useful lives. We’d prefer that not be the case, believing a two-party system, assuming it’s functioning well, helps guard against tribalism and clarifies choices for voters.
Right around the time we were composing those thoughts, the Gallup polling organization published new numbers suggesting, among other things, that the parties have a good long way to go before they risk fading to irrelevance.
What Gallup found indicates Americans have been identifying policies with the parties advancing them, and they’ve been acting on those insights, migrating from one party to the other. After seven years of the Obama version of the Democratic Party, guess from which one to which one.
Conducted over a full year, the survey isn’t the usual snapshot that attempts to tell you where things stand right now, but the sample size of almost 178,000 people is extraordinary, adding weight to the findings.
A couple of days later, the formidable analyst Michael Barone reflected on Iowa Caucus fallout that shows self-identification with the major parties is alive and well, and that for now, at least, and in Iowa, at least, energy is on the upswing among those who identify with the Republicans.
Last week we cited campaign finance “reform,” which severely diminished parties’ influence over their candidates, as the major factor in their decline. The combination of a Democratic Party increasingly beholden to the freakazoid Left and Supreme Court jurisprudence increasingly favoring unfettered First Amendment rights—may have positive effects in the coming years.