Decline for Conservatives?

The New York Times/CBS poll just out is now the fourth to find Americans blame Republicans more than Democrats or President Obama for the debt limit fiasco. Unless and until the Times releases crosstabs, it’s hard to get particularly valuable information beyond that. But two numbers are worth noting and indicate problems for Republicans and conservatives.

On the question “how would you describe your views on most political matters? Generally, do you think of yourself as liberal, moderate or conservative? NYT/CBS asked this question 58 times during George W Bush’s administration, and only 7 times did 36% or more respondents say they were conservative. Since Obama became president, at least 36% of respondents said they were conservative 7 times, but out of only 16 polls. This time, 32% said they were conservative, the lowest percentage since July 2009 (with the second lowest being last month). The conservative fervor of 2010 may be subsiding.

The other figure that is on the verge of being a major milestone is party identification. Democrats (32%) are doing better than Republicans (24%), and Republican numbers have been lower in the last several polls than any period since 1998. But with both parties down, 39% identified themselves as independent, the highest percentage going back to 1992. A NYT/CBS poll has never had 40% say they were independents, but it seems likely one will soon.

Barack Obama and the Democrats aren’t doing great right now, but they’re polling better than the Republicans. But more and more people aren’t identifying with either party.

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