Tonight I attended an informal dinner hosted by the Hoover Institution. The topic was the 2006 election. The dinner featured Stanford University political science professor David Brady and MIT political science professor Stephen Ansolabehere. Both are involved in (and the latter is heading) a massive empirical study of the 2006 election based on a survey of about 35,000 voters.
It’s early days when it comes to analyzing the data, but here a few of the professsors’ observations: (1) dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq (including dissatisfaction among Republicans) played a huge role in the election, probably accounting for at least half of the six point decline in the Republican share of the vote from 2002, (2) the economy does not appear to have played a role in the 2006 results, (3) party affiliation did not seem change much from 2004 to 2006, (4) the evangelical vote seems to remained stable, (5) the Republican landslide in 1994 was laregly due to a “sorting out” wherein representatives who were too liberal for their district finally paid the price; 2006 less a “sorting” election than just a bad year to be a Republican, (7) apart from “low hanging fruit” issues like the minimum wage (and putting the war to one side), Republican positions on the big issues remain more popular than Democratic positions, (8) in light of (6) and (7), the Republicans have a decent shot at recapturing the House in 2008 unless the war again causes them to have a bad year, but (9) given the number of Senate seats the Republicans have to hold in 2008, their chances of gaining a majority in that body are not very good.
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