On Friday, Neil Stevens at RedState described that morning's report from Gallup by Jerry M. Jones comparing the makeup of the 2004, 2008 and 2012 electorates as having "buried the lede so far deep, they’ll be fracking in Australia to bring it to the surface."
Indeed. The headline ("2012 U.S. Electorate Looks Like 2008") tells viewers, "nothing's different, so you really don't need to read on." The post's chart, after boring us to tears with demographic stats which have barely changed in the past four and eight years tracking characteristics which don't directly drive people's voting preferences, finally get to the ones relating to party affiliation.
Finally in his sixth of nine paragraphs, Jones discusses the party ID numbers, which of course are the ones that tend to reflect actual political philosophies and as such are the most relevant of any of the items listed to possible election results (bolds are mine):
For example, the largest changes in the composition of the electorate compared with the last presidential election concern the partisan affiliation of voters. Currently, 46% of likely voters identify as Democrats or lean Democratic, compared with 54% in 2008. But in 2008, Democrats enjoyed a wide 12-point advantage in party affiliation among national adults, the largest Gallup had seen in at least two decades. More recently, Americans have been about as likely to identify as or lean Republican as to identify as or lean Democratic. Consequently, the electorate has also become less Democratic and more Republican in its political orientation than in 2008. In fact, the party composition of the electorate this year looks more similar to the electorate in 2004 than 2008.
Even then, note that Jones won't acknowledge in words what the numbers tell us: Republicans now have a three-point lead over Democrats in party affiliation. The impact of Gallup's identified 15-point swing to the GOP (from +12 Dems to +3 Republicans) will have a profound effect on the electability of incumbent President Barack Obama, who won in 2008 by 7.4 points.
In a narrow cosmetic sense, claiming that the 2012 U.S. electorate looks like 2008 may be somewhat true. But large portions of the 2012 electorate clearly have changed their thinking in the past four years.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.