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Republicans Do Have More Zeal Than Their Democratic Counterparts…Pre-1976

- December 20, 2007

I recently questioned the claim that “Republican voters have displayed a zeal for their candidates that Democrats could only envy.” I was going to pursue the claim further by breaking down presidential approval by partisanship, but my co-bloggers, Lee Sigelman and John Sides, as well as Thomas Holbrook and a comment on the original post, suggested using the National Election Studies data. Thomas Holbrook and John Sides were kind enough to do the analysis for me. Holbrook used the feeling thermometer and Sides used the affect (likes-dislikes) toward the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates, but both show similar trends.

First, here is Holbrook’s graph:

Holbrook.png

Second, is Sides’ graph, but this goes back to 1952 (I’ve converted the table into a graph):

pres.zeal.png

As we can see from both graphs (and as Holbrook noted in his email to me), based on the NES feeling thermometer and the affect scores “it does appear that Republicans are more positive (I don’t know if I’d call it ‘love’) about their presidential candidates than Democrats are about their candidates” but since 1976, the “zeal” gap has narrowed considerably.