12:05pm. Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center is speaking this afternoon at the Humphrey Institute in the first of two events today. This speech is entitled, “What to Watch in the 2008 Elections.” Kohut is one of the nation’s leading authorities on public opinion research and he is the Director of the Pew Research Center for The People & The Press. Dean Atwood began with some introductory remarks heralding Kohut’s pollster credentials.
12:15 p.m.Kohut begins by stating that the Democratic Party will have an advantage in 2008. Kohut has tracked trends in ‘political values’ for the past 20 years. The current political landscape, according to this research is more favorable for the Democrats. For example, there was increased support for the government to take care of those who can’t take care of themselves as well as an increase concern of income inequality (the latter of which is the hallmark of John Edwards’ campaign).
12:20 p.m. Kohut also states there is growing acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle (though not gay marriage). Social trends that used to favor the Republicans thus seem to be moderating. The latest trends in party identification are also trending Democratic – up from 43-43 a few years ago to 50-35 today. This shift, however, is not predicated on a more positive view of Democrats, but a more negative view of Republicans.
12:25 p.m. Kohut discusses how this presidential election is about change – with significant discontent among the public with regards to the direction of the nation and President Bush.
12:30 p.m. Despite these trends, Kohut states that horserace polls show Rudy Giuliani and John McCain running close to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Kohut finds that most Americans don’t view the leading Republican candidates as traditional Republicans. The dliemma, for the Republicans, is whether or not these perceived ‘moderate’ Republicans can win the nomination. The key to this election, says Kohut, are independent voters — who are decidedly leaning Democratic at this point in time.
12:40 p.m.Kohut does not believe there is a strong likelihood of a 3rd party candidate running a strong campaign in the 2008 presidential election, despite the call for great change in the country. Mayor Bloomberg of New York City, says Kohut, is not going to make disaffected Republicans any happier, and Democratic voters seem reasonably happy with their crop of candidates, so there is little base of support for the Mayor.
12:45 p.m.Larry Jacobs now moderates a question and answer session with Kohut. Kohut states that there is an increase in secularism now, at its lowest level since 1987, after an increase in the 1990s. Kohut also states it is going to be difficult for the eventual Republican nominee to rebrand the party.
1:05 p.m. Kohut states the advantage President Bush and the Republican Party had on terrorism and security issues in 2004 has largely dissipated.