The West proved to be a pivotal battleground n the 2008 elections, both at the presidential level and in the success of Democrats to boost their majorities in the House and Senate.  Yet, current polling data seems to indicate that Western voters may be laggards when it comes to their support of all things Democrat.

Mood of the West
The mood of Western voters has not rebounded as quickly or to the extent it has in other parts of the country.  While the nation’s mood improved from 11% right direction/76% wrong track pre-election to 31% right direction/63% wrong track in current data, Western voters only registered a 23% right direction/67% wrong track – a significant difference.1

Obama Approval
As Obama prepared to take office in early January, Westerners like voters across the country expressed more optimism about an Obama Administration, providing him with a pre-inaugural approval score of  67% approve/14% disapprove.2

But, mirroring his national erosion of support, Obama’s approval ratings have sagged a bit over the last 60 days, dropping a full ten-points to 56% in the West since Obama assumed office.  Fully 37% of Western voters now register a disapproval rating. (NPR, March survey)

Generic Ballot
While election night data showed Congressional Republicans losing to Congressional Democrats by ten points in the West (40%-50%), current polling not only shows the generic GOP candidate with a 50%-39% lead in the West, but tied (42% each) with the generic Democrat on the national level (NPR, March survey). Naturally, we will look to future polling to confirm the shift but, clearly, there is a trend.

These trends are harbingers of good news for Republicans.  Without question, Western voters were angry, frustrated and fed-up in 2008… and they came out to prove it on election day.  Even though GOP candidate paid a price at the polls in 2008, recent data shows the GOP picking up some needed ground.  Could Democrats’ success in the West be fleeting?

NOTE: For the purposes of this analysis, we have not included California in the group of Western states.  Western states include: AZ, CO, ID, NV, NM, ND, OR, SD, UT, WY, WA.

1    Survey conducted by POS and GQRR on behalf of National Public Radio, 800 registered voters, March 10-14, 2009.
2    Survey conducted by POS and Hart Research on behalf of NBC News/Wall Street Journal, 1007 adults, January 9-12, 2009.

Public Opinion Strategies