In his first term, George W. Bush helped Republicans equal Democrats in party identification in the 2004 exit poll -- the first time that happened since polling began.
But in his second term Bush proved toxic to the Republican label. The Pew Research Center showed Democrats with a 51 to 39 percent party identification edge over Republicans in its 2008 polls.
Now Pew Research has come out has come out with figures for 2011. They're not good news for Barack Obama and the Democrats.
The Democratic party identification edge has been reduced to 47 to 43 percent. That's a 4-point drop for Democrats and a 4-point rise for Republicans since 2008.
The Pew analysts note, as if they were analyzing a growth stock, that the Republicans' numbers haven't improved since 2010. But the 2010 numbers yielded a 52 to 45 percent Republican lead in the popular vote for the House.
If -- and it's always a big if -- Republicans can maintain that standing in party identification, they should be in fine shape in November 2012, even with increased presidential year turnout.
It's interesting to see which groups have moved most in party identification.
La prensa los negros y los hispanos
bailan al compas que les toca Obama
As the Pew analysts note, there has been little change among blacks, who are overwhelmingly Democratic. Hispanics come in at 64 to 22 percent Democratic, somewhat better for the president's party than last year, when they voted 60 to 38 percent Democratic in House elections.