An update via the P-G's Editorial Board:
The data can be found here. Oddly enough the P-G's editorial board gets the fact right from the survey. Perhaps they can show the Trib's editorial board how they do that.
Muhlenberg College's Institute of Public Opinion recently looked at Pennsylvania Republican voters who changed their registration status to Democrat. The results ought to make party loyalists fearful.
The swing to the Democrats has been dramatic. In May 2006, Democratic voters outnumbered Republicans by 550,000 statewide. Two and half years later, that number had more than doubled to 1.2 million. Little wonder that Barack Obama won the state handily in November.
The major factors causing defections were the presidency of George W. Bush (68 percent) and the war in Iraq (54 percent). With Mr. Bush in retirement and the Iraq war winding down, it might seem that the worst is over. But even here the findings invite pessimism. Most of those who switched to Democrat had been Republicans for 20 years or more, and most of the defectors indicated they are not likely to change back in the next five years.A few more findings from the survey itself:
Pennsylvania voters leaving the GOP to become Democrats were more likely to claim that their decision was the result of changes in the party rather than changes in their personal beliefsAnd:
The survey also asked respondents to state their level of agreement with a number of statements regarding the contemporary Republican Party. Among the statements that most resonated with individuals leaving the GOP were those that dealt with President Bush and the extreme positions of the GOP. Over half (53%) of the individuals surveyed strongly agreed that the Republican Party has become too extreme in it’s positions, with about the same number (52%) strongly agreeing that George Bush’s presidency led them to leave the GOP. [Emphasis added]And:
Just over 1 in 3 (38%) strongly agreed that the Democratic Party’s position on issues like gay marriage and abortion were closer to theirs than the Republican party’s stance on these topics. About 1 in 3 (34%) of GOP refugees in Pennsylvania strongly agreed that the religious right’s influence on the Republican Party led them to leave the party.The P-G sums it up:
These results ought to be depressing not only for Republicans but also anyone who cares about the health of the two-party system.One more thing the GOP screwed up.