Super Bowl XLIII: The Political Playbook
Sunday's faceoff between the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers showcases teams from two states which played prominent roles in last year's presidential campaign, Pennsylvania - the oft-visited, advertising blanketed battleground - and Arizona - home state of the Republican nominee, John McCain.
Exit polling and a new analysis from Gallup allow a closer look at the Xs and Os of partisan makeup in each state.
Both states became more Democratic in party affiliation between 2004 and 2008 as former president George W. Bush's approval ratings dropped. According to network exit polls, the GOP advantage in party identification in Arizona dropped from 14 points to seven over those four years, while in Pennsylvania, the Democratic edge grew from two points to seven. In both cases, however, voters' ideological leanings held relatively steady, with conservatives far outnumbering liberals in Arizona and moderates making up about half of all Pennsylvania voters.
The Gallup analysis found 41 percent of Pennsylvania adults calling themselves Democrats, 30 percent Republicans. That 11-point edge makes it the 18th most Democratic state in the union, tied with Wisconsin, Michigan and Washington.
Arizona's partisan split tilts a bit the other way, making it the 7th most Republican state: 28 percent of Arizonans called themselves Democrats, 31 percent Republicans for a three point GOP edge.
But Pennsylvania is a far more partisan place overall. About three in 10 of those in the Keystone State said they are political independents, while four in 10 said so in the Grand Canyon State. (The analysis posted on Gallup's Web site allocates those independents to the party toward which they lean, leaving Arizona evenly divided and Pennsylvania with a 16-point Democratic advantage).
Ultimately, Arizona gave a win to the home team in the presidential contest. McCain won by nine
eight points, a respectable margin but a far cry from his more than 50 point Senate win four years earlier; Barack Obama carried Pennsylvania by 10.
The 2004 results looked more like 2008 in reverse: Bush won Arizona by double-digits, while John Kerry eked out a three-point win on relative home turf in Pennsylvania (after all, the Steelers do play on Heinz Field).
The real home teams will meet Sunday in Tampa Bay, and while pollsters tend to be somewhat wary of predicting anything that happens in Florida, Behind the Numbers turns to the stats to predict the Steelers and their second-ranked defense will prevail over the Cardinals and their third-ranked offense. Final score: 31-21.
Arizona Pennsylvania 2004 2008 2004 2008 Party ID: Democrat 30 32 41 44 Republican 44 39 39 37 Independent 26 30 20 18 Bush job approval: Approve 57 37 50 25 Disapprove 42 62 48 74 Ideology: Liberal 19 21 22 23 Moderate 43 42 48 50 Conservative 38 36 30 27
SOURCE: Network exit polls
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