The tide is changing fast in U.S. politics.
A comprehensive twenty-year study by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press shows that 50 percent of Americans now identify themselves as Democrats, while only 35 percent identify as Republicans. The figures have changed dramatically since 2002 when both parties were equal with 43 percent.
It's no surprise to see a change in opinion from the financially strapped, war-weary public, particularly as the Bush administration continues to melt down. Yet such a dramatic shift in sentiment in just five years demonstrates just how much momentum the Democrats have headed into the 2008 election.
The key findings of the report indicate that the public increasingly favors a social safety net, frowns upon assertive national security measures, and believes that the gap between rich and poor is out of control.
Media coverage of the report speculates whether this is the end of the conservative Republican era.
"This is the beginning of a Democratic opportunity," said Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. "The question is whether we blow it or not."
Clearly, the public is responding to the fact that Republicans have betrayed some of the key values of their party. Traditionally a party that prides itself on national defense, fiscal discipline, and Christian values, the Republicans have delivered years of failed foreign policy, budget-busting defense spending, and rampant corruption.
The iron is hot. The only question is whether Democratic leaders can strike effectively, delivering what the public wants--a government that is able and willing to act on the values that Americans cherish.
For Senator Barack Obama and other candidates, the challenge is clear: The public is ready for change and willing to listen. What do you have to say?