Star Parker

The bad news for Republicans is that prevailing disillusionment is disproportionately toward and within their party.

According to Pew, 33percent now identify as Democrats, up 2 points from 31 percent five years ago.

Twenty five percent now identify as Republicans, down 5 points from five years ago.

In addition to this, 17 percent of independents now lean Democratic, up 6 points from five years ago and 11% of independents now lean Republican, down one point from five years ago.

This overall shift in sentiment toward the Democratic Party, however, reflects disillusionment with Republicans rather than enthusiasm for Democrats. The current favorability rating for the Democratic Party is at 54percent, exactly where it was after President Bush's victory in 2004. However, the current favorability rating for the Republican Party is 41 percent, down 11 points from 52 percent over the same period.

The point is that Americans have not suddenly fallen back in love with the liberals.

They have fallen out of love with a Republican Party that was supposed to be carrying the banner of traditional values and limited government, whom they no longer trust to do so.

When Reagan ran against the entrenched political establishment in 1980, the sentiment toward him was similar to what we hear today about Mike Huckabee. How could this guy -- a class B actor, former sportscaster, with a bachelor's degree from Eureka College in Illinois -- be running for President of the United States?

But Reagan had been traveling and speaking around the country for years. He knew the country and he knew its people. When he ran against government and the establishment, these folks felt he was representing them.

But now Republicans have become a detached ruling elite like the Democrats that Reagan ran against. And they have alienated a chunk of the grass roots within their own party, and independents that Reagan had wooed in.

Republicans can win back the hearts and minds of Americans. But they have to get real and get honest. Unlike the former governor of Massachusetts.

Star Parker

Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can do About It.