Historically speaking, the Democratic Party generally has an advantage with party identification in the United States. 2021 was no exception to this rule, as slightly more adults identified as ‘Democrat’ or ‘lean Democratic’ (46%) than identified as ‘Republican’ or ‘lean Republican’ (43%), according to Gallup.
But that may not last long. Gallup has been surveying U.S. adults on this question all year and notes that “the general stability for the full-year average obscures a dramatic shift throughout 2021, from a nine-percentage-point Democratic advantage in the first quarter to a rare five-point Republican edge in the fourth quarter.”
According to Jeffrey Jones of Gallup, “the nine-point Democratic advantage in the first quarter and the five-point Republican edge in the fourth quarter are among the largest Gallup has measured for each party in any quarter since it began regularly measuring party identification and leaning in 1991.”
The last time Democrats had a nine-point edge in party identification was in the fourth quarter of 2012 when Barack Obama was inexplicably re-elected despite his failure of a first term. Democrats had larger quarterly leads in 1992, 1999, and between mid-2006 and early 2009.
Republicans, however, traditionally have not enjoyed similar leads in party identification. According to Gallup, the Republican Party “has held as much as a five-point advantage in a total of only four quarters since 1991.” Their last five-point advantage was in early 1995, right after they won control of the House with their Contract with America under the leadership of Newt Gingrich. Before that, they had a more significant advantage in the first quarter of 1991, after George H.W. Bush’s victory in the Gulf War.
Of course, party preferences tend to be linked to the president’s approval. Joe Biden’s approval ratings, as you know, are in the toilet, and he seems to be taking his party down the drain with him.
Biden took office with various advantages. “With Trump’s approval rating at a low point and Biden relatively popular in the first quarter, 49% of Americans identified as Democrats or leaned Democratic, compared with 40% who were Republicans or Republican leaners,” Jones explained. However, “In the second quarter, Democratic affiliation stayed high, while Republican affiliation began to recover, increasing to 43%.”
Things really started to change in the third quarter when there was a sizable decline in Democratic identification as Joe Biden’s approval ratings tanked. As his approval went down, so did Democratic identification and leaning, from 49% to 45%.
The fourth quarter saw Democratic identification continue to fall, from 45% to 42%, as well as Republican gains, from 44% to 47%. This change put Republican identification on top.
— Matt Margolis (@mattmargolis) January 17, 2022
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Democrats still netted an advantage for the year overall, but there’s an undeniable trend that’s favorable to the Republican Party when you look at the quarterly numbers. At the rate Biden is going, Republican party identification will have a huge advantage coming into the midterm elections.
Congratulations, Joe Biden, you’ve doomed your party.