Democrats 29%, Republicans 26%, Independents 42%
Given the atmosphere of deep political division that has widened and deepened during Obama’s presidency and the clear dissatisfaction among Republican primary voters, Gallup’s latest poll on party identification makes sense.
According to Gallup, the percentage of people who identify with either the Democrat or Republican party is “nearing historic” lows.
In 2015, for the fifth consecutive year, at least four in 10 U.S. adults identified as political independents. The 42% identifying as independents in 2015 was down slightly from the record 43% in 2014. This elevated percentage of political independents leaves Democratic (29%) and Republican (26%) identification at or near recent low points, with the modest Democratic advantage roughly where it has been over the past five years.
Despite knowing better, I am sometimes surprised by how very few Americans actually identify as Democrat. It seems that they dominate the news and the culture, so it’s easy to forget that they make up such an insignificant portion of the electorate. I’m never surprised that Republicans make up an even more insignificant portion.
What is remarkable about this poll is that those identifying as Democrat is at its lowest point since Gallup began conducting these polls nearly 30 years ago.
[T]he percentage of U.S. adults identifying as Democrats is now at the lowest point in the past 27 years, down from the prior low of 30% in 2014. Gallup’s shift from in-person to telephone interviewing in 1988 complicates the ability to directly compare party identification data collected between the two methods. However, Gallup data from 1951-1987 collected in person never found a yearly average Democratic identification less than 37%, making it safe to conclude that the current 29% is also the low point in Gallup polling history.
Gallup also comments on the rise of Independents and the relationship between this and dissatisfaction with both parties.
The rise in political independence is likely related to Americans’ frustration with party gridlock in the federal government. In the past several years, dissatisfaction with the government has ranked among the leading issues when U.S. adults are asked to name the most important problem facing the U.S., and was the most frequently mentioned problem in 2014 and 2015. Also, Americans’ favorable ratings of each party are on the lower end of what Gallup has measured over the past few decades.
Politico notes about this poll the times during which Republicans outnumbered Democrats:
Over roughly the past quarter-century, more Americans have consistently identified as Democrats, though Republicans have pulled even in four years — namely those associated with the 9/11 attacks and the invasion of Iraq (2002-2003) and the rise of the tea party (2010 and 2011).
With the rising concern about ISIS and the refugee crisis, this may bode well for 2016.
It’s interesting to note that left-leaning Politico is now admitting that the TEA Party was good for the Republican Party in terms of (initially) attracting more people who care about smaller government and lower taxes.
If the rise of the TEA Party saw the number of people identifying as Republican rise, one can’t help but wonder if things like the attacks on our nation’s police, the bizarre “safe space” and anti-free speech debacles on college campuses, and the Black Lives Matter movement have had the opposite effect on Democrats.DONATE
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