The Democratic Party has gained a significant lead with the American public for the first time since 2009, the year President Barack Obama took office.
After party affiliations were essentially tied from 2010-2011, Dems earned a 5 percentage point lead with Americans in 2012, with 47 percent (ironic, isn’t it) identifying with Democrats, while only 42 percent reported identifying with Republicans, according to new Gallup poll data.
With 137.3 million registered voters in the U.S., a 5 percentage point lead amounts to an almost 6.9 million voter advantage.
The quick shift over one year could be attributed to the various political disasters within the Republican caucus, including the legislative “War on Women,” the downgrade in the U.S. credit rating due to GOP debt-ceiling brinksmanship, and the infamous “47 percent are victims” comment from former GOP presidential contender, Mitt Romney, to name a few. (For an added bit of context, another recent poll showed that Tea Party support is at an all-time low of 8 percent of voters.)
Most of the credit – or lack thereof – actually goes to the Republican Party itself. Democratic Party identifiers were essentially unchanged at 31 percent from 2011-2012. Dems did gain 2 percentage points from Independents who reported leaning Democratic.
The biggest change was a drop in support for the Republican Party. While Republican identifiers picked up 1 percentage point (within the margin of error), Republicans lost 4 percentage points among Independents. The change amounts to a net 3 percentage point loss for the GOP, leading to a net 5 percentage point advantage for Democrats.
Here is how the data breaks down:
Interestingly, last year marked the sixth consecutive year that less than 30 percent of Americans identified as Republicans, reported Gallup. The data reaffirms recent findings by Think Progress asserting that Republicans were able to retake the House majority in 2010, and defend it in 2012, due mainly to ruthless gerrymandering of congressional districts.
However, the Gallup poll heralds some good news for liberals. If this trend continues and Democratic-leaning voters increase by a few more percentage points over the next two years, Democrats will be nicely positioned to retake the House majority in the 2014 mid-term elections.
If Dem affiliations increase by 3 to 4 more percentage points, to a total of 50-51 percent of Americans (with Republicans losing the same amount of support), the total lead for Democrats would approach the 12 percentage point margin enjoyed by liberals in 2008, when Obama and a Democratic House got the keys to Washington.
Another fun fact: Not surprisingly, the presidency of George W. Bush saw a fairly steady rise in Democratic affiliations and drop in Republican affiliations, starting from the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The parties returned to equilibrium in 2010.
The data reported here is an aggregate of all 2012 Gallup and USA Today/Gallup polls, consisting of a random sample of 20,800 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.