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The number of Americans who identified with one of the two major political parties over the other in 2021 shifted dramatically as the year wore on, and it appears that President Joe Biden was a major factor in the wild swing.
What’s more, in what may be seen as a repudiation of both parties, those identifying as independents reign supreme.
“Overall in 2021, an average of 29% of Americans identified as Democrats, 27% as Republicans and 42% as independents. Roughly equal proportions of independents leaned to the Democratic Party (17%) and to the Republican Party (16%),” Gallup reported.
In 2021, an average of 42% of U.S. adults identified as independents, 29% as Democrats and 27% as Republicans. https://t.co/0q0mVkuCSm
— GallupNews (@GallupNews) January 18, 2022
The polling company said a new survey showed that as Biden’s approval rating tanked to record lows the number of voters identifying as Republican increased, resulting in a 14-point swing in which party voters identified with. The results reflect 12,000 randomly sampled U.S. adults participating in Gallup telephone surveys in 2021.
Even more troubling for Democrats is that the party started the year off in great shape, realizing their largest lead since Barack Obama was reelected in Nov. 2012, holding a 9 point advantage over the GOP, which now leads by 5 points.
“On average, Americans’ political party preferences in 2021 looked similar to prior years, with slightly more U.S. adults identifying as Democrats or leaning Democratic (46%) than identified as Republicans or leaned Republican (43%),” Gallup reported. “However, the general stability for the full-year average obscures a dramatic shift over the course of 2021, from a nine-percentage-point Democratic advantage in the first quarter to a rare five-point Republican edge in the fourth quarter.”
Gallup noted just how dramatic the shift actually was, saying it was “among the largest” since they began measuring the statistic.
“Both 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 polling company said.
Democrats are likely to lose control of both the House of Representatives and Senate in this year’s midterm elections, and party preferences will be a key indicator in the results.
“The Republicans last held a five-point advantage in party identification and leaning in early 1995, after winning control of the House of Representatives for the first time since the 1950s,” according to Gallup.
Not only did Democrats squander a nice lead, it appears that party preferences in 2021 were tied to the popularity of Biden, whose approval numbers continue to trend downward.
After noting that the disastrous exit from Afghanistan hurt Biden’s numbers, Gallup acknowledged that the president’s ratings “remain low as the U.S. battles rising inflation and yet another surge of COVID-19 infections, tied to the omicron variant of the virus.”
“The year 2021 was an eventful one in politics, after a similarly eventful 2020 that also saw major shifts in party preferences,” Gallup concluded. “In early 2021, Democratic strength reached levels not seen in nearly a decade. By the third quarter, those Democratic gains evaporated as Biden’s job approval declined. The political winds continued to become more favorable to Republicans in the fourth quarter, giving the GOP an advantage over Democrats larger than any they had achieved in more than 25 years.”
Gallup also showed that a larger share of respondents categorized their views as “conservative” rather than “liberal,” with even those identifying as “moderate” topping liberals.
“On average last year, 37% of Americans described their political views as moderate, 36% as conservative and 25% as liberal,” Gallup reported.
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