Democratic Party Reclaims Edge in Favorable Ratings as Republicans Drop

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By Andrew Dugan

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the 2016 presidential race increasingly dominates political news, Gallup is now reporting that the Democratic Party has regained it historical edge over the Republican Party in favorability ratings, a fact which may have implications for the White House race.

As of the latest public opinion poll on the subject, 42 percent of Americans view the Democratic Party favorably, a gain of three percentage points since March, while only 35 percent of the public view the Republican Party favorably, a drop of two points in the same time period.

“After their substantial losses in the 2014 midterm elections, Democrats have seen a slight improvement in their political standing,” Gallup says. “Democrats recently regained the edge in party affiliation they lost last fall, while the approval rating of Democratic President Barack Obama has been slightly higher over the course of this year.”

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The Democrats’ current favorable rating is more in line with how the American public has seen the party over the course of the Obama presidency, according to Gallup. The Democratic Party enjoyed a favorable rating higher than 50 percent in 2009, but it then fell to the low 40s in 2010. It languished near that level over the next several years, aside from a brief spike in November 2012 to 51 percent after Obama’s re-election.

Meanwhile, Republicans have seen their slight boost in popularity last fall reverse itself.

“But recent political history shows that Republicans’ favorable rating can be fluid,” Gallup says. “During the government shutdown of October 2013, Republicans saw their favorable rating plunge to 28 percent. For a brief time, there was chatter among some political pundits that the GOP might fail to pick up seats in Congress in 2014, which would have been a rarity for the opposition party in a midterm election.”

But beginning in late 2013, Republicans saw their favorable rating steadily rise as the Obama presidency was beset with problems, according to Gallup.

The rise of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and the execution of American hostages hurt the Obama administration’s image, as well as the appearance of Ebola in the U.S. and evidence that the Veterans Administration falsified reports to conceal the waiting times veterans endured to receive medical attention.

By November 2014, the American public saw the Republican Party more favorably than the Democratic Party — a rare occurrence in Gallup’s trend dating to 1992. The parties’ current positioning is a reversal of what it was in November.

Bottom Line

“The Democratic Party has regained its edge over the Republican Party in terms of favorability, another sign that it is recovering from its poor 2014 showing,” Gallup says. “But both parties remain unpopular relative to their historical performance, which suggests neither has the wind at its back going into the 2016 presidential contest.”

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 8-12, 2015, with a random sample of 1,009 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50 percent cellphone respondents and 50 percent landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

© 2015, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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