Poll: Americans' Political Affiliation Shifted Dramatically from Democrat to Republican in 2021
With President Joe Biden at the helm, Americans abandoned the Democratic Party in droves last year, according to a new survey.
Data released by Gallup shows that in the first quarter of 2021, 49 percent of those who expressed a party preference either supported the Democratic Party or leaned that way, against 40 percent who backed the Republican Party or leaned that way.
But in the final quarter, Gallup’s survey found that Republicans were on top by a margin of 47 percent to 42 percent, a change Gallup called “a dramatic shift.” The survey pegged its margin of error at plus or minus one percentage point.
Gallup noted that Republicans are at levels of support not seen in more than 25 years.
Gallup tied the change to Americans’ opinions about the president, noting that former President Donald Trump left office in January 2021 at the nadir of his popularity in the aftermath of the Capitol incursion.
President Joe Biden entered office with generally high support, only to have that fade as inflation eroded Americans finances, the debacle in Afghanistan tarnished America’s image and the delta and then omicron variants poked holes in Biden’s claim that he could shut down the coronavirus.
The Gallup survey noted that politically, about 29 percent of those surveyed identify as Democrats, 27 percent as Republicans and 42 percent as independents.
Gallup summed up the year in political loyalties this way: “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.”
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said Democrats need a big win to connect with black voters and avoid a big loss in November.
“Bleak, bleak, bleak,” the South Carolina congressman called November’s prospects if election legislation does not pass, according to Bloomberg.
“There are a lot of base voters not happy,” Clyburn said. “So if you look at the people who are unhappy, the Republicans are never going to be happy, independents who, you know, pick and choose when to be happy, and black people who need Build Back Better and these voting bills in order to be happy. That’s going to have a very low approval rating.”
Others say Democrats’ malaise runs deeper than one issue.
“Sometimes you have a messaging problem, and other times you just have a problem. In this situation, [Democrats] just have the latter,” said Matt Gorman, a Republican strategist, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“No slogan or single policy achievement can turn around a broader environment. There would have to be a seismic shift,” he continued.
Midterm elections are always tough sledding for the party that holds the White House, and one observer says there is no reason to think that will change this year.
“[I]t obviously takes unique circumstances to redirect a midterm election,” said Stuart Rothenberg, senior editor of Inside Elections, a political newsletter.
“I don’t know whether there’s anything that’s going to happen that’s so shocking to people, so stunning that it will give the Democrats the ammunition they need to change the election.”
Ken Spain, a former spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said the election remains months away, which means the GOP needs discipline.
“The strategy for Republicans is a pretty simple one: Don’t screw it up,” he said. “Don’t make yourself the issue and allow the election to be a referendum on Democratic control of Washington.”
To that end, Emma Vaughn, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said the focus comes down to Biden.
“Biden has lost all credibility — he has failed to ‘shut down the virus’ like he promised, pushed Americans out of work with unconstitutional mandates, overseen a rise in crime, presided over skyrocketing prices for everyday goods and promoted trillions more in reckless spending,” she said.
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