Politics

Gallup: Democrats took lead in party affiliation in 2012

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Caroline May
Political Reporter

More Americans considered themselves Democrats than Republicans in 2012, according to a new Gallup survey.

Based on an aggregation of all the 2012 Gallup and USA Today/Gallup polls, Gallup reports that an average 47 percent of Americans self-identified as Democratic or Democratic leaning, compared to 42 percent who self-identified as Republican or Republican leaning.

Gallup notes that 31 percent of respondents identified as Democratic, while another 16 percent called themselves Democratic-leaning independents. Twenty-eight percent identified as Republicans, while 14 percent were Republican-leaning independents.

“The percentages of Republican and Democratic identifiers were essentially unchanged from 2011 to 2012. The new Democratic advantage is mostly due to an increased proportion of Democratic-leaning independents and a decreased proportion of Republican-leaning independents,” Gallup’s Jeffrey M. Jones wrote. “Thus, the movement comes almost exclusively among Americans with weaker attachments to the political parties.”

Gallup has been measuring party identification since 1991. Since then, according to the polling firm, Democrats have usually had the advantage. In 1991 more people identified as Republican, and in 1994-1995, 2001-2003, and 2010-2011, the parties were virtually tied in party identification.

People identifying as independents in 2012 was the same as the record high in 2011 at 40 percent, Jones said.

“That is particularly notable, given that the usual pattern is for the percentage of Americans identifying as independents to decline in a presidential election year,” he said. “In each of the last four presidential election years, dating back to 1996, the percentage of independents was lower than in the year prior to the election.”

Jones chalked up the high percentage of independents to a lack of faith in the federal government and political parties.

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