Favorability gap between parties narrows
PRINCETON, NJ -- The Republican Party's image -- quite tattered in the first few months after the 2008 elections -- has seen some recent improvement. Forty percent of Americans now hold a favorable view of the Republicans, up from 34% in May. The Republicans still trail the Democrats on this popularity measure, as 51% of Americans now view the Democrats favorably. With the Democrats' favorable rating dipping slightly since last November, their advantage has narrowed.
"Notably, in contrast to the 80% of liberals who hold a favorable view of the Democrats, a much smaller 55% of conservatives have a favorable view of the Republicans."
After two consecutive polls -- one in November 2008, and the other in May 2009 -- producing a near-record-low 34% favorable rating for the Republicans, today's finding restores the Republican Party's image to where it stood last October. Most of the recent increase is seen among rank-and-file Republicans. Republicans' favorable rating of their own party sank considerably this spring, to 63%, but is now back above 80%.
Across the same period, Democrats have enjoyed consistently high favorability ratings from rank-and-file Democrats. The percentage of independents viewing the party favorably has also been running higher than the percentage viewing the Republicans favorably. However, the 40% favorable rating from independents in the latest poll is down from 47% in the previous three measures.
The latest findings are from Gallup's annual Governance Survey, conducted Aug. 31-Sept. 2. This shows the Democrats earning particularly high favorable ratings from women, young adults, residents of the East, and lower-income Americans (in addition to Democrats). Also, the Democrats receive near-universal favorability from self-described liberals, and high favorability (62%) from moderates.
Notably, in contrast to the 80% of liberals who hold a favorable view of the Democrats, a much smaller 55% of conservatives have a favorable view of the Republicans. And while more than half of several demographic groups view the Democrats favorably, the Republicans receive this level of support from only Republicans and conservatives. Republicans are rated similarly to the Democrats in the South, among men, and among upper-income Americans; they lead among Republicans and conservatives, but trail the Democrats in favorability among all other major groups.
The Republican Party is enjoying some improvement in its recently beleaguered favorability ratings from the American people. A major reason for this is that rank-and-file Republicans are feeling more positively toward the party today than they did in the first few months after the Democratic electoral victories last November. Still, the Republicans have a fair distance to go to reach parity with the Democrats on this measure -- something they have not achieved since late 2005 (although they came close right after the Republican National Convention in September 2008). Restoring its image even more among Republicans, as well as among conservatives, could be a place for the Republican Party to start.
Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,026 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Aug. 31-Sept. 2, 2009. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.