Politics

Country Tilts Republican Post-Election

Gallup Poll data have periodically shown shifts in Americans' self-identification with the two major political parties. These shifts are not uncommon in intensely political times, such as in an election year. After this year's election, with George W. Bush winning a second term, Gallup data show a rise in the percentage of Americans who identify themselves as Republicans. 

In the first and second quarters of this year, Gallup Polls* showed an even distribution of partisanship. First quarter data show 32% of Americans identifying as Republicans, 32% as Democrats, and 35% as independents. That was followed by a 33% Republican, 34% Democrat, and 31% independent division in the second quarter. By the third quarter, the parties were still relatively equally distributed with 36% identifying as Republicans, 34% as Democrats, and 29% as independents.  

That pattern of an even distribution of partisanship continued in October. Gallup's five national October polls showed an average of 35% of Americans identifying as Republicans, 35% as Democrats, and 29% as independents. And in Gallup's final poll before the election, conducted Oct. 29-31, Democrats had a slight advantage among all adults -- 37% compared with 34% Republicans and 27% independents. But after the election, a shift toward the Republicans is evident. 

Gallup's first post-election poll, conducted Nov. 7-10, showed Republicans with a slight 38% to 35% advantage in party identification over Democrats. That advantage persisted and even grew in the Nov. 19-21 poll, which showed a Republican edge of 38% to 30%. Gallup's latest poll continues to show a Republican advantage of five percentage points, 37% to 32%.

Post-election shifts in partisanship after presidential elections or midterm congressional elections are not routine, but are also not uncommon. Usually, the winning party benefits from positive media coverage while the losing party tries to assess the loss. There was substantial movement in 1992 away from the Republican Party (toward independents) after the elder George Bush's election defeat. In 1994, Republicans gained and Democrats lost significantly following the historic Republican midterm victory that year. In the aftermath of the 2002 midterm election, when Republicans did better than expected, Democratic identification dropped sharply from before to after the election.   

%
Republican

%
Independent

%
Democrat

 

 

 

1992 Oct 23-25

30

34

36

1992 Nov 7-10

25

40

35

Change

-5

+6

-1

 

 

 

1994 Nov 2-6

31

35

34

1994 Nov 28-29

36

37

28

Change

+5

+2

-6

 

 

 

1996 Nov 3-4

29

36

35

1996 Nov 21-24

28

35

37

Change

-1

-1

+2

 

 

 

1998 Oct 29-Nov 1

29

36

35

1998 Nov 13-15

29

37

34

Change

0

+1

-1

 

 

 

2000 Nov 4-5

29

36

35

2000 Nov 11-12

28

36

36

Change

-1

0

+1

 

 

 

2002 Oct 31-Nov 3

34

31

34

2002 Nov 8-10

31

43

25

Change

-3

+12

-9

 

 

 

2004 Oct 29-31

34

27

37

2004 Nov 7-10

38

27

35

Change

+4

0

-2

For the most part, the shifts do not persist for very long. In some cases, the forces behind them die out and partisanship returns to what it had been. In other cases, new events happen and overtake the earlier ones. 

*Results for individual polls are based on telephone interviews with randomly selected national samples of approximately 1,000 adults, aged 18 and older. Each poll has a maximum margin of sampling error no greater than ±3 percentage points.
Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/14347/Country-Tilts-Republican-PostElection.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030