Both parties' favorability ratings are below their historical averages
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans still rate the Republican Party less favorably than the Democratic Party, 39% vs. 46%. But both parties' ratings are down from November 2012. The Democrats' rating dropped more, from 51% just after President Barack Obama won re-election. Americans' ratings of the Democratic Party are now more on par with readings earlier in 2012, while their ratings of the GOP are the lowest since May 2010.
Meanwhile, a majority of Americans (53%) see the Republican Party unfavorably, up slightly from 50% in November. Forty-eight percent see the Democratic Party unfavorably, an increase from 43% in November.
Notably, a fifth of adults (20%) see both parties unfavorably, while 12% view both parties favorably. Another 60% view one party favorably and the other unfavorably. The June 1-4 poll comes at a time when Americans continue to express disenchantment with the major institutions of the U.S. political system, including Congress and the presidency. These findings suggest that Americans are generally dissatisfied with the elected branches of the U.S. government.
Democratic Party Generally More Popular, but Both Parties Below Average
The American public has typically seen the Democratic Party more favorably than the GOP since Gallup first asked this question in 1992. The Democrats have an average favorability rating of 52%, while the GOP's average is 46%. Clearly, both parties are currently underperforming relative to their historical averages -- a trend that has been apparent for several years now.
The Republican Party's favorable rating has generally been in the low 40s to high 30s since mid-2005 -- perhaps not coincidentally when President George W. Bush's disapproval ratings began to move above 50%. Meanwhile, Democrats saw their party's buoyant 2008-2009 favorable rating fall to a low of 41% in March 2010, before it slowly climbed back up, although not to its earlier peaks. Neither party has been viewed favorably by a majority of Americans since 2009, with the exception of a post-2012 election "victory bump" of 51% for the Democratic Party. Republicans last recorded a majority favorability rating (51%) shortly after the start of Bush's second term, in February 2005.
The seven-percentage-point "favorability advantage" that the Democratic Party now enjoys over its Republican rivals is in line with the average six-point Democratic gap measured since 1992.
However, Americans have sometimes held a much more positive view of one party than the other. Often, lopsided favorable ratings for one party occurred around times of great upheaval at the ballot box or other significant political events. The Democratic Party held a 26-point favorability advantage over the Republican Party -- the largest gap measured in Gallup's trend -- in December 1998, which was likely a backlash against the then-ongoing impeachment proceedings against the otherwise popular President Bill Clinton. Democrats also held a large favorability advantage over Republicans after Democrats took control of Congress in 2006 and captured the White House in 2008.
The Republicans' largest advantages in favorable ratings over the Democratic Party have been far more modest by comparison -- the highest being a 10-point edge in February 2005, just after Republican President Bush was re-elected and the Republicans firmly controlled Congress.
Americans continue to view the Republican Party less favorably than the Democratic Party, but neither party musters a positive image among a majority of Americans. The Democrats' current favorability lead over the Republicans is not unusual historically, and hardly assures a pending Democratic wave in 2014. Republicans had even lower favorability ratings in surveys shortly after the 2008 presidential election, but regained their footing over the ensuing two years and routed the Democrats in the 2010 congressional elections.
More broadly speaking, these depressed favorability ratings appear to be a continuation of a longer trend that has seen Americans sour on the two parties. With the exception of one instance right after the November 2012 elections, neither party has had a majority favorable rating since August 2009, and the favorable ratings of the two parties are below their historical averages. Meanwhile, about a fifth of Americans disapprove of both parties.
Even amid this backdrop, it is not clear that a new political party could coalesce the dissatisfied and credibly challenge the major parties. More likely, should these low political party favorable ratings continue, the result may be declining voter participation rates -- as in the presidential contest of 2012, which had lower turnout rates than the presidential elections of 2004 and 2008.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 1-4, 2013, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 1,529 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, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cellphone numbers are selected using random digit dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.
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.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.