Democrats' Image Surpasses GOP in Recent Poll

by Lydia Saad

Republican Party's decline parallels Bush's

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- The Democratic Party has a clear upper hand with Americans in the image department today, as an April 28-30, 2006 USA Today/Gallup poll finds Democrats with a 12-point edge over the Republicans in the percentages viewing each party favorably. This is a change from December 2005 when the parties were viewed about the same, and is mostly due to a decline in favorable views of the Republican Party -- closely mirroring the downturn in public approval of President Bush during the same period.

At the same time, neither party enjoys a strongly favorable image, or is given a whole lot of credit for the way it is handling the nation's business. Fewer than half of Americans think either the Republican or Democratic Party is offering solutions to the nation's problems, or is working in a bipartisan manner to get things done in Washington.

Party Images Follow Different Paths

Americans today are about evenly divided in their views of the Democratic Party, with 48% holding a favorable view of it, and 45% an unfavorable view. Perceptions of the Republican Party are decidedly negative, with only 36% viewing it favorably and 58% unfavorably.

Favorable views of the two major parties were fairly steady between January 2003 and February 2005. In this period, positive ratings of both parties typically ranged between 47% and 55%, with a one-time rating of 59% for the Democrats in January 2004 (immediately following the New Hampshire Democratic primary), and a one-time rating of 56% for the Republicans (shortly after the start of the Iraq War).

However, since February 2005, support for the Republican Party has steadily declined, while support for the Democrats has continued to hold steady.

In recent years, public perceptions of the Republican Party have been tethered to the popularity of President George W. Bush. In fact, since January 2004, GOP favorable ratings and Bush's job approval rating have been nearly identical. Thus, the latest decline in Republican favorability since December is linked to the decline in Bush approval during the same period.

Failing Grade for Leadership of Both Parties

The Republican Party is generally perceived as staying true to its core Republican values -- 59% of Americans, including 80% of Republicans, say it is doing a good job of this -- but beyond this, the GOP gets poor marks for doing the people's business in Washington.

Fewer than half of Americans say the Republican Party is doing a good or very good job of providing leadership for the country, either through the presidency and executive branch, or through Congress. Just one-third applaud the job the party is doing in managing the Iraq war or in offering solutions to the major issues facing the country. Even fewer offer praise for the Republicans' efforts to work with the Democrats in Washington, or to deal with corruption in government.

Rating the Job the Republican Party is Doing

Very good/ Good

Very poor/ Poor

%

%

Staying true to core Republican values

59

36

Providing leadership from the presidency and executive branch

43

55

Providing leadership from Congress

42

56

Managing the war in Iraq

34

64

Offering solutions to the most important issues facing the nation

33

64

Putting country's interests ahead of their own political interests

28

70

Working with the Democrats in Washington to get things done

27

70

Dealing with corruption in government

26

72

The picture is only slightly less bleak for the Democrats. Apart from saying they stay true to Democratic values, Americans are mostly critical of the Democrats' policy initiatives, as well as their bipartisan spirit, ability to rise above politics, and efforts to deal with corruption.

Rating the Job the Republican Party is Doing

Very good/ Good

Very poor/ Poor

%

%

Staying true to core Democratic values

61

36

Offering solutions to the most important issues facing the nation

42

57

Putting country's interests ahead of their own political interests

37

61

Dealing with corruption in government

32

64

Working with the Republicans in Washington to get things done

31

66

On a comparative basis, Democrats are rated somewhat higher than Republicans for offering solutions to the nation's problems (42% rate the Democrats as doing a good job on this, versus 33% for Republicans), as well as for putting the country's interests ahead of politics (37% vs. 28%). Democrats have a slight edge in terms of working with the opposing party to get things done and dealing with corruption.

Party Faithful Mostly Stand by Their Party Leadership

Naturally, Republicans are much more positive than Democrats in their evaluations of the Republican Party. A majority of Republicans think the GOP is doing a good job in all of these areas, except for working with the Democrats in Washington. On this dimension, only 49% say the Republicans are doing a good job; 50% say they are doing a bad job.

Democrats, too, tend to be praiseworthy of their own party's leadership, but to a lesser degree than the Republicans are of their leadership. Just 70% of Democrats say that the Democratic Party is staying true to core Democratic values -- compared with 80% of Republicans who say this about the Republican Party. A majority of Democrats think their own party is doing a good job offering solutions to problems and putting the country's interests ahead of politics, but fewer than half praise the party for dealing with corruption or for cooperating with the Republicans in Washington.

Republicans' views of Republican Party

Democrats' views of Democratic Party

%

%

Staying true to core Republican/Democratic values

80

70

Offering solutions to the most important issues facing the nation

69

58

Putting country's interests ahead of their own political interests

60

55

Dealing with corruption in government

52

46

Working with the Democrats/Republicans in Washington to get things done

49

39

Independents tend to believe the Republican and Democratic parties are staying true to their respective core values (52% say this about each party), but they are mostly negative about the parties on other dimensions. On a relative basis, they are more likely to credit the Democrats than the Republicans with offering solutions to problems and putting the country's interests ahead of politics, but fewer than 4 in 10 independents say the Democrats are doing a good job at these.

Independents' views of Republican Party

Independents' views of Democratic Party

%

%

Staying true to core Republican/Democratic values

52

52

Offering solutions to the most important issues facing the nation

18

37

Putting country's interests ahead of their own political interests

14

31

Dealing with corruption in government

16

23

Working with the Democrats/Republicans in Washington to get things done

19

29

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,011 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted April 28-30, 2006. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points.

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.

6. Next, we'd like to get your overall opinion of some people in the news. As I read each name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of these people -- or if you have never heard of them. First, ... How about... [ITEM A READ, THEN ITEMS B-D ROTATED, THEN ITEM E-F ROTATED]

E. The Republican Party

Favor
able

Un
favor
able

Never heard of

No opin.

Favor
able

Un
favor
able

Never heard of

No opin.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Apr 28-30

36

58

*

5

2002 Jul 26-28

55

36

*

9

2002 Jan 11-14

61

30

*

9

2005 Dec 16-18

45

48

*

7

2001 Sep 7-10

47

48

*

5

2005 Oct 13-16

40

50

2

8

2000 Nov 13-15

49

43

*

8

2005 Sep 8-11

45

45

1

9

2000 Aug 4-5

54

37

1

8

2005 Jul 22-24

46

45

1

8

2000 Jul 25-26

49

39

*

12

2005 Apr 1-2

50

44

1

5

2000 Jan 7-10

53

41

*

6

2005 Feb 25-27

51

42

1

6

1999 Nov 18-21

50

44

*

6

2005 Feb 4-6

56

39

1

4

1999 Apr 30-May 2

47

44

*

9

2004 Sep 13-15

55

41

*

4

1999 Feb 19-21

45

46

--

9

2004 Sep 3-5

53

40

*

7

1999 Feb 12-13

40

54

1

5

2004 Aug 23-25 ^

50

41

1

8

1999 Feb 4-8

45

47

*

8

2004 Jul 30-Aug 1

47

45

1

7

1999 Jan 8-10

40

52

*

8

2004 Jul 19-21 ^

50

43

*

7

1998 Dec 19-20

31

57

*

12

2004 Jan 29-Feb 1

48

45

*

7

1998 Dec 15-16

43

47

2

8

2004 Jan 2-5

52

40

1

7

1997 Oct 27-29

50

42

*

8

2003 Sep 8-10

50

44

--

6

1996 Aug 30-Sep 1 †

50

45

*

5

2003 Mar 29-30

56

33

1

10

1996 Aug 16-18 †

55

41

1

2

2003 Jan 3-5

51

38

1

10

1996 Aug 5-7 †

51

44

*

5

2002 Dec 16-17

51

38

1

10

1996 Apr 9-10

52

41

*

7

2002 Nov 8-10

54

38

*

8

1995 Apr 17-19

52

42

*

6

2002 Oct 21-22

53

35

*

12

1992 Jul 6-8 †

53

39

*

8

2002 Sep 5-8

54

40

--

6

^ Asked of a half sample.

† Based on registered voters.

* Less than 0.5%

F. The Democratic Party

Favor
able

Un
favor
able

Never heard of

No opin.

Favor
able

Un
favor

able

Never heard of

No opin.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Apr 28-30

48

45

*

8

2002 Jul 26-28

55

34

*

11

2002 Jan 11-14

55

33

*

12

2005 Dec 16-18

46

45

*

9

2001 Sep 7-10

56

38

*

6

2005 Oct 13-16

52

36

2

10

2000 Nov 13-15

53

38

1

8

2005 Sep 8-11

47

41

1

11

2000 Aug 4-5

53

38

1

8

2005 Jul 22-24

52

38

1

9

2000 Jul 25-26

56

35

*

9

2005 Apr 1-2

50

42

*

8

2000 Jan 7-10

61

33

*

6

2005 Feb 25-27

52

41

1

6

1999 Nov 18-21

51

41

*

8

2005 Feb 4-6

46

47

*

7

1999 Apr 30-May 2

53

37

1

9

2004 Sep 13-15

49

45

--

6

1999 Feb 19-21

55

37

0

8

2004 Sep 3-5

50

41

*

9

1999 Feb 12-13

56

38

*

6

2004 Aug 23-25 ^

54

36

1

9

1999 Feb 4-8

57

37

*

6

2004 Jul 30-Aug 1

55

37

1

7

1999 Jan 8-10

57

35

*

8

2004 Jul 19-21 ^

48

41

1

10

1998 Dec 19-20

57

30

*

13

2004 Jan 29-Feb 1

59

34

*

7

1998 Dec 15-16

58

32

2

8

2004 Jan 2-5

47

44

*

9

1997 Oct 27-29

54

39

*

7

2003 Sep 8-10

49

45

--

6

1996 Aug 30-Sep 1 †

60

36

*

4

2003 Mar 29-30

49

39

1

11

1996 Aug 16-18 †

55

41

1

3

2003 Jan 3-5

52

36

1

11

1996 Aug 5-7 †

57

38

1

4

2002 Dec 16-17

52

37

1

10

1996 Apr 9-10

55

38

0

7

2002 Nov 8-10

48

42

0

10

1995 Apr 17-19

51

43

*

6

2002 Oct 21-22

58

30

*

12

1992 Jul 6-8 †

54

38

*

8

2002 Sep 5-8

56

38

0

6

^ Asked of a half sample.

† Based on registered voters.

* Less than 0.5%

29. How would you rate the job the Republican Party is doing on each of the following - [ROTATED: very good, good, poor, (or) very poor]. How about - [RANDOM ORDER]?

A. Dealing with corruption in government

Very good

Good

Poor

Very poor

No opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Apr 28-30

2

24

48

24

3

B. Staying true to core Republican values

Very good

Good

Poor

Very poor

No opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Apr 28-30

10

49

26

10

5

C. Providing leadership from the presidency and executive branch

Very good

Good

Poor

Very poor

No opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Apr 28-30

5

38

35

20

2

D. Providing leadership from Congress

Very good

Good

Poor

Very poor

No opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Apr 28-30

4

38

40

16

3

E. Offering solutions to the most important issues facing the nation

Very good

Good

Poor

Very poor

No opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Apr 28-30

4

29

42

22

2

F. Managing the war in Iraq

Very good

Good

Poor

Very poor

No opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Apr 28-30

5

29

34

30

2

G. Working with the Democrats in Washington to get things done

Very good

Good

Poor

Very poor

No opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Apr 28-30

3

24

48

22

2

H. Putting the country's interests ahead of their own political interests

Very good

Good

Poor

Very poor

No opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Apr 28-30

5

23

44

26

2

30. How would you rate the job the Democratic Party is doing on each of the following - [ROTATED: very good, good, poor, (or) very poor]. How about - [RANDOM ORDER]?

A. Dealing with corruption in government

Very good

Good

Poor

Very poor

No opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Apr 28-30

3

29

51

13

3

B. Staying true to core Democratic values

Very good

Good

Poor

Very poor

No opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Apr 28-30

10

51

28

8

3

C. Working with the Republicans in Washington to get things done

Very good

Good

Poor

Very poor

No opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Apr 28-30

4

27

47

19

3

D. Offering solutions to the most important issues facing the nation

Very good

Good

Poor

Very poor

No opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Apr 28-30

5

37

44

13

2

E. Putting the country's interests ahead of their own political interests

Very good

Good

Poor

Very poor

No opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2006 Apr 28-30

6

31

45

16

2

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