Party preference among voters swings 14 points toward the Republican Party ahead of midterms

Comes as Democrats try to defend their thin majorities in the House and Senate

Eric Garcia
Monday 17 January 2022 19:52
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A new survey from Gallup shows that Americans’ party preferences swung 14 points toward the Republican Party as Democrats attempt to protect their majorities in the House and Senate in November.

Gallup conducted telephone interviews with 12,416 Americans who were at least 18 years old and combined data from 13 separate polls between January and December of 2021. The margin of error is one percentage point.

At the beginning of 2021, 49 per cent of Americans identified as Democrats or leaned that way compared with 40 per cent of Americans who identified as Republicans or leaned that way. But by the end of 2021, 47 per cent of Americans preferred the GOP and 42 per cent identified with or leaned toward the Democratic Party.

The swing is among the largest that Gallup has registered since it began to measure party identification in 1991.

Gallup found that the changes happened as President Joe Biden’s approval ratings nosedived. Mr Biden enjoyed high approval ratings in the first half of 2021 as Americans received vaccines. But his approval ratings took a hit in the summer with the spread of the Delta variant and slid further as the withdrawal in Afghanistan coincided with the Afghan government’s fall to the Taliban and the deaths of 13 US service members.

Mr Biden’s numbers continue to remain low as cases of the new Omicron variant surge and inflation remains high.

But the biggest shifts occurred among independent voters who lean one way or the other. The decline in voters who identified as Democratic dropped by only two percentage points, while Democratic-leaning independent voters dropped by five percentage points. Conversely, identification with the GOP increased by three points but leaners increased by four percentage points.

The survey also found that independent voters remain the largest voting bloc in the United States. While 29 per cent of voters identify with the Democratic party and 27 per cent identify as Republicans, 42 per cent of Americans identify as independents. Among that subset, 17 per cent lean toward the Democratic Party and 16 per cent lean toward the Republican Party.

The numbers are a boon for Republicans as they plan to win back a majority in both the House, where Democrats maintain a small majority, and the Senate, where Republicans need to net only one seat to break the 50-50 tie in the upper chamber. The president’s party typically loses majorities in Congress, as was the case with presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

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