As Republican Party affiliation slips to its lowest level in nearly a decade, Americans who count themselves as Democrats is spiking, according to a Gallup tracking poll of this year’s first quarter.
Gallup found 49% of people identified as either Democrats or independents who lean Democratic in the first quarter, while just 40% identified as Republican or independent leaners toward the GOP.
It’s not uncommon for a party to rise in popularity following electoral victories, such as Joe Biden’s win last November. Democrats have also seen bigger advantages, most recently toward the end of George W. Bush’s presidency from 2006-2009 when the disparity spiked to 53% Democratic, 39% Republican. Republicans are also almost perennially more unpopular than Democrats.
The number of independents and independent leaners have also increased more than a handful of points since last quarter to 44%, up from 38% at the end of 2020. A disproportionate amount of that increase has come from the Republican side, though Gallup notes it is common for major-party affiliation to increase in presidential election years and then decrease in off-year cycles.
That said, party affiliation can coincide with electoral success. Democrats, for instance, held a nine-point edge in the last quarter of 2012 when President Obama was reelected.
Still Republicans are facing their largest deficit to Democrats since 2018. Gallup notes that they surely would be hoping to recreate their 2014 midterm success, when they recovered from their 2012-2013 deficits to regain control of the Senate.
In that respect, the popularity of President Biden and the success of his legislative initiatives certainly have a role to play, though the scope of that role and in which direction it points remains to be seen.