A new USA Today/Gallup poll finds that the public has a net positive rating of the Republican Party for the first time since 2005.
Forty-seven percent of respondents said that they had a favorable view of the GOP, while 43 percent said they had an unfavorable view. Since late in 2005, Gallup has rarely found the party with an unfavorable rating below 50 percent.
In spite of the landslide Republican victory in November's midterm elections, the Gallup poll never showed the party with a positive rating in 2010. Even in November, Gallup found the party with an unfavorable rating by a margin of 5 percentage points (compared to a 9-point negative rating for Democrats).
By contrast, in November of 2006, a Democratic landslide year, Dems had net positive rating with a 14-point margin.
The new poll found that slightly more respondents had an unfavorable view of the Democratic Party than a favorable view (47 percent unfavorable to 46 percent favorable, well within the poll's margin of error). That marks an improvement for Democrats over their margins throughout 2010, when each Gallup poll found the party with a net unfavorable rating by 9 percentage points. As Gallup's Jeffrey Jones points out, however, the Democratic rating is still among the lowest in Gallup's polls since 1992.
As the Gallup poll's trend data shows, public views of the parties can shift quickly. As recently as May of last year, Gallup found that only 36 percent of Americans had a positive view of the Republican Party while 58 percent had a negative view, for a net rating of -16.
The new poll was conducted Jan. 14-16 among a sample of 1,032 adults, with a margin of error of 4 percentage points.