THE BLOG
02/26/2013 05:19 pm ET Updated Apr 28, 2013

Pew Poll Offers Insight On Republican Party Image At Historic Low

Today's Pew Poll gives more context for the January 2013 finding that only 33% - compared to the high of 56% in January 2001 - now view the Republican Party favorably. 46% view the Democratic Party favorably. (62% viewed the Democratic Party favorably at that Party's high, which occurred in January 2008.)

Only 22% of the 1,504 surveyed respondents self-identify as "Republican" - also a new low. 32% self-identify as "Democrat," the historically normal percentage. 41% - a new high - self-identify as "Independent." The major change in self-identification has been former "Republicans" switching to "Independent." There has been no perceptible switch from "Independent" to "Democrat."

In the new poll, 62% said that the Republican Party is "Out of touch with the American people," 52% said it is "Too extreme," and only 39% said it is "Open to change." However, in a similar CNN/Gallup Poll in February 1999, those figures were, respectively, 60%, 56%, and 39%; so there have been virtually no changes on those parameters, since 1999.

These numbers may indicate that in January 2001, when George W. Bush first entered the White House, Americans didn't mind that Republicans were "Out of touch with the American people," "Too extreme," and not "Open to change," but they do now. Perhaps what has changed in the public's perceptions of the Republican Party isn't so much the party as what the public wants.

Today's poll also finds that 46% consider the Democratic Party "Out of touch with the American people," 39% consider it "Too extreme," and 58% consider it "Open to change."

Slightly more respondents hold that the Republican Party has "Strong principles" than that the Democratic Party does. That question was not included in the 1999 CNN/Gallup Poll.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They"re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST"S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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