Americans are less likely to identify with the Republican Party than they were in November, according to new data from Gallup, giving Democrats what the pollster calls “an encouraging sign” for the 2018 elections.
Forty-five percent of adults now identify as Democrats or say they lean toward that party, while 38 percent identify with or lean toward the GOP. That’s a 7-point gap in the Democrats’ favor. Last summer and fall, Democrats averaged just a 3-point edge, Gallup found.
The shift is mostly due to a falloff in GOP affinity. The Democratic numbers have remained relatively stable, while Americans have grown somewhat likelier to say they don’t feel tied to either party.
Party affiliation tends to be “sticky,” but it’s not permanent. About one-tenth of Republicans and Democrats, including those who describe themselves as leaning toward one side or other, switched parties during the past year, according to a recent Pew Research report.
If the Democrats’ current edge holds, it’s likely to be good news for the party, which traditionally has more difficulty than the GOP in turning out voters during midterm elections.
“Party identification and political independents’ party leanings are major predictors of individual vote choice,” Gallup’s Jeffrey M. Jones wrote. “The current seven-point Democratic edge in party affiliation is similar to what it was in 1998 and 2006, the two strongest Democratic years among the most recent midterm elections.”
Democrats are also well ahead in early “generic ballot” polls, which ask people which party they’d prefer to support in a congressional election.
“[T]he generic ballot, even this early in a midterm cycle, can be quite predictive of the outcome of the following year’s House elections,” FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten wrote on Monday. He noted that “the generic ballot shows the Democrats in a stronger position at this point in a midterm election cycle than any party without control of the House since 1942. That’s about all a minority party can ask for at this point.”
MORE OF THE LATEST POLLING NEWS:
FEW SUPPORT LEAVING THE PARIS AGREEMENT - Between 28 percent and 38 percent of the public supports President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Numbers and more on each survey’s findings below:
Reactions are increasingly polarized - HuffPollster, on the HuffPost/YouGov survey: “Before the White House had taken an official stance on the issue, 31 percent of Trump voters favored staying in the agreement. Now, with polling on the agreement also partially a referendum on the president’s performance, views are more strongly split along political lines. Just 11 percent of Trump voters ― in contrast with 88 percent of voters who backed Hillary Clinton ― now say they disapprove of the decision to withdraw. ... Seventy percent of Clinton voters say they’re very concerned about climate change, a view shared by only 8 percent of Trump voters and barely over a quarter of those who didn’t vote or supported a third party. [HuffPost]
Few expect economic benefits - Scott Clement and Brady Dennis, on the Washington Post/ABC survey: “The survey also finds broad skepticism toward Trump’s argument that leaving the Paris agreement will benefit the U.S. economy. While 32 percent of respondents say his action will help the nation’s economy, 42 percent say it will hurt and 20 percent say it will make no difference. On a separate question, slightly more people surveyed say that exiting the climate accord will cost jobs, such as those in renewable energy, than it will create jobs in traditional energy sectors such as coal, oil and gas.” [WashPost]
Americans want “aggressive action” on the environment, but don’t call it a priority - Chris Kahn, on the Reuters/Ipsos survey: “The poll found 68 percent of Americans want the United States to lead global efforts to slow climate change, and 72 percent agree ‘that given the amount of greenhouse gases that it produces, the United States should take aggressive action to slow global warming.’ ... Even so, Americans rank the environment near the bottom of their list of priorities for the country. Only about 4 percent of Americans believe that the ‘environment’ is a bigger issue than healthcare, the economy, terrorism, immigration, education, crime and morality, Reuters/Ipsos polling shows.” [Reuters]
CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS MAY HAVE LOST THEIR EDGE ON HEALTH CARE - Cameron Easley: “Congressional Republicans have stumbled somewhat coming out of the gate in 2017, and Morning Consult polling indicates the American people are starting to lose faith in their ability to govern. Weekly tracking surveys from early March into late May show that registered voters are moving away from Republicans — and toward Democrats — on a number of policy issues. The biggest swings came on two subjects that are consistently among the highest priorities for Americans when it comes to how they decide to cast their vote for candidates running for office: health care and the economy.” [Morning Consult]
‘OUTLIERS’ ― Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data
-Jonathan M. Ladd examines negative partisanship through the lens of the 2016 election. [Vox]
-Dan Cassino argues that President Trump’s tweet storms are hurting his approval rating. [@DanCassino]
-Nicholas Carnes and Noam Lupu “bust the myth” that white working class voters made up most of Trump’s voter base. [WashPost]
-Nate Silver asks whether U.K. polling is skewed. 
-Jacob Poushter reviews the U.K.’s feelings on Brexit. [Pew]
-Walter R. Mebane Jr. and Matthew Bernhard find no evidence that vote counts in Michigan or Wisconsin were hacked. [WashPost]
-Millennials don’t love avocados more than anyone else does. [HuffPost]
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