Republicans saw a larger number of voters identify with the party at the end of 2021, compared to the start of the year, while fewer voters leaned toward the Democrats, according to Gallup surveys.
The GOP started the year with 40 percent of those surveyed identifying as “Republican” or “lean Republican,” a deficit of 9 percent from voters who identified with the left. However, as the year wore on, more voters began identifying with the right, while a lower number identified as “Democrat” or “lean Democratic.”
By the end of the year, 47 percent of voters surveyed identified with the right, compared to 42 percent who identified with the left.
The remaining voters identified as a “non-leaning independent.”
The results, published by Gallup on Jan. 17, were drawn from all phone surveys the polling firm conducted during the year, including interviews with more than 12,000 American adults.
The last time Republicans held a five-point advantage was in 1995, while Democrats have enjoyed double-digit advantages in multiple quarters since then, including a strong run between 2006 and 2009.
Gallup attributed the drop in Democratic support to plunging approval ratings for President Joe Biden, who has repeatedly been stymied by Congress and the courts while trying to enact a radical agenda that includes COVID-19 vaccine mandates and federalizing elections.
While the GOP saw an advantage in the fourth quarter of 2021, information from December pointed to the gap between parties narrowing, with only 2 percentage points separating them, according to Gallup.
“The final monthly survey of 2021 showed the parties at roughly even strength, although that still represents a departure from the historical norm of the Democratic Party’s having at least a slight advantage in party affiliation,” Gallup said.
Independents still comprise the largest group of voters in the country, with 42 percent of those surveyed in the fourth quarter describing themselves as independent, whether leaning toward a party or not.
The number of voters identifying as independent has grown over the years, staying near or above 40 percent of those surveyed since 2011. Identification with either party without the independent label has dropped for both parties.
The poll portends good news for Republicans in the 2022 midterm elections, which party leaders hope will see them flip control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Recent polls on the generic congressional vote show Republicans slightly ahead, but similar to the Gallup surveys, the GOP has seen its prospects jump over recent months while Democrats have seen a drop in generic support.