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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 15, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 03
Democratic, Republican Party brands in the toilet
New Gallup poll shows lowest party ID in 30 years
Section One
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Democratic, Republican Party brands in the toilet
New Gallup poll shows lowest party ID in 30 years

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Voter identification with one of the two major political parties is at its lowest point ever, according to a new Gallup poll released January 11.

The Democratic Party is at its lowest point ever, since Gallup started phone-polling the question in 1988, and the GOP is only one point ahead of its historic low.

According to Gallup's results for 2015, only 29% of the electorate identifies with the Democratic Party, down from their previous low (30%) in 2014.

On the Republican side, an even smaller proportion - 26% - identifies with the GOP. Their lowest point came in 2013, when 25% of the electorate said they were Republicans.

Self-identified 'independents' came in at 42%, just down from their peak of 43% in 2014.

Democrats maintained their lead over Republicans when independents were factored in according to their leanings.

'Although political independents lack a strong enough attachment to either party to say they identify as a Republican or a Democrat, most are inclined to favor one party over the other and generally vote that way,' Gallup said in its analysis of its poll results.

Of the independents, half said they leaned toward the Democratic Party, and the other half leaned Republican, giving Democrats an approximate voting strength of 45% compared to the Republicans' 42%.

'Americans' attachment to the two major political parties in recent years is arguably the weakest Gallup has recorded since the advent of its polls,' Gallup said. 'The percentage of U.S. adults identifying as political independents has recently reached levels never seen before.'

For its 2015 poll, Gallup phoned a random sample of 12,137 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error for this poll is one point.

Before 1988 Gallup did in-person (as opposed to phone) interviews, but according to data spanning 1951-1987, there was never a year in which less than 37% of their respondents identified as Democrats. During that period, there were several years in which Republicans polled at less than 25%.

In 1991, just after President George H.W. Bush led the successful Persian Gulf War effort, Republicans had the advantage in party affiliation. In four other years - 2002, 2003, 2010, and 2011 - the parties were essentially even.

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