President Joe Biden’s unpopularity has driven U.S. adults over to the Republican Party.
In the last few months, as Biden’s approval rating has sunk to as low as 33%, the party voters identify with has shifted a remarkable 14 points in the fourth quarter, from Democrats leading by 9 points to the GOP ahead by 5.
Democrats generally always lead Republicans in party identification, and independents outnumber both. By the end of December, the gap had shrunk, and even Gallup said the shift was notable.
“The year 2021 was an eventful one in politics, after a similarly eventful 2020 that also saw major shifts in party preferences. In early 2021, Democratic strength reached levels not seen in nearly a decade. By the third quarter, those Democratic gains evaporated as Biden’s job approval declined. The political winds continued to become more favorable to Republicans in the fourth quarter, giving the GOP an advantage over Democrats larger than any they had achieved in more than 25 years,” Gallup wrote in its analysis.
“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.”
“With control of the House of Representatives and Senate at stake in this year’s midterm elections, party preferences will be a key indicator of which party will be better positioned to gain majorities in the next session of Congress,” the analysis added.
Gallup has asked a party preference question since 1991. Typically, Democrats hold a big advantage. Shifts change when presidents are elected and their popularity spikes — or tanks.
The pollster said Biden’s current unpopularity could be blamed on the surge of COVID-19 cases and the president’s “chaotic withdrawal” from Afghanistan.
“In the fourth quarter, party support flipped as Republicans made gains, from 44% to 47%, and Democratic affiliation fell from 45% to 42%. These fourth-quarter shifts coincided with strong GOP performances in 2021 elections, including a Republican victory in the Virginia gubernatorial election and a near-upset of the Democratic incumbent governor in New Jersey,” Gallup stated. “Biden won both states by double digits in the 2020 election.”