The political preferences among Americans shifted from Democratic to Republican over the course of 2021, according to a new Gallup survey, mirroring the popularity of President Biden and former President Trump.
In the first quarter of last year, 49 percent of Americans said they identified as a Democrat or a lean-Democratic independent, while 40 percent said they were a Republican or a lean-Republican independent, pollsters found. This marked the largest lead Democrats had over the GOP since 2012, when the left led the right by 9 points, the survey giant noted.
But over the course of the year, the percentage of those identifying with the left started to decrease, while more people began to align themselves with the right.
The percentage of Americans who identified as Democrats or lean-Democratic independents remained steady at 49 percent in the second quarter, while more Americans said they were Republicans or lean-Republican independents, increasing from 40 percent to 43 percent.
Democrats saw a drop of 4 percentage points in the third quarter, falling to 45 percent, while Republicans continued to increase their base, gaining 1 more percentage point to bring them to 44 percent.
By the fourth quarter of last year, more Americans said they identified with the right compared to the left, 47 percent to 42 percent.
The shift in the political affiliations of Americans followed a similar pattern as the popularity of Trump and Biden over the course of 2021, Gallup noted. Biden entered office in January 2021 with a strong approval rating, which slowly decreased amid a surge of COVID-19 cases driven by the delta and omicron variants, the messy withdrawal from Afghanistan and rising inflation.
Comparatively, Trump started 2021 with low approval ratings after weeks of refusing to recognize the results of the 2020 presidential election and amid the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
Gallup noted, however, that the Republican Party’s advantage over Democrats in the U.S. appears to be tapering off, as the polling group found that the GOP currently has just a 2 percent point lead over Democrats, 46 percent to 44 percent.
The Gallup numbers provide a look at the U.S. as the country prepares for November’s midterm elections, when Democrats and Republicans are both looking to secure control of Congress next year after two years of razor-thin margins.
Gallup polled 12,000 randomly sampled U.S. adults throughout 2021. The margin of sampling error is 1 percentage point.