Americans continue to view Democrats as more favorably than Republicans, although both parties have net unfavorable ratings, according to the latest Gallup survey conducted April 24-30.
Opinions of Democrats — about 44% positive — have remained somewhat steady since June, while Republican numbers — 34% positive — have increased slightly from last year’s all-time low of 28%, during the federal government shutdown of October 2013.
It is important to note that if these rates remain stable and favorability ratings hold where they are, it will represent the lowest numbers ever for either party going into an election year.
For the GOP, the net favorability gap of -25 points — 34% positive to 59% negative — has been part of a regular negative trend since April 2011, writes Gallup’s Andrew Dugan. In fact, the downward slide in popularity began in October 2005, during the second term of George W. Bush, and Republicans have suffered from low positive or mostly negative scores ever since. Prior to that, the only negative favorability numbers were during the late 1998-early 1999, highlighted by the impeachment vote and subsequent Senate trial of president Bill Clinton.
On the other hand, Democrats enjoy a much smaller net unfavorably index of -6 – 44% favorable to 50% unfavorable — with an overall unfavorable ranking in five consecutive polls, dating back to June 2013.
Democratic popularity wavered throughout the Obama presidency, with alternating periods of positivity in 2009 and late 2012, and negativity, as in 2010 and 2011. Prior to Obama’s election, the party had been seen mostly favorable, including a net 15 point positive rating from 1992 through 2008. During that time, Democrats held the White House and Congress less than half the time.
The last time both parties had a net favorable rating was July 2005.
Even with a slight Democratic lead over Republicans in favorability, there is no guarantee it will translate to success at the polls in the 2014 midterms. Dugan points out that there were many instances where the more popular party failed to capture votes, including Bush’s 2004 re-election and 2010, when Republicans took control of the House and picked up six seats in the Senate.
Democrats may hold a slender lead over the GOP, but both parties are underwater when it comes to net favorability. Since neither party is seen positively suggests a range of difficulties both will have in garnering support this November.
Republicans may have greater reason for concern, Dugan writes. If the numbers stay at current levels, it is the lowest favorability rating ever going into an election year. With an ambitious goal of reclaiming a Senate majority these low numbers could represent a harsh reality.
The Gallup survey conducted telephone interviews April 24-30, using a random sample of 1,513 adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error is+/- 3 percentage points with a 95% confidence level.