Why things might not be as bad as they look for Republicans — in 3 charts

January 9, 2013

Republicans are having a tough time. Losing an election isn't fun (especially when you thought you had a good chance) and the party now has to deal with some demographic challenges that could determine its long-term viability.

But it could be worse.

Specifically, Republicans could be hemorrhaging voters to the Democrats. But as Washington Post/ABC News polling data and new Gallup numbers show, that's not entirely the case.

This graph, based on Post-ABC data, actually shows party ID has remained largely static over the past three years.


In fact, the GOP's disadvantage is about where it was in 2010, when the party made huge gains, and the party is in slightly better shape than it was in the late part of the last decade.

That reality becomes even more evident when you consider which way independents lean. Adding Democratic-leaning independents to the Democrats' column and GOP-leaning independents to the Republican side gives Democrats a 47 percent-to-39 percent advantage.

That sounds like a lot, but it's actually less than it was between 2005 and 2009, and the same as it was during the GOP wave year of 2010.

Party ID

Gallup put out its own party ID numbers today, and in contrast to the Post-ABC numbers, they show the GOP losing some ground over the past three years.

But even Gallup shows the GOP in a better position than it was for the second half of President Bush's term and also for much of the 1990s.


The fact is that Republicans have long fought a losing battle when it comes to party ID, and a 5-point deficit isn't all that bad when you look at recent history.

Will it get worse for the GOP? It could, and that remains to be seen. But we're hardly talking about a party that is seeing its base disintegrate.

And the two years between now and the 2014 elections, to repeat The Fix's favorite cliche, is a very long time in politics.

Scott Clement contributed to this post.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Sean Sullivan · January 9, 2013