For the second month in a row, the number of Americans who identify themselves as Democrats has fallen to a record low — and to the smallest percentage of Democrats recorded in nearly eight years of monthly tracking.
In September, 34.6 percent of American adults identified themselves as Democrats. That’s down nearly half a percentage point from a month ago, a full percentage point from two months ago.
At the same time, the number of Republicans slipped from 33.8 percent in August to 33.1 percent last month.
The number of adults not affiliated with either major party is now at 32.3 percent.
As has been the case in every month during the past eight years of tracking, there are more Democrats than Republicans in the nation. The gap is 1.5 percentage points. That’s up from a 1.2-percentage-point gap a month ago. The past two months are the closest the Republicans have been to parity in more than five years — since July 2005.
Things were much better for Democrats heading into the two most recent election cycles. In September 2006, they enjoyed a 4.8-percentage-point advantage. In September 2008, the gap was 5.6 percentage points.
However, things aren’t quite as rosy for the Republicans as they were in September 2004. Heading into the presidential election that year, the Democrats had a 0.6-percentage-point advantage. That was the best single month ever recorded for the GOP.
Rasmussen Reports tracks this information based on telephone interviews with about 15,000 adults a month and has been doing so since November 2002. The margin of error for the full sample is less than one percentage point, with a 95 percent level of confidence.
Compared with one year ago, the number of Democrats is down three percentage points, and the number of Republicans is up a point. Compared with September 2008, the number of Democrats is down four percentage points, and the number of Republicans is little changed.
The biggest advantage ever measured for Democrats was 10.1 percentage points in May 2008. In December 2008, the final full month of the Bush administration, the Democrats held an 8.8-percentage-point advantage.
Between November 2004 and 2006, the Democratic advantage in partisan identification grew by 4.5 percentage points. That foreshadowed the Democrats' big gains in the 2006 midterm elections. The gap grew by another 1.5 percentage points between November 2006 and November 2008 leading up to Barack Obama's election.
The number of Democrats peaked at 41.7 percent in May 2008, and it was nearly as high — at 41.6 percent — in December 2008. The number of Democrats fell below the 40 percent mark in March 2009 and first fell below 36 percent in December of last year. Rasmussen Reports has been tracking this data monthly since November 2002.
Before this month’s data, the lowest level of identification with the Democrats has been 35.1 percent. It was reached twice, in February and May of this year.
For Republicans, the peak was way back in September 2004 at 37.3 percent. For nearly five years, since late 2005, the number of Republicans has generally stayed between 31 percent and 34 percent of the nation’s adults.
Keep in mind that figures reported in this survey are for all adults, not likely voters. Republicans are a bit more likely to participate in elections than Democrats.
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