The number of Republicans and Democrats in the country is just about even. In fact, the gap between the parties is the smallest it has ever been in nearly nine years of monthly tracking, according to Rasmussen Reports.
During the month of September, 33.9 percent of Americans considered themselves to be Republicans while 33.7 percent consider themselves Democrats. For both parties, those numbers are up less than a single percentage point from August. As a result, the number of voters not affiliated with either party fell from an all time high of 33.5 percent in August back to 32.4 percent in September.
During 2011, the gap between the two parties has been less than a full percentage point in five out of nine months. Each party has twice led by margins greater than one percentage point but never as big as a two percentage point gap. This suggests a rough parity has been achieved between the parties. Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, has said that “the gap today between the American people and their political leaders is bigger than the gap between Republicans in Washington and Democrats in Washington.” His book, In Search of Self-Governance, is available at Amazon.com.
Prior to the middle of last year, Democrats had consistently held an advantage of greater than two percentage points, peaking with a ten point advantage in April and May 2008. See the History of Party Trends from January 2004 to the present.
Rasmussen Reports tracks this information based on telephone interviews with approximately 15,000 adults per 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.
In each of the recent election cycles, the victorious party has gained in net partisan identification over the course of the election year. It is worth noting, however, that the gains are generally short-lived.
Following Election 2004, the Republican partisan decline began in February 2005. After the 2006 election, the Democratic edge began to decline as soon as they actually took control of Congress in January of the following year.
Following President Obama’s victory in November 2008, the Democrats' advantage in partisan identification peaked in December before declining.
In January 2009, the month of Obama’s inauguration, 33 percent considered themselves Republicans, while 41 percent identified themselves as Democrats.
The biggest partisan gap 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 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. That number fell below the 40 percent mark in March 2009 and first fell below 35 percent in September 2010.
For Republicans, the peak was way back in September 2004 at 37.3 percent. Since then, until recent months, 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 article are for all Adults, not Likely Voters. Republicans are a bit more likely to participate in elections than Democrats.
Republicans have consistently held an advantage on the for more than two years.
Data from our monthly partisan identification survey is used to Generic Congressional Ballot set weighting targets for other Rasmussen Reports surveys. The targets are based on results from the previous three months.
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