See the latest Pew Research Center data on U.S. political party affiliation, including trends in voting and elections.
Independents Oppose Party in Power … Again
For the third national election in a row, independent voters may be poised to vote out the party in power. Political independents now favor GOP candidates by about as large a margin as they backed Barack Obama in 2008. The “independent vote,” however, is in no way monolithic; this is not surprising given that most independents are recent refugees from the two major parties.
The Vote for Congress: GOP Fares Better with Whites, Men, Independents and Seniors
While voter preferences for the midterm elections remain closely divided, Republicans now enjoy advantages among typically loyal voting blocs that wavered in 2006 and are doing better with key swing groups. Americans who intend to vote GOP this fall are also far more engaged in the campaign this year.
Earmarks Could Help Candidates in Midterms; Palin and Tea Party Connections Could Hurt
Across party lines, the public sees earmarking by their congressional candidates as more of an asset than a liability. Americans are divided on the value of Obama in November, while both Palin’s support and Tea Party affiliation are seen by more as negative than positive. On energy, public backs a wide range of goals and policies.
Voters Rate Political Parties’ Ideologies
In broad terms, voters view the Democratic Party’s ideology as the opposite of the Republican Party’s: 58% say the Democratic Party is either very liberal or liberal while 56% say the GOP is either very conservative or conservative.
Democrats’ Edge Among Millennials Slips
The “Millennial Generation” of young voters played a big role in the resurgence of the Democratic Party in the 2006 and 2008 elections, but their attachment to the Democratic Party weakened markedly over the course of 2009.
A Year Out, Widespread Anti-Incumbent Sentiment
The mood of America is glum. Most are dissatisfied with the state of the nation, economic conditions, personal finances and an increasing number say the war in Afghanistan is not going well. Still, a majority continues to approve of Obama’s job as president.
Partisanship and Cable News Audiences
In recent years, Republican viewers have migrated increasingly to Fox News but Democrats comprise a larger share of the Fox News audience than Republicans do of CNN’s audience.
Independents Take Center Stage in the Obama Era
Centrism has emerged as a dominant factor in public opinion as the Obama administration begins. Republicans and Democrats are even more divided than in the past, while the growing political middle is steadfastly mixed in its beliefs about government, the free market and other values that underlie views on contemporary issues and policies. Both political parties have lost adherents since the election and an increasing number of Americans identify as independents.
GOP Party Identification Slips Nationwide and in Pennsylvania
The Republican Party has continued to lose adherents in 2009. In combined surveys since the start of the year, fewer than a quarter (23%) of Americans identify as Republicans. In total, the GOP has lost roughly a quarter of its base over the past five years. But these losses have not translated into substantial Democratic gains.
Dems’ Favorability Advantage Widens
The current Democratic favorability advantage is the largest measured in nearly two decades. Even among white evangelical Protestants, loyal supporters of the Republican Party, opinions about the two parties are about even.