Gallup: Democrats now outnumber Republicans by 9 percentage points, thanks to independents

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"I think what we have to do as a party is battle the damage to the Democratic brand," Democratic National Committee Chairman Jamie Harrison said on The Daily Beast's latest New Abnormal podcast. Gallup reported Wednesday that, at least relatively speaking, the Democratic brand is doing pretty good.

In the first quarter of 2021, 49 percent of U.S. adults identified as Democrats or independents with Democratic leanings, versus 40 percent for Republicans and GOP leaders, Gallup said. "The 9-percentage-point Democratic advantage is the largest Gallup has measured since the fourth quarter of 2012. In recent years, Democratic advantages have typically been between 4 and 6 percentage points."

When Gallup stripped out the independents, 30 percent of U.S. adults identified as Democrats, 25 percent as Republicans, and 11 percent were independents with no partisan leanings. The rise in the number of independents, to 44 percent from 38 percent in the previous quarter, "correlates with the decline in Republican Party identification, just as in 2013, when the GOP saw a drop in the popularity during the government shutdown over the Affordable Care Act," Gallup says. Democratic affiliation has hovered around 30 percent for most of the past eight years.

Party identification, polled on every Gallup survey, is "something that we think is important to track to give a sense to the relevant strength of the two parties at any one point in time and how party preferences are responding to events," Gallup senior editor Jeff Jones told USA Today.

Republicans recovered from their 2013 deficit "to make gains in the 2014 midterm elections and are hoping to duplicate that feat in 2022," Gallup notes. "Like in 2014, their hopes may rest largely on the popularity level of the incumbent Democratic president." Gallup currently has President Biden's approval rating at 54 percent.

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