With all attention being paid (and rightly so) to Republican efforts to rig upcoming elections in their favor by making it harder to vote, especially harder for African Americans and other Democratic-leaning groups, the steady improvement during 2021 of Republicans in the quarterly Gallup survey of party identification may not have received the attention it deserves.
In the first quarter of 2021, Democrats had a nine-point lead (combining those who described themselves as Democrats with those who said they leaned Democratic). In the second quarter, it shrank to six. In the third quarter, the Democratic advantage was down to a single percentage point, 45-44.
Gallup’s recently-published numbers for the fourth quarter of 2021 show that Republicans and Republican leaners outnumbered Democrats and Dem-leaners by 47-42 percent.
According to the Gallup writeup of this trend, Republicans haven’t held a quarterly advantage this large since 1995.
The biggest shift, in the case of both parties, was among “leaners.” Democrats dropped just two points (from 30-28) among those who identified as Democrats, and Republicans gained by just three (from 25 to 28). But those identifying as Democratic leaners fell by five points of the course of 2021 (19 to 14) and Republican leaners grew by four (15 to 19).