2013 was a rough year for Republicans. President Obama was inaugurated for his second term. Congress, the only branch of government where the party has any kind of control, was surpassingly unpopular. The government shutdown left the Republicans holding the bag and taking the blame from the American people.
Maybe that helps explain why a historically low number of Americans identified with the Grand Old Party last year.
Gallup released its annual party identification report Wednesday, which is an average of periodic polls throughout the year. On average in 2013, just 25 percent of Americans said they identified as Republicans. That’s down from 28 percent in 2012, and it’s the lowest figure that the polling firm has found since 1983, when Gallup was still conducting interviews face to face.
The survey doesn’t ascribe any reasons for the party’s remarkable lack of popularity, but it seems likely that Republicans took a particularly hard hit because of the government shutdown for which most Americans blamed it. The last quarter of 2013 saw GOP identification dip all the way to 22 percent, a huge drop from 27 percent in the first half of the year.
To put a finer point on it: In Gallup’s poll from Oct. 3 to 6, the first after the government shut down, 20 percent of Americans said they were Republicans, the lowest figure from any individual poll in the last decade.
Of course, conservatives aren’t simply going extinct. Some of them are just abandoning the GOP name. In all, 41 percent of Americans said on average in 2013 that they either are Republicans or they lean Republican. That’s basically unchanged from 2012.
But the difference is: the “lean Republican” portion ticked up from 14 percent to 16 percent, while those who called themselves name-brand Republicans dropped by three percentage points.
So while conservatives might still support the GOP, it seems last year more of them preferred to do so in private.
Image: Shutterstock/Alta Oosthuizen