As midterms near, Republicans surge past Dems in favorability

Republican favorability ratings reach 7-year high, edging out Democrats for first time since 2015. Largest swing among middle-class.

David Rosenberg ,

Gearing up for 2017 midterms
Gearing up for 2017 midterms

The Republican party received a major boost to its favorability ratings over the past year, surging past the Democratic party to a seven-year high.

While the Republican party has typically trailed the Democratic party in terms of public image, over the past 12 months the GOP has enjoyed a sharp increase in its favorability ratings.

According to the Gallup polling agency’s party favorability index, Republicans trailed Democrats last September by eight points, with just 36% of American adults viewing the GOP favorably, compared to 44% of adults who had a favorable view of the Democratic party.

On Monday, however, Gallup released the results of its latest survey, showing a nine-point increase in the Republican party’s favorability rating, which now edges out the Democrats’ by a single point. Forty-five percent of American adults now view the Grand Old Party favorably, compared to 52% who view it unfavorably, while 44% of adults view the Democratic party favorably, compared to 52% who have an unfavorable view of it.

That is the highest favorability rating for the GOP since January 2011, when the party was viewed favorably by 47% of adults. Republican favorability ratings remained low compared to Democrats’ during the second Bush administration, but were largely tied with Democrats’ during President Obama’s first term in office.

After President Obama’s reelection in 2012, however, Republican favorability ratings sank, falling to a low of just 28% in late 2013.

GOP favorability ratings have averaged 39% over the past decade, compared to 44% for Democrats.

While the Republican party’s favorability ratings slid slightly during President Trump’s first eight months in office, since last September they marked one of the sharpest increases in recent years.

The increased popularity of the Republican party came primarily from solidifying support among the party’s base. While just 67% of self-identified Republicans and people who leaned Republican had a favorable view of the party last September, 85% had a favorable view of the GOP this September.

The GOP’s favorability among Democrats and people who lean Democratic remained stable at 10%.

Middle-class support for the Republican party was the largest driver of the higher favorability numbers, with favorability ratings among people in the $30,000-$74,999 a year income bracket rising from 36% last year to 49% this September. Smaller increases were also found among both the higher and lower income brackets.

Men were more likely than women to have a favorable view of the Republican party, with a 10-point gap opening up over the past year.

While men and women were nearly as likely to have favorable views of the GOP a year ago (37% of men and 35% of women), 50% of men today say they viewed the party favorable, compared to 40% of women.