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Democrats Maintain Favorability Edge Over Republicans

Democrats Maintain Favorability Edge Over Republicans

Story Highlights

  • Democratic Party (48%) rated more favorably than Republican Party (43%)
  • Republicans hold six-percentage-point advantage on protecting the country
  • Republicans also favored to keep country prosperous, 49% vs. 45%

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans continue to view the Democratic Party slightly more favorably than the Republican Party, but the GOP maintains its edge on two key responsibilities of government -- protecting the U.S. from external threats and keeping the country prosperous.

Both parties' images are modestly improved since late January after the longest government shutdown in U.S. history ended. The Republican Party's 43% favorability marks a six-percentage-point increase since then, while the Democratic Party's latest 48% favorability rating edged up three percentage points.

The GOP has a six-percentage-point advantage over the Democratic Party on protecting the country from international terrorism and military threats, 50% to 44%, and a four-point edge on ensuring prosperity, 49% to 45%. Both of these advantages are about equal to one year ago.

Favorability of the Republican and Democratic Parties

One year ago, the Republican Partys' favorable rating hit its highest point in seven years only to drop eight points in January after its image suffered worse than the Democratic Party in the 35-day government shutdown. The Democrats' image held steady between September 2018 and January 2019.

The latest favorability ratings of the parties come from Gallup's Sept. 3-15 poll which was completed before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi initiated a formal impeachment inquiry into claims that President Donald Trump attempted to pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate his potential 2020 rival, Joe Biden.

Line graph. Favorability of the Republican and Democratic parties since 2009, currently 43% vs. 48%.

Although the Democratic Party has mostly held a slight advantage over the GOP for the last few years, neither party's favorability has reached the majority level in quite some time. Aside from one 51% rating in the days after Barack Obama was re-elected in 2012, the Democratic Party has not enjoyed majority-level favorability since 2009. Favorability ranged from 51% to 57% from mid-2006 through mid-2009.

It has been even longer since the Republican Party has been viewed positively by a majority of Americans. In February 2005, early in George W. Bush's second term and before public support for the war in Iraq soured, Americans' favorability ratings of the GOP were 51% and 56%. The most recent long stretch of positivity toward Republicans was from early 2002 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks through March 2003 when the Iraq War began.

The latest uptick in the favorable image of the Republican Party is a result of a modest increase in positivity among independents and to a lesser extent, Republicans. The percentage of independents with favorable views of the Republican party grew from 29% in January to 35% now but remains lower than the 41% it was at one year ago. Republicans' opinion of their own party has edged up four points since January to 92%, about the same level it was one year ago.

For their part, Democrats' positive views of their own party have remained steady in the last year with about nine in 10 viewing it favorably. Independents' favorability of the Democratic Party (43%) is nine points higher than it was in January and slightly above last year's reading.

Favorability of Political Parties, by Party Identification
Sept. 2018 Jan. 2019 Sept. 2019
% Favorable % Favorable % Favorable
Republican Party
U.S. adults 45 37 43
Republicans 91 88 92
Independents 41 29 35
Democrats 6 11 8
Democratic Party
U.S. adults 44 45 48
Republicans 7 3 7
Independents 40 34 43
Democrats 89 90 91

GOP Maintains Edge on Protecting the U.S. and Maintaining Prosperity

With few exceptions, since 2002, when Gallup first asked the question, Americans have viewed the Republican Party as better able to protect the U.S. from international terrorism and military threats. The latest 6-point advantage for the GOP is unchanged from last year.

Line graph. Americans’ views of which party will do a better job of protecting the country from terrorism and military threats.

Americans also give Republicans an edge over Democrats when it comes to the ability to keep the country prosperous, 49% vs. 45%. Unlike the measure on protection from external threats, however, the public's view of which party is better able to maintain prosperity has changed over the years. Most recently, from 2003 through 2009 and again in 2012, the Democratic Party was favored on this measure.

Line graph. Americans’ views of which party will do a better job keeping the country prosperous.

Gallup has asked this question regularly since 1951 and views have fluctuated over that time.

Each party's loyalists stand behind their own party's ability to protect the country and keep it prosperous, although Republicans are slightly more likely than Democrats to support their own party on both. Independents currently tilt toward favoring the Republican Party on both measures.

Partisans' Views on Protecting the U.S. and Maintaining Prosperity
Which party would do a better job…?
Republican Party Democratic Party
% %
Keeping the country prosperous
Republicans 96 4
Independents 46 41
Democrats 10 88
Protecting the U.S. from international terrorism/military threats
Republicans 95 3
Independents 49 38
Democrats 10 87

Bottom Line

Although Americans still rate the Democratic Party more positively than the Republican Party, they think that the Republican Party is better able to keep the U.S. secure from external threats and keep the country prosperous. Past data show that in the last three presidential elections, the party that was more trusted to keep the country prosperous in the election year ultimately won the White House.

View complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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