As the year went on, Gallup polling found, adults became more likely to identify with Republicans than with Democrats, and this could be important for the upcoming elections.
A Republican Party elephant logo is pictured with the hair of President Donald Trump.
The images are from the same source.
According to Gallup, in the first quarter of the 21st century, 49 percent of Americans identified as Democrats or leaned Democratic, while 40% were Republicans.
By the fourth quarter of 2021, 45% of respondents identified as Republicans, while 42% said they were Democrats.
According to Gallup, Democrats had their biggest advantage over Republicans since the end of 2012 when Barack Obama won reelection, while Republicans had their largest lead since 1995.
The share of Democratic-leaning Independents went from 19% to 14% over the course of the year, while the share of Republican-leaning Independents went up from 15% to 19%.
The percentage of Americans who identify as Democrats or lean Democratic is still higher than the percentage who identify as Republicans.
42% of Americans identified as Independents when that option was included, compared to 29% Democrat and 27% Republican.
More Gallup respondents leaned Democratic than Republican in the year 2021, but a larger number categorized their views as conservative. A plurality of Americans said they held moderate views in the future, but only 34% said they were conservative or liberal. Democrats had an advantage in party affiliation in 2020.
The party affiliations of Americans will change. According to Gallup, Americans ended the year a bit more balanced, with 45% Republican or Republican-leaning versus 42% Democratic.
The key background.
Gallup notes that since 1991, Americans have leaned more Democratic than Republican, with the exception of 1991, when Republicans held a significant advantage. In 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2010, the two parties registered roughly equal levels of support. The pollster speculated that the presidential approval rating may have been a factor in Americans changing their party affiliation. GOP President Donald Trump left office in January with a record low approval rating of 34%, according to Gallup, while incoming President Joe Biden had a 57% approval rating as of January 2021. Biden's approval rating plunged over the course of the year, as issues like the president's handling of the situation in Afghanistan and the administration's Covid-19 response resulted in an approximately 43% approval rating as 2021. In the elections of 2021, Republicans won major races like Virginia's gubernatorial race and a close win for governor in New Jersey.
We don't know what we don't know.
Which party controls Congress in the next Congress will be determined by how Americans' partisan leanings are. The generic congressional ballot asks people if they would support the GOP or Democratic candidate, and Republicans hold a narrow advantage so far. According to an aggregate of polls compiled by FiveThirtyEight, 42.4% of respondents said they would back Republicans.
The U.S. political party preferences changed a lot during 2021.
Conservatives, Moderates Tie; U.S. political ideology steady.
Many Americans were frustrated with Biden after the first year.