Andrew Dugan --- Gallup
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- After the midterm elections that saw the Democratic Party suffer significant losses in Congress, a record-low 36% of Americans say they have a favorable opinion of the party, down six percentage points from before the elections. The Republican Party's favorable rating, at 42%, is essentially unchanged from 40%. This marks the first time since September 2011 that the Republican Party has had a higher favorability rating than the Democratic Party.
These results come from a Nov. 6-9 Gallup poll, conducted after Republicans enjoyed a breathtaking sweep of important contests throughout the country in this year's midterms. The party gained control of the Senate and will likely capture its largest House majority in nearly a century. Additionally, the GOP now controls 31 governorships and two-thirds of state legislative chambers.
The descent in Democrats' ratings caps a wild political ride for both parties over the past two years. After President Barack Obama's re-election in 2012, the Democratic Party's favorable rating spiked to 51%, the first time either party had enjoyed majority support since 2009. However, after the post-election glow wore off, the party's image settled back down near the 45% average for the Obama presidency. Meanwhile, Americans' favorable ratings of the Republican Party collapsed to 28% during the fall 2013 federal government shutdown, the lowest such rating for either party since Gallup first asked the question in 1992.
Because of congressional Republicans' apparent political miscalculation in allowing the shutdown, some raised the possibility of a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives in the 2014 midterms. But the speculation was short lived. While Republicans agreed to a compromise that ended the shutdown, the Obama administration made a number of political blunders, including the botched rollout of the federal government's healthcare website; a series of international crises in Ukraine, Iraq and Syria; the Veterans Affairs hospitals scandal; and a criticized response to the first appearance of the Ebola virus on U.S. soil. Whatever momentum the Democrats gained during the government shutdown was lost. The Democratic Party's image stagnated as Republicans' slowly improved, putting the parties at rough parity heading into the midterms.
The GOP currently has an image advantage over the Democratic Party; still, neither party is held in particularly high regard. This is yet another sign of Americans' dissatisfaction with their political system.