Thursday, October 10, 2013

"Internally Splintered:" Gallup Reiterates Fact that Democrats Are Fond Of Themselves, Republicans More Self-Critical

Gallup analysis confirms a long-running trend of Republicans being more harsh on their own party than Democrats with theirs, and points the blame at "internal strife." If there is any "strife," it exists between the groups represented above, with (from left) Demint, Cruz, and Limbaugh representing the Tea Party/Heritage wing of the party, and Boehner, Peter King, and Karl Rove representing the "GOP Establishment." Photos courtesy of Donkey Hotey.

Twitter lit up once again this afternoon when the Gallup organization released an attention-grabbing headline: Republican Party Favorability Sinks to All-Time Low. And below is just a small sample of reactions to the news.

How bad could it possibly be, you ask? Precedent-setting awful, that's how bad. Barely over one-quarter of Americans have a favorable view of the Grand Ole Party (28%), while roughly two-thirds view it unfavorably (62%). And as Andrew Dugan of the Gallup organization notes, it's the lowest popularity rating for Republicans OR Democrats since they began polling the question twenty-one years ago.

For their part, the Democrats are also near-record setting popularity lows (43/49%). They just have a much higher floor than Republicans.

The Gallup numbers would be a little easier for Republican spinsters to dismiss if it weren't for the fact that similarly poor numbers are popping up all over the place. But Dugan also cites a particular phenomenon in the Gallup press-release that might provide a bit of relief for fretful Republican campaign operatives across the country:

"Self-identified Republicans are more than twice as likely to view their own party unfavorably (27%) as Democrats are to see their own party unfavorably (13%). . . These findings may be consistent with the widely circulated narrative that the Republican Party is internally splintered on how best to handle the budgetary negotiations."

This phenomenon isn't limited to the new Gallup poll, either. Consider the chart below, which documents how consistently Republican voters have offered up less favorable or approving views of their own party than Democrats, at least over the course of the last several months (please keep in mind that only polls with readily retrievable crosstabs could be used in the tabulation):

*denotes survey asked poll respondents whether they approved or disapproved of the Republican or Democratic Party, rather than whether they felt favorably or unfavorably toward the party.

In polling dating back nearly 6 months, Democrats have consistently approved of their own party on average by 36 net points MORE than Republicans approve of there's. So Gallup's Andrew Dugan is dead-on when he says that a lot of the Republicans' popularity woes are self-inflicted.

To further illustrate this point, consider the two tables below. The first compares Republican and Democratic Party favorability. The second table does the same, but with the Republican Party favorability rating reweighted so that Republican's approval of their own party matches Democratic approval of their own party in that particular poll, all other findings remaining the same:

*denotes survey asked poll respondents whether they approved or disapproved of the Republican or Democratic Party, rather than whether they felt favorably or unfavorably toward the party.

The average Republican Party favorable/approval rating, as seen in the the first of the two charts above, is 25/67%, a net 18 points worse than the average Democratic Party favorable/approval rating of 34/58%. But if Republican survey respondents had approved of the Republican Party by the same levels Democrats approved of their party, the Republican Party's overall favorability rating improves from 25/67 to 30/63%. The net difference in approval between the two parties drops from 18 points to 11 points. As you can see,  the GOP's internal strife does make a difference.

So make no mistake about it - the government shutdown is harming the Republican Party, worse than it's harming the Democrats. And whether Republicans are more willing to shun their own party than Democrats or not, they're still the less popular party in a two-party system. But if you're of the mind that winning elections is what really matters in politics, the GOP's favorability rating shouldn't cause a mini-stroke just yet. After all, who else are those angry Republicans going to vote for?

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