Democrats Drop and Republicans Rise, but the Real Juice Is With the Independents

Democrats lost support during 2021. Gallup examines American political preferences every year. In the last decades, Americans have identified more with the Democratic Party than they do with Republicans. The average Gallup survey found that 46% said they were or leaned Democrat while only 43% stated they were/leaned Republican. However, a deeper analysis of the data shows a completely different picture.

The gap was smaller at 49 percent for Democrats, and 40% for Republicans. The gap between the two groups had narrowed. Only 49 percent were still aligned more with Democrats than 43 percent who are now with Republicans. The third quarter saw identification converge with 44 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Democrats aligning themselves.

Things turned completely around in the last quarter of 2021. On average, 47 percent of people surveyed said they were Republican or leaned Republican in the quarter. Just 42 percent stated they were Democrat or leaned Democrat.

What is the deal? The survey itself—composed of telephone interviews with 12,000 randomly sampled American adults—can’t actually tell us. There are numerous factors which seem to be plausible, so we can speculate.

  • Trump Factor. While Trump is loved by his base of supporters, he has been polarizing among moderates and independents. The fact that Trump was removed from office is not surprising. However, Trump’s presidency has seen the Republican Party lose some of its shine.
  • COVID policies.Many Democratic solutions to the pandemic were not popular in the post-vaccine age. Perhaps people were disillusioned by Democrats’ continued push for mask mandates, school closes, and other restrictions.
  • Grass-is-always-greener syndrome. Whichever party is in power—in this case, the Democrats—has more opportunities to piss people off and gets more blame (fairly or unfairly) for any economic and cultural woes.

Whatever the reason, Democrats seem to have lost popularity over 2021. Their GOP counterparts were more popular. It created an uncharacteristically large gap in the partisan identification.

Gallup polling revealed that 2021 was an anomaly. Gallup reported that both the nine-point Democratic advantage and five-point Republican edge were among the greatest Gallup measures of party identification and leanings in any quarter since 1991. Since 1991, the GOP has maintained a 5-point lead in only 4 quarters.

Gallup’s survey in the early 1990’s showed that Republicans were ahead by five to one in identification of party members. This was also true in 1995 and 1991.

Gallup reports that Democrats had larger, two-digit advantage in some quarters between 1992-99 and almost continuously from mid-2006 to early 2009.” The last time it had an advantage of 9 points was 2012.

Gallup’s December poll showed that there was a narrowing of the Republican-Democratic gap. In December 46 percent of respondents identified themselves as Republican or Republican-leaning, while 44 percent were Democratic or Democratic-leaning.

How about Independents? Gallup asked people who identify as independent to select which one of the main parties they lean toward the most. They could not choose to identify with either the Libertarian Party (or any third party) but that was the only option. On average, 8 per cent said they were not inclined in either direction and about equal percentages stated they lean Republican (17 percent) or Democrat (17 percent).

An interesting fact is that while most independents are leaning either Republican-Democratic, it hides a fascinating data point. Americans tend to identify more as independents than they do as Republican-Democratic.

Last year, 42 percent of respondents to the poll said that they are politically independent. Only 29 percent identified themselves as Democrat, and 27% as Republican.

This is a slight increase in the percentage of independents compared to recent years (39% in 2020 and 41% respectively in 2019). This is a reflection of the “broader trend towards an increasing number of political independents.” [that]This has been evident over the past decade,” Gallup states: “At most four of every ten Americans considered themselves independents during all years except the 2016-2020 presidential election years.” Prior to 2011, independence had not reached 40%.


Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), continues to fight for copyright regulations. EFF says the rules—part of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)—”violate the First Amendment and criminalize certain speech about technology, preventing researchers, tech innovators, filmmakers, educators, and others from creating and sharing their work.”

It is a crime under section 1201 to distribute or participate in any information concerning the DMCA. [circumventing digital locks]EFF appeal explains that even if circumvention is for a legal purpose, it will be considered illegal. EFF says it “is probable unconstitutional upon its face as a speech limitation that cannot be withstand strict or intermediate scrutiny or as unconstitutional Speech-licensing regimen.”


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• A volcanic eruption on an uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean was strong enough to send shock waves all the way to Michigan.

• A British gunman held four people hostage inside a Texas synagogue for hours on Saturday. The gunman—44-year-old Malik Faisal Akram—eventually released the hostages and was killed by an FBI team.

• “Senate Democrats plan to press ahead this week with an effort to push new voting rights protections through Congress, in an all but doomed attempt to enact a key piece of President Biden’s agenda,” The New York Times reports. The Senate will debate the bill Tuesday.

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