In yet another indicator of the American public rejecting President Joe Biden, the latest polling from Gallup shows a significant shift in popularity from Democrats to the GOP. During the last year, support moved away from the party of the president toward Republicans by 14 points. While the final tally only gives a five-point lead to the minority, the swing signifies a dramatic change in mood not seen for decades.
The Gallup poll records that the Dems enjoyed a solid 49 to 40 advantage in those who self-identified with or leaned toward either party in early 2021. Yet in the space of just 12 months, those who favor Republicans are out in front, 47 to 42. Gallup summarized the historical significance:
“Both the nine-point Democratic advantage in the first quarter and the five-point Republican edge in the fourth quarter are among the largest Gallup has measured for each party in any quarter since it began regularly measuring party identification and leaning in 1991.”
A Fading Presidency?
For the GOP, there will likely be celebrations at the polling numbers. As Gallup points out, “The Republicans last held a five-point advantage in party identification and leaning in early 1995, after winning control of the House of Representatives for the first time since the 1950s.” But is this something for which the minority party can take credit – or a case of Democrats hemorrhaging support?
It is notable that during the first two quarters of 2021, support for Biden’s party remained steady at 49 points; a combination of relief from anti-Trump sectors, falling COVID numbers, and stimulus checks likely buoyed this figure. But then Biden’s popularity began to wane, and so did the number of Americans willing to identify with his party.
The confluence of a resurgent coronavirus, a humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan, and an inability to pass significant legislation has seen the president’s approval ratings plummet, and tracked alongside this precipitous decline has been support for Democrats in general.
Late GOP Wins
Gallup notes that the crossover in affiliation from Dems to GOP began around the same time as some big national wins for Republicans, including Glenn Youngkin taking Virginia and a near-upset for New Jersey incumbent Governor Phil Murphy. Breitbart’s John Nolte suggests this survey shows a seismic shift from which the Democrats may not recover so easily. He writes:
“Anyone familiar with history knows that the last time this happened was in 1968. Then, after years and years of social unrest and the coddling of violent criminals and urban decay, the GOP won five of the next six presidential elections, and Democrats were only able to retake the White House because Bill Clinton ran as a New Democrat who would be tough on crime and govern as a moderate.”
Beware That Gift Horse
The Republicans in Congress have few wins on which to campaign in 2022 and beyond. The major blocking of Biden’s legislation is being carried out by Democrat Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema. Still, the Republican star continues to rise. Donald Trump has begun to tacitly campaign, and he remains a moving target until he officially declares himself a candidate for the 2024 election.
Republican operatives are no doubt working hard to figure out the best way to capitalize on this unexpected gift granted them by a president who looks weaker by the day and a vice president who can’t do right for doing wrong. But if the current polling has little to do with their recent actions, they would do well to remember the advice of Napoleon Bonaparte: “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” Or the more modern interpretation: Never interrupt your enemy when he is in the process of destroying himself. Wise words, indeed.
~ Read more from Mark Angelides.