Dramatic 14-point shift in party preference during 2021 gives GOP biggest lead since 1995: Gallup

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Republicans overtook Democrats as America’s preferred political party during the last quarter of 2021, with the GOP holding its largest lead in voter preference since 1995.

Republicans held a 47-42 lead in voter identification at the end of 2021, according to a Gallup Poll released Monday, a dramatic shift from the beginning of the year, when Democrats held a 49-40 edge in the metric.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined from left by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

A lead in voter preference by Republicans has been a rarity since Gallup first began posing the question to voters in 1991. The last GOP lead of this size, at the beginning of 1995, was shortly after the GOP regained control of the House for the first time in decades. Republicans are looking to repeat the accomplishment in 2022.

The numbers include both those who affiliate with each party and those who lean towards one of the two parties. Independents remain the largest political group in the U.S., with the percentage of voters who identify as independent continuing to grow in recent years.

Gallup noted that the shift in party preferences largely tracked the approval rating of President Biden, who started his term in January with high ratings but saw them fall amid growing concerns over the pandemic, the military’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and rising inflation.

President Biden.
(Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Despite the country seemingly trending towards the GOP throughout 2021, Democrats still held a net advantage over the average of all four quarters of the year. That advantage has been consistent since Gallup began posing the question to voters in 1991, with that first year being the lone time Republicans enjoyed more support than Democrats over the course of an entire year. The parties enjoyed roughly equal support from 2001-2003 and again in 2010-2011.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Gallup also noted that the Republican advantage may be starting to decline, with the party’s latest monthly estimate showing the GOP with only a two-point lead over Democrats.

Gallup surveyed 12,416 adults living in the U.S. throughout 2021, with the poll having a margin of error of plus or minus one percentage point.

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