The percentage of Americans identifying as Democrats dropped to 31% in 2010, tying the low in the last 22 years of Gallup polling. While Democrats still outnumber Republicans, at 29%, the percentage identifying as independents increased to 38%, making it the most common identification of all.
These results are based on aggregated data from 21 separate Gallup and USA Today/Gallup polls conducted in 2010, encompassing more than 25,000 interviews with U.S. adults. Gallup has computed annual averages for party identification since 1988, when it began conducting most of its polls by telephone.
The Gallup Daily tracking poll, initiated in 2008, shows similar party identification figures for 2010 -- 32% Democratic, 28% Republican, and 37% independent. The tracking data also show the same trend toward declining Democratic identification coupled with greater increases among independents than Republicans.
While there is usually some year-to-year variation in party identification at the aggregate level, the changes are typically not large. Thus, the five-point drop in Democratic identification over the past two years, from the party's 22-year high of 36% (tying the 1988 figure) to its 22-year low of 31%, is notable.
Perhaps equally significant is that the percentage of Americans identifying as Republicans has increased only slightly to 29% during this time, and remains on the low end of what Gallup has measured the past two decades.
Nevertheless, 2010 was a good year for Republicans, given the party's major gains in the midterm elections. Those gains were in part driven by the party's appeal to independents, evident in the strong support for Republican congressional candidates among independent voters. (Continues)