A new Pew Research Center poll shows that as the 2012 party conventions approach, the Democratic Party continues to maintain an advantage in party identification among voters, but its lead is much smaller than it was in 2008.
In more than 13,000 interviews conducted so far in 2012, 35% of registered voters identify with the Democratic Party, 28% with the Republican Party and 33% as independents. The share of Democrats has fallen three points since 2008, while the proportion of Republicans has remained steady.
When the leanings of independent voters are taken into account, the closing of the Democratic advantage is even more noticeable. Currently, independents lean slightly more toward the Republican Party than the Democratic Party (15% vs. 13%). Four years ago, the reverse was true (13% leaned Democratic, 11% Republican).
Overall, the Democrats now have a five-point lead in party affiliation among registered voters when independents who lean to either party are included (48% to 43%). That is down from a 12-point advantage in 2008 (51% to 39%). The current Democratic edge in leaned party identification is comparable to the slim leads they held in 2004 (three points) and 2000 (four points).
For a detailed analysis of recent trends in party identification, the composition of the parties and the opinions and values of Republicans and Democrats, see the accompanying tables.
The demographic differences between the Republican and Democratic voters are reflected in current profiles of the two parties’ bases. In surveys conducted in 2012, nearly nine-in-ten (87%) Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters are white, while just 11% are minorities. In contrast, 61% of Democrats are white, while nearly four-in-ten are African American (21%), Hispanic (10%) or another race (7%).
Men make up a majority (52%) of Republican Republican-leaning voters; among Democratic voters, 43% are men while 57% are women. Republican and Republican-leaning voters also are far more likely than Democratic voters to be married (65% of Republicans vs. 49% of Democrats).
Click here to see detailed tables showing trends in party affiliation, the demographic composition of the parties, and the opinions and values of Republicans and Democrats.
Source: Pew Research Center