March 20, 2008
The balance of party identification in the American electorate now favors the Democratic Party by a decidedly larger margin than in either of the two previous presidential election cycles.
In 5,566 interviews with registered voters conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press during the first two months of 2008, 36% identify themselves as Democrats, and just 27% as Republicans.
The share of voters who call themselves Republicans has declined by six points since 2004, and represents, on an annualized basis, the lowest percentage of self-identified Republican voters in 16 years of polling by the Center.
The Democratic Party has also built a substantial edge among independent voters. Of the 37% who claim no party identification, 15% lean Democratic, 10% lean Republican, and 12% have no leaning either way.
By comparison, in 2004 about equal numbers of independents leaned toward both parties. When "leaners" are combined with partisans, however, the Democratic Party now holds a 14-point advantage among voters nationwide (51% Dem/lean-Dem to 37% Rep/lean-Rep), up from a three-point advantage four years ago.
Despite these trends, the proportion of voters who identify with the Democratic Party outright has not increased in recent years. Currently, 36% say they think of themselves as a Democrat, virtually unchanged from 2004 (35%) and 2000 (35%). Instead, as the proportion of self-identified Republicans has decreased, the percentage of independents has grown substantially, from 32% in 2004 to 37% today.