We did a survey of more than 1,200 U.S. voters (conducted by our research arm Edelman Berland), showing them a series of 14 words and phrases (positive brand attributes) and asking them to tell us which party – Democrat or Republican – the phrases better described. The results are stunning. The Democratic party “won” on 13 of 14 attributes. Even more importantly, they won 12 of 14 among independents. And on some of the attributes it wasn’t all that close. The Democratic party emerges as far stronger than the GOP on several key attributes, including: “offers a hopeful vision of the future,” “cares about people like me,” “clearly explains how its actions will benefit me,” “understands issues facing the middle class,” “works to bring about change,” “honest and ethical” and “smart and innovative.”…

Note the highlighted words in each of these phrases. It would take a brand planner two minutes to conjure up a creative brief for the Democratic brand using these key words: hopeful, caring, beneficial, understanding, changing (for better), ethical and innovative. These are the brand signals that are currently owned by the Democratic party. They form the core of its brand identity. And thinking about what we said earlier about the types of attributes, our data shows that the GOP scores much better on the rational attributes we tested, while it fares far worse on the emotional ones…

All of that being said, the Republican party is not in a death spiral. But it does have a significant brand problem. And while the demographic challenges facing Republicans have gotten more post-election play, the party’s brand image issue may be more central to its recovery.