Earlier this week, Rasmussen published one of its regular surveys on partisan identification. Unlike its other polls, Rasmussen surveys adults in general, rather than likely or registered voters to determine the composition of Democrats, Republicans, and independents, which makes it similar to the Gallup effort. And like Gallup, Rasmussen’s results show a further narrowing of the difference between Republicans and Democrats, as the latter lost almost two points in a month (via Andrew Malcolm):
The number of Americans identifying themselves as Democrats fell by nearly two percentage points in November. Added to declines earlier in the year, the number of Democrats in the nation has fallen by five percentage points during 2009.
In November, 36.0% of American adults said they were Democrats. That’s down from 37.8% a month ago and the lowest number of Democrats since December 2005. See the History of Party Trends from January 2004 to the present.
The number of Republicans inched up by just over a point in November to 33.1%. That’s within the narrow range that Republicans have experienced throughout 2009 – from a low of 31.9% to a high of 33.6%.
Two months ago, Gallup’s survey put the difference between the two parties at 6 points. Rasmussen had it almost exactly the same, at 5.9%. Both pollsters show the trend towards narrowing the gap, which is reflected indirectly in the generic Congressional ballot surveys conducted not just by Gallup and Rasmussen but also other pollsters, such as Public Policy.
This survey is important for a few reasons. First, it confirms the earlier Gallup survey and shows that the erosion of support for the Democratic agenda continues, even among Democrats. That can’t be blamed on a lack of accomplishment by Congress, but a dissatisfaction with its direction now that they have full control of the national agenda. It may also reflect the end of the blame-Bush excuse, an expiration that most Democrats in Congress and the White House have not yet discovered.
Perhaps more importantly, this serves as a marker for media pollsters whose surveys routinely include double-digit partisan gaps. When one reads the next CBS/NYT poll or the WaPo/ABC poll, with their fourteen-point gaps in partisan identification favoring Democrats, we can use these independent polls to expose them as subjective hackery rather than real data.