PARTY TIME The grimmest score is the GOP's: A mere 35 percent express a favorable impression of the Republican Party, a number that's been lower just twice in polls since 1984 32 percent last October, just after the partial government shutdown in a Washington budget dispute; and 31 percent in December 1998, immediately after the impeachment of Bill Clinton.
The Democratic Party is seen favorably by more Americans, 49 percent in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. But that, similarly, is one of the party's lowest popularity ratings on record in 30 years.
The Democrats' 14-point advantage in favorability may look like an edge in the midterms, and indeed it may make them less vulnerable than they'd be otherwise. But other elements factor into election math, including turnout, which customarily favors the Republicans; the number of open Senate seats each party has to defend, higher this year for the Democrats; competitive House seats, which as noted are few; the quality of individual candidates; and the presence or absence of an overarching theme that can galvanize voters in one party's favor, which has yet to emerge.
The Democrats get a little boost out of their better in-party rating, and also benefit from the fact that there's more of them 32 percent of Americans identify themselves as Democrats, vs. 22 percent who say they're Republicans, basically where it's been, on average, since 2009.
The Democratic Party also gets a lift from independents; they frown on both parties, but more on the GOP (31-61 percent, favorable-unfavorable) than on the Democrats (a 41-50 percent split).
Independents, who tend to be less favorably inclined toward politics in general, are notably annoyed with their own representative: just 35 percent approve, while 56 percent disapprove. Approval rises to slightly fewer than half of Democrats and Republicans alike.
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