Why Both Political Parties Are Floundering
Policy + Politics

Why Both Political Parties Are Floundering

Flickr/C.M. Keiner

By now, Americans are used to hearing how much the nation loathes Congress. Whenever a new approval poll comes out, reporters have great fun in pointing out that Congress ranks near the bottom – along with viruses, head lice, and cockroaches.

Those polls, however, typically ask about Congress as an institution. Generally, when individuals are asked to discuss their approval of the two major political parties, a base of support for one or the other boosts their numbers. Yet even that support, perhaps partisan in nature, seems to be starting to fade.

Related: Why Americans Think Congress Just Doesn’t Get It

On Monday, Gallup reported that for the first time since the polling firm began tracking party approval levels in 1992, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans were able to crack 40 percent. Gallup surveyed 1,025 adults living in the U.S. and found that only 37 percent had a favorable view of the Republican Party and only 39 percent had a favorable view of the Democratic Party.

Both parties were above the 50 percent mark in the “unfavorable” category, though. Republicans were seen unfavorably by 53 percent of the population, while 51 percent had that view of Democrats.

While Republicans have struggled with their favorable ranking for years – the GOP hasn’t seen the other side of 50 percent since 2005 – the Democrats have until recently been comfortably above the 40 percent mark. In fact, until a poll conducted after the 2014 midterm elections, the Democrats had never come in below 40 percent approval in the poll’s history. They have now done so twice in a row.

Related: 15 Awful Things More Popular Than Congress

“For some time, numerous Gallup trends have been showing Americans largely displeased with government's performance and leadership,” wrote Gallup’s Lydia Saad. “Through it all, at least one political party was reviewed well, but now -- perhaps because of the constant brinksmanship going on between Obama and the Republican Congress, but maybe for other reasons -- both parties are floundering.”

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