President Obama starts his second term with a clear upper hand over GOP leaders on issues from guns to immigration that are likely to dominate the year, a USA TODAY/Pew Research Center Poll finds. On the legislation rated most urgent — cutting the budget deficit — even a majority of Republican voters endorse Obama's approach of seeking tax hikes as well as spending cuts.The hits just keep on coming for the GOP, huh? Looking at the crosstabs, I actually calculate the number of self-identified at 24 percent, but that still means less than a quarter call themselves Republican. That compares to 31 percent Democrat, and 40 percent independent. (For comparison's sake, the 2012 presidential exit poll ended up 38 percent Democratic, 32 percent Republican, 29 percent independent or something else.)
The survey underscores the quandary for the GOP as it debates the party's message in the wake of disappointing losses last November for the White House and in the Senate.
Now just 22% of Americans, nearly a record low, consider themselves Republicans.
Of course, the tea party crowd pretends to be independent, which is how Mitt Romney won the independent vote last year. However, something is happening with that independent vote.
Per Pew, Obama's approval rating among independents was 28-51 in November 2011, which was a net 44 points more favorable than Republicans at 11-75. It is now 42-44 with independents, or a net 55 points more favorable than Republicans at 16-73. Independents are also more likely to approve of congressional Democrats than Republicans, by a net 14 points.
In other words, independents are moving left. Whether that means that independents as a group are evolving politically, or whether it's addition by subtraction as the teabaggers tune out of politics is impossible to say. Whatever the reason, this is just more bad news for Republicans.
It's not just that few Americans want to align themselves with the Republican Party, but they are also losing independents. I know it's a lot to ask for, but if Democrats can resist the urge to fuck things up, 2014 could start shaping up quite nicely.