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Lackluster Popularity Dogs the Political Parties, Poll Finds

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It’s no party being a political party: The Democrats, while slightly more popular than unpopular, are near their record lows.  The Republicans are underwater.  And the Tea Party political movement has slipped to its weakest favorability on record in ABC News/Washington Post polls.

Those lackluster results indicate the public’s continued discontent, political and economic alike.  They also follow allegiance: The Democratic Party’s better rating reflects the fact that more Americans consider themselves Democrats than Republicans.

All told, 49 percent see the Democratic Party favorably, 42 percent unfavorably -- somewhat more positive than negative, but a far cry from its recent highs.  The GOP, whose allegiance has waned in the past decade, gets a negative score of 39-53 percent.  And just 32 percent see the Tea Party favorably, 9 points off its peak in spring 2010.

Self-identified Democrats and Republicans are broadly positive about their chosen parties, 89 and 84 percent favorable, respectively, in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.  Among independents, that plummets to about four in 10 for both parties.


The difference is that 32 percent of Americans in this survey identify themselves as Democrats, vs. 25 percent as Republicans, levels that have held essentially steady the past three years.  That’s down for the GOP, which achieved parity with the Democrats in 2003 but has lost ground since.  (Independents now dominate, accounting for 39 percent in this survey.)

Intensity of sentiment is another challenge for the Republican Party: Substantially more Americans see it “strongly” negatively than strongly positively, 33 percent vs. 18 percent, while the Democratic Party breaks even (28 percent on both sides).

On the other hand, because fewer Democrats are registered to vote, the Democratic Party slips among registered voters to 48-46 percent, favorable-unfavorable, essentially an even split.  The GOP, though, remains underwater among registered voters, 42-53 percent.

The Democratic Party’s favorability rating, as noted, is very near its record lows -- 48 percent about a year ago and 47 percent in a 1984 survey -- and well down from its highs, including 58 percent in 2008, 64 percent in 2000 and 60 percent in 1996.  The GOP, similarly, is a mere 3 points from its own recent low in popularity, in June 2009, and far from its peak, 63 percent, last reached in 2002.

For its part, the Tea Party political movement has lost popularity; a record low 32 percent see it positively, down from a high of 41 percent in March 2010.  Forty-six percent now rate it negatively.

Part of that, though, reflects increased indecision.  Negative views of the Tea Party are lower than their peak, 52 percent, in January 2011; nearly a quarter instead now have no opinion of the movement, up 10 points in the same period.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio