More Voters Shift to Republican Party, Closing Gap With Democrats

In the run-up to the 2020 election, more voters across the country identified as Democrats than Republicans. But four years into Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidency, that gap has shrunk, and the United States now sits almost evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.

Republicans have made significant gains among voters without a college degree, rural voters and white evangelical voters, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center. At the same time, Democrats have held onto key constituencies, such as Black voters and younger voters, and have gained ground with college-educated voters.

The report offers a window into how partisan identification — that is, the party that voters tell pollsters they identify with or lean toward — has shifted over the past three decades. The report groups independents, who tend to behave like partisans even if they eschew the label, with the party they lean toward.

“The Democratic and Republican parties have always been very different demographically, but now they are more different than ever,” said Carroll Doherty, the director of political research at Pew.

The implications of the trend, which has also shown up in party registration data among newly registered voters, remains uncertain, as a voter’s party affiliation does not always predict who he or she will select in an election. But partisan affiliation patterns do offer clues to help understand how the shifting coalitions over the last quarter century have shaped recent political outcomes. During the Trump administration, the Democratic Party’s coalition grew, helping to bring about huge victories in the 2018 midterm elections and a victory for President Biden in 2020.

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