“We the People” are Less Happy with our Political Parties

I’ve read a few articles recently about how the Republican Party is dying because people are leaving it in droves.  Some columnists are just offering their personal observations, but at least one cited recent polling data to back up his claim.  According to  the report he cited, though, the one by the Pew Research Center, fewer people are identifying themselves as Republicans or Democrats.  Republican numbers are down two different ways.  Over the last six years their percentage of the population is down from 30% to 23%.  Over the last six months the drop is from 26% to 22%.  Over the course of the last six years, the Democrats are up according to the Pew Report (33%-35%), but over the last six months, support for them has dropped, too (39%-33%).

What does all of this mean?

One thing it means is that more people have consistently identified themselves as Democrats than Republicans over the last several years.

It means political independents play an important role in determining our leaders.  In 2004 there were more professed Democrats than Republicans in the country, but George W. Bush won 51% of the popular vote.

It means Republicans appear to be growing disenchanted with Republican leadership over the last six months (they’ve lost four points).

It means Democrats appear to be growing disenchanted with Democratic leadership over the last six months (they’ve lost six points).

The Republicans have gone from 13 percentage points behind to 11 behind.  Does this mean the country is falling out of love with its Democrat-controlled government, or should you infer that Democrats are in an even stronger position than before since Republicans were already behind and they’ve lost even more support?

What does it say about our two-party system when only 55% of the country is happy with either party?  Is it time for a new party to emerge?  Is one or both of the current parties in danger of not surviving?  It’s not impossible for them to fall apart; just ask the Whigs or the Federalists.  Of course the Democrats and Republicans have skewed the election rules in their favor.  Still, with so much sentiment running against the big parties, you’d think maybe some politician somewhere could make a splash by seriously pushing term limits.