More than two-thirds of American adults--37 percent--called themselves Republicans in Rasmussen's December survey, while the number of people who call themselves Democrats dropped by one point, to 33.7 percent. [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on Democrats.]
The data was collected in telephone interviews with approximately 15,000 adults and has a margin of error of less than one percentage point, with a 95 percent level of confidence. The numbers, Rasmussen said, "[R]eflect the largest number of Republicans in the nation since December 2004 and the lowest number of Democrats ever recorded in tracking since November 2002."
The gap is likely the result of the way the Democrats conducted themselves during the recent congressional lame duck session, trying to accomplish in two months what they had been unable to do over the course of the last two years.
Even though they were successful on some high profiles issues--such as the repeal of the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy--they did little to reassure the American people that they have any ready solutions to the problems that most people rank as the most serious facing the nation, like unemployment and the moribund state of the economy.
In short, even though President Barack Obama's approval numbers remain relatively constant, the data reflects the idea that the American people have lost confidence in the Democrats' ability to govern.
In this, their current state mirrors the GOP's collapse near the end of the Bush presidency. As Rasmussen reports, "The biggest partisan gap advantage ever measured for Democrats was 10.1 percentage points in May 2008. In December 2008, the final full month of the Bush administration, the Democrats held an 8.8-percentage-point advantage." Looking ahead to the 2012 election, Obama and the Democrats are starting out with a distinct disadvantage.