This is a positive sign for the eventual Republican presidential nominee, and for the GOP's chances at recapturing the Senate in 2012. But Republicans still lag behind Democrats in terms of party identification (31% to 27%). Therefore if Republicans are going to make the necessary gains in 2012, they are going to have to fine tune their economic message and improve their appeal to the middle class. Still, there is a silver lining for the GOP in 2012 according to Gallup's Jeffrey M. Jones:
Despite the Democratic advantage in party identification, proportionately more American independents lean to the Republican Party than to the Democratic Party. Thus, when independents' party leanings are taken into account and combined with the party's core identifiers, the parties end up tied. In 2011, 45% of Americans identified as Republicans or leaned to the Republican Party and 45% identified as Democrats or leaned Democratic.
This is similar to 2010, when the Democrats had a 1-point advantage in leaned party identification, but remains well below the 12-point Democratic advantage in 2008 -- the largest Gallup has recorded for either party since it began regularly measuring leaned party identification in 1991.