More county elected officials self-identify as Republicans than as Democrats, a gap that has widened significantly since 2004, according to a new survey. But the 2012 National Survey of County Elected Officials, by the National Association of Counties (NACo), found that county officials of both parties overwhelmingly agree that the nation is on the “wrong track” politically.

Fifty-two percent of officials self-identified as Republicans, compared to 31 percent who identified themselves as Democrats. That is a marked difference from previous presidential election years, 2004 and 2008, when officials self-identified at about 40 percent each for Democrats and Republicans.

Not all elected county officials have to declare a party to run for office. However, many personally identify with a party.

A majority of county leaders agree on the most serious problems facing the nation. Fifty-four percent of those polled said the economy, jobs or the recession are among the nation’s worst problems.

Sixty-seven percent of respondents said the nation’s politics and policies are on the wrong track. Only 26 percent said things are heading in the right direction. Those responses broke down largely along party lines. Only 8 percent of Republicans said the country is on the right track, compared to 61 percent of Democrats and 17 percent of independents.

“The data this year showed that national-level partisan politics have reached the local level,” said Jacqueline Byers, NACo director of research. The telephone survey included a random sample of about 500 elected county leaders. This is the ninth year NACo has conducted the survey.