Gallup: Record Number of Americans Political Independents
A record number of Americans (42%) identified themselves as political independents in 2013, according to Gallup, which has been conducting polling for 25 years.
As Gallup notes, "In each of the last three years, at least 40% of Americans have identified as independents. These are also the only years in Gallup's records that the percentage of independents has reached that level."
In addition, "the percentage of Americans identifying as independents grew over the course of 2013, surging to 46% in the fourth quarter," which is "a full three percentage points higher than Gallup has measured in any quarter during its telephone polling era."
Though Republican identification fell to 25%, which is "the lowest over that time span," Democratic identification (31%) still "matches the lowest annual average in the last 25 years." Though the national Republican Party tries to court more moderate voters, the rise of the Tea Party movement has appealed to voters who consider themselves conservatives and want nothing to do with the national GOP. This may be reflected in Gallup's findings that Democrats still maintain a "six-point edge in party identification," even when "partisan leanings" are taken into account. "All told, then, 47% of Americans identify as Democrats or lean to the Democratic Party, and 41% identify as Republicans or lean to the Republican Party," Gallup writes.
Gallup concludes that "Americans are increasingly declaring independence from the political parties" and the general trend has been "toward greater percentages of Americans identifying with neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party."
"The rise in political independence is likely an outgrowth of Americans' record or near-record negative views of the two major U.S. parties, of Congress, and their low level of trust in government more generally," Gallup writes, adding:
"Because U.S. voters are less anchored to the parties than ever before, it's not clear what kind of appeals may be most effective to winning votes. But with Americans increasingly eschewing party labels for themselves, candidates who are less closely aligned to their party or its prevailing doctrine may benefit."