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Self-Identified Independents Hit Record High, Self-Identified Republicans Hit Record Low

us-politics-republicans-democrats

According to a new Gallup poll, more Americans identify as Independents than ever before, but the numbers seem to indicate that the increase has come more at the expense of the GOP than the Democratic Party:

PRINCETON, NJ — Forty-two percent of Americans, on average, identified as political independents in 2013, the highest Gallup has measured since it began conducting interviews by telephone 25 years ago. Meanwhile, Republican identification fell to 25%, the lowest over that time span. At 31%, Democratic identification is unchanged from the last four years but down from 36% in 2008.

The results are based on more than 18,000 interviews with Americans from 13 separate Gallup multiple-day polls conducted in 2013.

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.

Americans’ increasing shift to independent status has come more at the expense of the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. Republican identification peaked at 34% in 2004, the year George W. Bush won a second term in office. Since then, it has fallen nine percentage points, with most of that decline coming during Bush’s troubled second term. When he left office, Republican identification was down to 28%. It has declined or stagnated since then, improving only slightly to 29% in 2010, the year Republicans “shellacked” Democrats in the midterm elections.

Not since 1983, when Gallup was still conducting interviews face to face, has a lower percentage of Americans, 24%, identified as Republicans than is the case now. That year, President Ronald Reagan remained unpopular as the economy struggled to emerge from recession. By the following year, amid an improving economy and re-election for the increasingly popular incumbent president, Republican identification jumped to 30%, a level generally maintained until 2007.

Democratic identification has also declined in recent years, falling five points from its recent high of 36% in 2008, the year President Barack Obama was elected. The current 31% of Americans identifying as Democrats matches the lowest annual average in the last 25 years.

As usual the chart tells the story:

Party ID Gallup

 

Things look worse for Republicans if you add Independent “leaners” into the mix:

Party ID Gallup 3

In short, self-identified and “leaning” Republican numbers are at a point nearly as low as they were at the lowest point of the Bush 43 Administration, and at the second lowest point they’ve been at since Gallup began tracking these numbers in the late 80s or early 90s. The poll also found that the percentage of Independents grew from 37% o the population at the start of 2013 to 46% by the end of the year, while the percentage of self-identified Democrats started out 2013 at 33% and ended at 29%, while for Republicans it started out at 27% and ended at 22% Most of the decline in Democratic/Republican self-identification occurred in the final quarter of the year with a +3 point gain for Independents and a -2 point loss for both Republicans and Democrats.

The first thing that comes to mind in looking at this numbers, of course, is the extent to which the numbers tend to fluctuate depending on the relative fortunes of the two major political parties. When things are going badly for either of those parties, some percentage of the people who self-identify with that party tend to start considering themselves to be “Independent,” something which suggests that many people, although by no means all, who call themselves independents are in fact marginal Republicans or Democrats who are taking refuge under the “Independent” banner at some point because they’re in some sense upset with the direction their party has taken, or just plain embarrassed by what their party has turned into.

That last point leads into the probable reason for why we’ve seen a larger drop-off in the number of self-identified Republicans this year than self-identified Democrats. Between the various gridlock stories earlier in the year, and of course the Government Shutdown earlier in the year, it’s quite likely that people who generally consider themselves leaning to the right in some respects, but not nearly as far as the base of the GOP have tended to distance themselves from the Republican brand. Indeed, as we can see from the second chart above, the gap between Republican and Democratic identification that includes Independent “leaners” has been growing significantly over the years and those are the years that coincide with some of the most contentious years on Capitol Hill.

The question, of course, is whether this means anything in terms of election results, and that’s much harder to say. It is worth noting, of course, that the most recent time that the number of self-identified Republicans hit its most recent peak during the first two years of the Bush 43 Administration, and that the last time that GOP and Democratic “leaners” were essentially tied occurred roughly around the time when the GOP recaptured control of the House in 2010, while the period of the widest gap coincides with the period during which Democrats recaptured Congress for the first time in 12 years and won the White House in 2008. At the same time, GOP numbers have been falling steadily since that 2010 period, and they’ve still managed to hold on to the House and seem to be on a track to do that again in 2014 as well as a better than even chance of winning control of the Senate in November, or at least coming very, very close to doing so. So, that suggests that these self-identification numbers may not matter as much as it appears at first glance, and that, at the very least, they aren’t nearly as important as external factors such as the state of the economy and candidate selection. Nonetheless, it would be foolish of the GOP to ignore the fact that it has lost ground in recent years and to perhaps engage in some self-reflection over why that might be the case and how it can be reversed.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Tony W says:

    The Republicans clearly are not conservative enough to appeal to mainstream voters – time to double down on the crazy!

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 2

  2. C. Clavin says:

    Nonetheless, it would be foolish of the GOP to ignore the fact that it has lost ground in recent years and to perhaps engage in some self-reflection over why that might be the case and how it can be reversed.

    It sure it’s just a matter of messaging. For instance making the long-term un-employed understand that cutting their benefits is really for their own good.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  3. beth says:

    I’ve know a lot of people in my neighborhood, church and work circles who call themselves Tea Partiers and swear up and down that their political affiliation is Independent. Not a single one of them has ever admitted to voting anything but Republican. It doesn’t matter much what you call yourself to some pollster – it just matters what lever you pull in the voting booth.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 59 Thumb down 1

  4. mantis says:

    This poll definitely needs unskewing. That’ll make things better.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  5. C. Clavin says:

    @beth:
    Yeah…I bet Doug calls himself an Independent as well.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 3

  6. legion says:

    @beth: Exactly. Regardless of how people answer polls, I predict the mid-term elections this year will yield little surprise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. Kylopod says:

    The question, of course, is whether this means anything in terms of election results, and that’s much harder to say.

    Remember that Romney beat Obama by 5 points among independents according to exit polls. The presumed reason I kept hearing from pundits was that many Republicans have stopped identifying with their party but remain loyal in the ballot box. I wish Gallup had gone into more detail about people’s reasons for becoming independent: among former Republicans, is it because they think the party has become too conservative, or too liberal (or some other reason)? I suspect a lot of it is the latter–rank-and-file righties frustrated at the party’s failure to stop the Obamasaur in its tracks: despite all the reassurances, Obama is still president, the health-care bill is going into effect, and no articles of impeachment have been issued sending the usurper back to his birthplace in Kenya. In other words, it’s more an Erick Erickson phenomenon than an Andrew Sullivan phenomenon–conservative-leaning voters who think the party has gone nuts are outnumbered by the ones whining about a party taken over by RINOS, and showing their true Republicanism by claiming to no longer be Republican (but to still vote for Republican candidates come election time).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  8. john personna says:

    At the top level it seems very simple, when parties have a strong message, they attract voters to their banner. With a weak vision, people drift away.

    Doug does spend some time on the old idea that you can still count the missing, or suggesting that like swallows to Capistrano, they are destinined to return.

    Backwards thinking, either the party becomes attractive in general, or not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  9. john personna says:

    @Kylopod:

    Um, “beat by 5 points” is not the best way to describe a 45:50 split.

    That is pretty close to even, as one might expect.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  10. rory says:

    Anyone who continues to support the Democratic or Republican parties in any way, shape or form should be considered an enemy of the people and Constitution of the United States. The Democratic and Republican parties are the two most dangerous terrorist groups in the US today, probably in the world.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 32

  11. al-Ameda says:

    42%? Preposterous.

    Election results tell us, time after time, that there are nowhere near that many “independents.” I suppose that some would say that many “independents just don’t vote? I’m not buying it.

    I believe that many people lie to pollsters and tell them that they’re independent – it sounds so much more thoughtful and noble to say that you’re “independent.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  12. Rob in CT says:

    This has been going on for years since the GOP brand took a huge hit under Bush the Lesser.

    It goes hand-in-hand with the poll data liberal blogs had fun chewing on the other day (Pew finding a drop in self-identified Republicans’ belief in evolution). People’s beliefs likely didn’t change much. More likely it’s that some Republicans, particularly those who are fine with evilution, stopped self-IDing as Republican (though likely still vote that way).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  13. Tyrell says:

    There is also the Southern wing of the Democratic Party , While most people have the mistaken notion that the south is mainly Republican, that is not entirely true. Many local and state offices are held by elected Democrats who are in the Southern wing. I have been a loyal member of the Southern Democrats since the 1960′s, before I could even vote. Some of the great Democrats: Ervin, Russell, Long, Fulbright, Mills, Nunn, Rayburn, Johnson, and Carter. Pragmatic, centrist. The national Democratic Party was taken over by fringe leadership in the early ’70′s, leading to the disastrous McGovern campaign and Republican victories.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9

  14. stonetools says:

    It’s not really news now that the Republican brand is bad that and that a lot of “independents” are really Republicans who don’t want to call themselves Republicans. What’s news to me is that the Democrats aren’t doing better. Again, this goes back to Obama’s original sin. He thought he was elected to “bring people together” . In fact, he was elected in large part to fix the economy that the Republicans screwed up.. The Republicans correctly deduced that if they stopped him from fixing the economy, they could turn their fortunes around. While Obama was trying to find ways to work with the Republicans on things that he thought (wrongly) they agreed with him on, the Republicans went ahead and tried to block any and everything Obama did, and screwing up everything they couldn’t block. That worked so well that people lost heart that the Democrats’ ability to fix the economy. That’s the reason for the Democrats’ drop.
    IMO, the reason for the drop in both the Democrats and Republican ID is this: a lot of Americans are fed up about the screwed up economy, and they lack faith that EITHER party knows how to fix it.
    Now this year the Democrats and the Obama Administration have started off by giving up even the pretense of working with the Republicans. The Democratic Party message is that what’s wrong with the economy is inequality and have started off by pushing for UI benefits extension. The Democrats are , in short, drawing a sharp distinction between themselves and the Republicans and painting the Republicans as the party of inequality. We’ll see if this works in drawing back those who went away after 2008.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  15. Kylopod says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I believe that many people lie to pollsters and tell them that they’re independent – it sounds so much more thoughtful and noble to say that you’re “independent.”

    Possibly some are lying to pollsters. And possibly some are telling the truth that they have refused to register with a party, which doesn’t automatically tell us anything about their voting patterns. This isn’t just a matter of speculation; there are actual studies showing that a majority of self-identifying independents are closet partisans, in the sense that they vote for one of the two major parties just about as reliably as identifying members of those parties.

    Also, even among the group referred to in these studies as “true independents”–those who really do vary their vote between the parties–there is no reason to assume that they are the most thoughtful of voters, carefully weighing their options and choosing the best candidate regardless of party. That’s what many self-described independents want us to think about them, but in reality most swing voters, regardless of whether they affiliate with a party or not, are largely composed of low-information voters. They’re exactly the reason why so many elections seem to hinge on underlying conditions like the economy, rather than actual voter preferences on the parties’ policy positions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  16. C. Clavin says:

    @Kylopod:

    This isn’t just a matter of speculation; there are actual studies showing that a majority of self-identifying independents are closet partisans, in the sense that they vote for one of the two major parties just about as reliably as identifying members of those parties.

    Refer: Mataconis, Doug.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  17. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:
    Speaking of which…
    A fun story you won’t read about here:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/09/nyregion/christie-aide-tied-to-bridge-lane-closings.html?_r=0

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  18. Woody says:

    John Sides covered this one back in 2009. He has empirical data backing his opinion up.

    This is why I pay little attention to polls that use “self-identified Republican” et al; or “generic Democrat” et al.

    Many of us, most egregiously the determinedly Know-Nothing American media, believe “independent” to mean “nonpartisan” or “bias-free”. It does not mean either of those things. It simply denotes a person who does not wish to self-identify with a political label.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  19. C. Clavin says:

    @Woody:
    In CT we are called “Non-Affiliated”.
    (Of course I registered as “Non-Affiliated” before the GOP went insane.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  20. Mikey says:

    @al-Ameda: What does it take to be “independent?” The exact same thing as it takes to be Democrat or Republican–you call yourself that.

    Sure, in some states one can register with one of the major parties, but that’s not mandatory. And I know plenty of people who identify as Republican or Democrat who are not “card-carrying” members of either party.

    Of course most self-identified independents vote for one of the major party candidates. When it comes down to it, our de facto two-party system leaves no real option for even the truest political independent. Sure, one can vote for a third-party candidate, but that has no effect besides being a form of “protest.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  21. john personna says:

    @Kylopod:

    As someone who is staunchly nonpartisan, perhaps even antipartisan, I have to ask, who are you to reject my strongly held beliefs?

    Also, any data mining will only, indeed by nature of the enterprise, show past correlation.

    The meaning of “partisan” is not “correlates.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  22. Rob in CT says:

    @john personna:

    Nobody is denying your beliefs, John. The data on this indicates that you’re in a minority of independents, is all. A majority vote like partisans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  23. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    You get what I am saying, right? “Votes like” is a correlation claim, and can never be a motivation claim.

    Some fierce independents might have “settled” one way, some the other, given a ballot with only two choices.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. john personna says:

    This:

    This isn’t just a matter of speculation; there are actual studies showing that a majority of self-identifying independents are closet partisans, in the sense that they vote for one of the two major parties just about as reliably as identifying members of those parties.

    claims correlation equals “closet partisanship.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Franklin says:

    @C. Clavin: I actually sort of like Christie, but that scandal is going to destroy his Presidential aspirations. Unless he fires everybody involved and then convinces voters that he knew nothing about it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. Rob in CT says:

    @john personna:

    John, if you call yourself an independent but vote R or D all the time, then you’re not really an indy in any meaningful sense. If you switch back and forth, sure.

    Someone who believes fervently that they examine all the information, evaluate the candidates and make a dispassionate, non-partisan decision and yet always or nearly always vote the same way? Yeah, no, sorry. That’s just self-delusion.

    Look, I’m a registered Dem, but that doesn’t mean I’m locked into voting Dem. If the Dems put up a really objectionable candidate, or the Rs manage to put up a surprisingingly good one, I can still vote the other way. My voting and the voting of your typical dem-leaning indy is probably indistinguishable.

    Whatever. Believe what you want.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  27. Rob in CT says:

    @Franklin:

    Hilariously corrupt and incompetant too! Emails? EMAILS? Morons.

    As others have put it “is it wrong that I’m smiling?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  28. C. Clavin says:

    @Franklin:
    Actually a couple of those involved have already resigned…which doesn’t usually signify innocence.
    What’s truly amazing is that Christie won by a landslide. They didn’t need to do this by any stretch. It was simply petty vindictive bullying.
    In other words; Christie is the perfect Republican presidential candidate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  29. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:
    Actually the proprietors of this fine establishment shouldn’t be too concerned about staying away from the Christie story…apparently Fox is too. So OTB is in fine company.
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/fox-news-christie-scandal

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  30. grumpy realist says:

    How much of the refusal to identify as a member of either of the parties reflects one’s grim determination to never get on any political party’s mailing list?

    There’s a reason I’ve given up donating to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. Donate any money whatsoever, and you are immediately placed on the list to receive a never-ending stream of junk mail. Even if you’ve told them not to do that and that this is a one-time donation only.

    They’d probably receive more money if they didn’t incessantly beg. It just pisses people off.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  31. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    First of all, with two parties and “sampling events” every four years you have far too little data to say you understand underlying voter position, especially over time. Insufficient data.

    Secondly, it is important to note the meaning loaded into “partisan.” It is not even a “dependable vote,” if you had data for that. It is a stalwart, a champion, a believer.

    Note also that the Obama big Data effort did not use such gross groupings. Their triumph was built on an opposite assumption, that many diverse voter groups could be identified and targeted.

    This very much opposed to the partisan/leans simplification.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Also, straight up -1 for this self-delusion stuff.

    That IS straight up denial of a belief system different than your own right?

    If I claimed all partisans were closet independents, then I would be acting with symmetrical insensitivity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  33. John425 says:

    Not showing is the great number of union members who abandoned the union (and subsequently the Democrats) in places like Wisconsin. As soon as they were allowed to quit paying union dues…they did

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 8

  34. KM says:

    just plain embarrassed by what their party has turned into.

    Independent = Ashamed of who my party is in bed with
    Independent = Don’t want to admit out loud who I vote for in this crowd
    Independent = Makes me sound more politically savvy and smart
    Independent = What you mean I have to vote again? I did that like 4 years ago!
    Independent = WTF did they just do?! Nope, don’t know those people, not sure why I’m on their mailing list

    Very very rarely does Independent = true third party choice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  35. john personna says:

    @this:

    Wow, so the idiot downvoter was willing to reject my belief system.

    That should in itself make my case that this IS about putting your values on other human being who are trying to answer for themselves.

    Seriously, this is (in a democracy of all places) “you do not own your beliefs, we will tell you what they are.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  36. john personna says:

    @KM:

    In my case Independent means I can tell you my position on any issue, and you don’t get to infer it, or assume it.

    I am not a Jenos or a Clavin with a predictable response.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  37. john personna says:

    I am pro soda bans and anti bullet trains.

    Seriously, are you going to cram that into one part or the other?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  38. KM says:

    @john personna:

    In my case Independent means I can tell you my position on any issue, and you don’t get to infer it, or assume it.

    Wow, a little defensive, aren’t we? What you just described means you’re educated, informed and opinionated – not Independent per se. There are plenty of Democrat and Republicans who can tell you their positions on any and all issue with data to back them up. Just because you have details doesn’t automatically make you Independent and them not. You don’t get to infer or assume that about anyone else either.

    “you do not own your beliefs, we will tell you what they are.”

    That IS straight up denial of a belief system different than your own right?

    If I claimed all partisans were closet independents, then I would be acting with symmetrical insensitivity.

    Nobody is saying all. We are saying some, many, maybe even most – but not all. The data is saying that. You are…. being rather strident about this. I’m guessing you’ve gotten some crap about your Independent status over the years?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  39. john personna says:

    @KM:

    Isn’t the exact time to be “defensive,” when my values are being denied?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  40. john personna says:

    I mean, if I tell you I HAVE voted Independent, and Republican, and Democratic for President, will you ALLOW me to be independent?

    Where do you get off thinking it is your call?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 8

  41. Rob in CT says:

    WHY ARE YOU MAKING THIS ABOUT YOU?

    It’s all about you, you, you. We’re discussing self-IDing indies in general, John.

    This is actually really sad.

    Seriously, if 90% of self-IDed indies are like we say they are, there’s still 10% for you to fit into. I really do think “true” indies exist. I also think you’re one of them.

    Now will you please quit whining and crying about this?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  42. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    By making it about me I had hoped to demonstrate the cruelty of the “a majority of self-identifying independents are closet partisans” claim.

    No empathy on that?

    I mean I know that I try to honor and respect “self-reports” wherever possible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  43. Rob in CT says:

    To review, John, here is what I actually said:

    John, if you call yourself an independent but vote R or D all the time, then you’re not really an indy in any meaningful sense. If you switch back and forth, sure.

    I should have made it more clear that this is a generic “you” not a “you, John Persona” but even so, it’s clear. If you vote D, R, or other at different times/circumstances (and I know you do because you’ve said so before, at length), then you really are an independent in a meaningful sense, according to me. The person who calls themselves an indie but votes straight ticket R is not. Those people exist, and they outnumber you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  44. steve s says:

    I’ve know a lot of people in my neighborhood, church and work circles who call themselves Tea Partiers and swear up and down that their political affiliation is Independent. Not a single one of them has ever admitted to voting anything but Republican. It doesn’t matter much what you call yourself to some pollster – it just matters what lever you pull in the voting booth.

    Same here. I think it’s the “I’m a rugged individualist who earned everything I have all by myself” mentality that makes them want to pretend they’re fair Independent decision-makers, not just knee-jerk GOP supporters, which is what they are in reality.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  45. john personna says:

    Basically the BS I am attacking is “we saw your last 2-4 election choices, and now we’ve got you pegged.”

    Sorry, no.

    A lot happens between elections. Voters change. Parties change. And the exact Presidential contest is a luck of the draw

    Do you believe a stronger Democrat could have beaten Bush in 2004? Then you cannot also believe “partisan determinism.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  46. Rob in CT says:

    @john personna:

    Cruelty? WTF?

    I have no trouble empathizing with independents. For one thing, I used to be one. In my case, it was partly about appearing above it all, whilst not really being all that informed. Once I started paying more attention, I ended up picking a side (for now). In your case, it’s different. I actually have not questioned that.

    I actually know people who will claim to be non-partisan, but whose other words and actions belie that. Whenever the GOP brand is in trouble, all of a sudden you get lots more indies (“I’m kind of a libertarian, really…”) types. The same was likely true with the Dems when they were really struggling (back then it was “Reagan Democrats” which strikes me as a more accurate label).

    And yes, times change, parties change and voters change. But we’re talking about large numbers of people here, John. Millions of voters. Some folks really do go through ideological evolutions that result in changes in their voting behavior. Many do not, but are simply embarrassed that their side screwed up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  47. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Well thanks there, but I still don’t think (1) a lean is a partisan, and (2) we cannot see at this level what the lean was driven by.

    Say a fiscal conservative leaned left because the was also strongly anti-war. What happens to your lean with no more war?

    See the key here is that a real partisan rises to defend his party’s values. He or she accepts the bundle. You know his position on teachers’ unions or coal plants because you know the party position.

    If our anti-war/capitalist goes to vote when there is no more, he dies not have to change to “lean” differently, but apparently you would say he had.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  48. john personna says:

    @Rob in CT:

    I think it is cruel to just throw out that “90% of independents are suffering self-delusion.”

    I mean, you know “self-delusion” is not a complement, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  49. john personna says:

    Put differently, every independent is telling you, straight up, that he does not endorse either party platform.

    That is useful information, politically, and you give that person basic respect when you say “I understand your position.”

    Now are some independents easier wins for Dems and some easier wins for GOP? Sure but which are which doesn’t have to be static. A war or a recession or a raging recovery can mix that all up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  50. grumpy realist says:

    I remember signing up for “Libertarian” on my first voter’s ID card. (Yeah, during the two weeks I thought that Libertarians might actually have something going for them.) Now I’m happy because it kept me off a huge number of mailing lists.

    (I’m sure the Libertarians are saying that they never contact people who self-identified as Libertarian because Freedom of the Individual and whatnot. The fact is, the Libertarian Party is so disorganized it could screw up a two-car funeral.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  51. grumpy realist says:

    Totally OT, but now I’ve identified a new use for crypto-currencies like Bitcoin: anonymous donations to organizations so you never get placed on a mailing list!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  52. KM says:

    I think it is cruel to just throw out that “90% of independents are suffering self-delusion.”

    Do you know what BIRGing and CORFing are? Actually, anyone even remotely familiar with sports had seen it in action.

    Team winning? Eveyone’s wearing the jerseys, parties galore, YAY TEAM! That’s our boys!! Full house, tickets sold out.
    Team losing? A lot less jerseys in the street. Maybe you’re still a fan but not as loud and proud. A lot of empty seats.
    And then there are the small group of diehard fans, there rain or shine. They’re always loyal regardless of how full the parking lot is. They’re important but will never be enough to fill all the seats.

    This whole poll is CORFing on a massive political scale. Its not a coincidence Repub numbers go down and Indie numbers go up. These aren’t cafeteria voters picking and choosing what issues they want from the ideological buffet – this is a party hemorrhaging voters in name but still getting their votes on a pretty reliable basis. Republican is getting social and religious connotations some voters are uncomfortable with. So they “delude’ themselves by saying they’re Independent now when all they are really rejecting is the bad PR. The “self-delusion” is in claiming Independent status when not being ready to shed party lines or ideology.

    Perhaps a good followup question to suss some of this out in polling is ‘If you weren’t identifying yourself as Independent, which Party most closely aligns with your beliefs?” or “What made you decide to register/vote/self-identify as Independent?” with a couple of options including “My previous party is no longer an ideological match for me” and “I’m uncomfortable identifying as X anymore”. Might help clarify who’s claiming Indie because they are and who’s claiming because its fashionable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  53. john personna says:

    @KM:

    So, you say “claiming Independent status when not being ready to shed party lines or ideology.”

    For that you need the fine grained information. Do we actually know that people who decided to defect did so keeping the new GOP values?

    Isn’t it more sensible to think that diverging values led to defection?

    Occam’s razor even.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  54. KM says:

    @john personna:

    Put differently, every independent is telling you, straight up, that he does not endorse either party platform.

    Uh, no. What they’re telling you is don’t call them a Republican or Democrat. They want to be called Independent.

    You seem to be defining Independent as Cafeteria Voter. There are plenty of Rs and Ds that don’t endorse the party platform and still self-identify. You’re rather rigidly pinholing anyone with ideological differences to a facet of their party as factually Independent. This smacks of the No True Scotsman fallacy – people can claim to be an Indie just for the hell of it, ya know. It’s not like people don’t “lie” to pollsters all the time…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  55. KM says:

    Do we actually know that people who decided to defect did so keeping the new GOP values?

    Define “new”. The Moral Majority and its way of thinking goes back over 20 years at this point, neo-con around the same time. TEA Partiers will tell you the Revolution!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  56. john personna says:

    @KM:

    The lack of distinction between small “I” independent and big “I” form further confuses the issue.

    Small “i” really is saying none of the parties, explicitly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  57. superdestroyer says:

    @john personna:

    Where your strong message is “We will tax the other guy and give the money to you” then it makes sense that the other party will have problems. In a country where 50% of adults do not pay income taxes, 50% of school age children are on free lunch, and 50% of children are born to single mothers, then it makes sense that fewer people will identify with the more conservative party. The the more conservative party is run by people who do not have the skill set to be conservative politicians, then it makes sense that people want to be independents. When what one Republican says is applied to all Republicans but what Democrats say is quickly forgotten, it makes sense people do not want to be Republicans.

    What is amazing is how many people will identify as independents as the U.S. becomes a one party state and the Democratic Primary is the real election for most offices.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  58. john personna says:

    @KM:

    I am asking that you give self-identifiers some basic respect.

    Don’t call them delusional.

    Don’t call them liars.

    Basic humanity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  59. john personna says:

    @KM:

    The rise of Neocon foreign policy was one change, for instance. The casting out of all RINOs is another.

    So if a RINO, like Steven “leaves,” do you say “sorry, no.”

    Is Steven lying or just deluded?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  60. Kylopod says:

    @john personna:

    Basically the BS I am attacking is “we saw your last 2-4 election choices, and now we’ve got you pegged.”

    Please read the John Sides article that I (and later Woody) linked to before, my summation of which you seem to have (somewhat bizarrely) taken offense at. It examines data going back to 1952. A bit more than “your last 2-4 election choices.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  61. john personna says:

    @Kylopod:

    You are conflating the span of the data with the per-voter tracking.

    If an independent has only voted in 2 national elections, what do you do?

    I hope you don’t assume “2 Obamas” is a “partisan Dem.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  62. john personna says:

    As I have said, I prefer this study with a more fine grained analysis of voter types.

    No “2 parties, choose one, or you will be assigned.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  63. KM says:

    @john personna:

    I am asking that you give self-identifiers some basic respect.
    Don’t call them delusional.
    Don’t call them liars.
    Basic humanity.

    No “2 parties, choose one, or you will be assigned.”

    You are taking this incredibly personally. I’m giving self-identifiers the basic respect of using the title they’ve chosen – Independent. However, when I point out that not everyone who uses a title does with sincerity (conscious of it or not), you become upset. You cannot deny that there are those who profess themselves one thing while acting as another (like Doug). There may be no malice in them but there is artifice – actions speak louder then words and by their fruits ye shall know them.

    It’s not denying anyone basic humanity to call bullshit on a bullshitter (even if the only person buying the BS is themselves).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  64. David M says:

    @john personna:

    You may not be a closet partisan, but most voters who identify as independent are. There’s no escaping the fact that voting behavior confirms this. Individual people may actually be independent voters, but “independent voters” in a poll are mostly closet partisans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  65. john personna says:

    @KM:

    Capital-I “Indepenent” is a party. American Independent. So learn that much to start.

    Second, how do you know that my peeps (small-I) are insincere?

    Why shouldn’t I take offense at an unsupported slur against my peeps?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  66. john personna says:

    @David M:

    I really think there are flawed, and cyclical, arguments here.

    The data is only that voters tend to move slowly, and that next vote tends to resemble last vote. Thus if an independent settled for Obama in 08, it would be a good first guess that he’d go for Obama in 12.

    It isn’t actually in that data why he settled though.

    There certainly is nothing in that data to say such a voter is a closet Democrat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  67. john personna says:

    There is nothing in just the information “twice Obama” that means “partisan Democrat.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  68. David M says:

    @john personna:

    Again, this article is fairly persuasive, with the actual numbers and evidence. As always, this is about most independents not all independents.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  69. john personna says:

    @David M:

    I really think my article does more of a bottom up analysis.

    When I say “cyclical” I mean that people who only have two buckets will place everyone in one of two, and then “find” that everyone is in one of two.

    Even worse, as we have seen, shortly after putting “learners” in a bucket, they will declare them partisan.

    Talk about bait and switch, “do you lean? OK you are a partisan.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  70. john personna says:

    If you want to understand voters, you will ask then MANY questions, as my study does.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  71. john personna says:

    “If you had to pick one, which one would it be?”

    “Ha, fooled you, closet partisan!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  72. Grewgills says:

    @john personna:
    You seem to have a much more narrow definition of partisan in this context than most. By your definition most self identified Democrats and Republicans are not partisans. What if instead of partisan we say reliable voter?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  73. Grewgills says:

    @john personna:
    Does Steven then change his voting patterns or does he continue to vote straight ticket Republican?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  74. SC_Birdflyte says:

    I am proud to declare myself a member of the Cafeteria party. In presidential, gubernatorial, and U.S. Senate elections here in South Carolina starting with 1998, I’ve voted Democratic 7 times, Republican 5 times, Libertarian twice. Of course, here a Democrat can be about as conservative as John Boehner and still be tagged as a “tax-and-spend liberal.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  75. Kylopod says:

    @john personna:

    Why shouldn’t I take offense at an unsupported slur against my peeps?

    C’mon, why focus on mere slurs against your peeps? Haven’t they suffered enough from these genocidal statistical studies? You need to set your sights higher, my friend. Start talking about affirmative action for indies. Make an Indie History Month where we get to hear the inspiring life stories of all the great Indie-Americans from H. Ross Perot to Alan Keyes. Crank up the music of Ani DiFranco. Let us all learn how an oppressed minority such as yourself rose up to fulfill the American dream.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  76. Mikey says:

    @Kylopod:

    Crank up the music of Ani DiFranco.

    WIN

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  77. KM says:

    Make an Indie History Month where we get to hear the inspiring life stories of all the great Indie-Americans from H. Ross Perot to Alan Keyes.

    Ah ah ah! Be careful not to confuse independent with Independent (I)! Depriving people of basic humanity, you know – terrible business.

    R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to…. well, who self-identifies that way at the moment!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  78. al-Ameda says:

    Does anybody really believe that 42% of those surveyed are “independent”?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  79. john personna says:

    @Kylopod:

    In other forums I take on racists who use narrow division, like black versus white, and data mine for self-referential justification. For that I am a good guy.

    Here, I fight this idea that independents are “self-deluded” or “liars” because they will not neatly categorize themselves in one of two. For that I am a bad guy.

    I submit that I am the same in both instances.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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