“Independents” Are Growing Because Republicans Are Shrinking

As the election season approaches, the analysis of important voting blocks that could swing the results has already begun. Often it is the women’s vote, or the millennials, or communities of color.

Then of course there is that fabulous catch-all known as the elusive “independents,” that voting block that follows no rules, belongs to no major party, subscribes to no strict set of policy beliefs and allegedly is there for the taking of any political candidate that can figure out the right set of legislative promises in order to capture their attention.

The “independents” are back in the limelight again, as according to political pundits their numbers have now swelled to make them bigger than either those who identify as Democrats or those who identify as Republicans combined.

“A recent NBC poll confirms that the partisan political environment is, in fact, taking a toll on the two major parties, with voter registration revealing that self-identified independents are the fastest growing voting bloc in America,” reports IVN.com. “NBC commentators coin it ‘the rise of an ‘independents’ era,’ reporting that in 2014 the number of people self-identifying as independent was at 39 percent, passing that of Democrats (32 percent) and Republicans (23 percent). As of June 2015, the number of self-identifying independents has grown to 45 percent — just 2 points shy of the number of Democrats and Republicans COMBINED.”

Are independents really rising? Well, sort of. But a closer look at NBCs numbers show it’s not quite as simple as that. Despite being unwilling to directly come out and say so, independents are growing because the Republican party itself is hemorrhaging members.

“Data from the Pew Research Center shows independents are now the biggest partisan group in the United States. The percentage of people self-identifying as independent was 39% in 2014. The number for Democrats is 32% and for Republicans it is 23%,” explains Meet the Press. “Just 10 years ago, 31% of Americans identified as independents, in between Democrats at 33% and Republicans at 29%. And, perhaps more notable, that current 39% represents the highest measure of independents in 75 years, according to Pew.”

People who say they are independents increased by eight percentage points in the last decade, but the number of people identifying as Democrats went down just a mere percentage point. Those who want to be labeled Republicans, on the other hand, went down a massive six points. Especially telling is the fact that the states that NBC points to as having the largest independent or no party designations are places like Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire or North Carolina, all of which still have more moderate political streaks and often high level Democratic office holders.

All it takes is a quick peek at our current Republican representatives to get a clear picture of why many are picking “independent” instead of Republican. With the religious right dominating the policy planks of the GOP, there is no longer any room in the tent for those who support marriage equality, believe in reproductive rights, support fair housing and voting or workers rights or believe that there is more to government than guns, religious liberty and big business interests. While the current slate of Republican presidential candidates is fighting over who has the best plan for stopping immigration or denying gay couples a marriage license, a vast majority of small government moderate conservatives no longer has anyone fighting to representing them on the ballot.

“Pundits… frequently claim that political polarization goes both ways. That’s actually not true. While the polarization is real, it’s asymmetric — Republicans have run much further right than Democrats have moved left,” writes Michigan political commentator Susan J. Demas. “Sure, Democrats have moved left on some issues, like marijuana and gay marriage. But so have voters – so you have a party being responsive to the electorate. Republicans, on the other hand, are not. They’ve become ‘ideologically extreme … unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science,’ as Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institute notes.”

Are independents growing? Yes, and they are going to continue to do so as the GOP continues to move further to the right, and reject anyone who won’t move with them. Luckily, that provides Democrats with an excellent voter pool to draw from heading into 2016.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

150 comments

Jim Ven
Jim V3 years ago

thanks for the article.

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Jim Ven
Jim V3 years ago

thanks for the article.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Regus Slantei
Regus Slantei3 years ago

Danny Boy,

You claim:
"I can make accurate statements, support them with valid links, but I cannot make you see past your own blind spots."

#1 -- "...seeing past blindspots..." Really? That is one stinking pile of rotting HYPOCRISY coming from the likes of you.
#2 -- At a rate of around 90%, it is my experience over the months that your so-called "valid links" not only have FAILED, but FAILED MISERABLY, at providing the claimed support for your fairytales. Now let's be CLEAR on this point: exhibiting that level of nitwittery is EXACTLY why I think you are a MORON...its one thing to provide one-sided, cherry-picked links that support your pre-ordained conclusions (at least then there is some level of primeval self-consistency)......but it is quite another to be so frantically deluded and/or so abysmally intellectually broken that you provide links that in fact DON'T even come close to supporting your insipid claims.

" There is more to politics than the far left and right, which this thread is trying to explain."

#1 -- No, this thread is NOT trying to explain that. That is NOT the subject of the story. And only you and your playmate Eric have tried to HIJACK the comment-thread to that end....but the REALTY is that two neo-nitwits, whose every disjointed and disingenuous claim along these lines has been demolished, do NOT get to determine the subject of the thread.

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld3 years ago

Brian F.,
Making false accusations only hurts your cause. Just like leading a horse to water, I can make accurate statements, support them with valid links, but I cannot make you see past your own blind spots. There is more to politics than the far left and right, which this thread is trying to explain.

Women in equal positions and equal experience to men are earning within 7% of men, with most of the difference attributed to child rearing activities. That is a choice (although sometimes a necessity), and cannot be legislated. Neither side acknowledges global warming accurately. One denies man's involvement, the other denies nature's. Both sides support corporate America, they just choose different companies to support. I would like to believe that money alone does not win elections. However, recent history does not support your premise. The Republican party raised more money in 2000 and 2004, while the Democrats raised more in 2008 and 2012. I find it rather humorous that you blame the Republican party for a failing economy, when Democrats have been in charge equally as king as Republicans, since the turn of the century.

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Brian F.
Brian F3 years ago

Dan B The republicans who you support are refusing to support equal pay for women, refusing to raise the minimum wage, acknowledge Global Warming, end Citizens United, end corporate welfare, and support our transition into clean renewable energy. The GOP who you support, only supports the rich and corporations who are making record profits. You can't win an election with money alone. Your republican party will lose badly in 2016, to Bernie Sanders because you are alienating to many voters who are hurting now because of your failed top down trickle down economic theories that are forcing millions into poverty and food stamps.

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Regus Slantei
Regus Slantei3 years ago

That's pretty funny there Danny boy. Like any good savant, you memorize and play with lots of numbers....without a clue as to what they really mean.

What an incredibly STUPID statement about [D]s lying about the pipeline.....one that I and others have already trashed you on in a previous thread. Whatever rises to your definition of a "lie", are you really trying to have the rest of us believe that the [R] pipeline supporters did not tell an equal amount of so-called "lies"? You claim to be so balanced, but you have time and time again, consistently proven yourself here on Care2 to be a blatant partisan apologist for anything rightwing.

Do your current poll numbers indicate to you the smashing your political balls are going to undergo once again in 2016? Will you once again be sitting breathless and slack-jawed in front of FoxNews on your TV as the rightwing brain-trust touts yet another of their baseless and contrived polls that predict a [R] winner, only to be disappointed when reality hits yet again, and maybe the likes of Karl Rove will once again sit in front of the FoxNews cameras with one thumb shoved up his ass and the other one in his mouth, as he begins to play 'switch' to the horror and embarrassment of all you sad true-believers in the TV audience? I can't wait.

The Club of Idiots already has **16** uber-idiots salivating over who can continue to embarrass the [R] party the most. If you took the best parts of those 16 [R] brains, you still couldn't

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld3 years ago

Robert H.,
While extremism may well be the reason for the party exoduses, it is not unique to the GOP. If you examine the gallup polls since 2004, both parties have seen their support fall from about 35%. The Republicans dropped first, falling to ~27% during the 2008 election, and then to 25%. The Democrats enjoyed a bump during the 2008 election, but have since dropped to about 27%

More telling is those that "lean" towards one party or the other. This is where the Independents are shifting in and out. Starting in 2006 and through the 2008 election, the Democrats were consistently above 50% (peaking at 55%). It dropped to 45% in 2010, got another bump up to 49% during the 2012 eletion cycle, and has fallen back to 44%. The Republicans has seen the opposite, falling from 45% to under 40% leading up to the 2008 election. Those numbers rebounded to 44% in 2011, dipping again in 2013, before climbing back to today's 44%, similar to those that lean Democratic.

Independents have risen from 30% in 2004 to 45% today, gaining from both political ranks. First from the Republican party from 2005-2008, and then from the Democrats from 2009-2012. They have gained from both parties over the past three years.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/15370/party-affiliation.aspx

The leaners have been most telling in the elections, with the Republicans peaking in 2004, 2010, and 2014; and the Democratics peaking in 2006 - 2008, and 2012. We will how these trends continue into 2016.

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Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm3 years ago

Republicans are leaving the party. Its not the Left deserting the democrats. The left is not NEAR as extreme as the right has become so people are refusing to say they are WITH this brand of Republicanism. Trying to blame it on both sides is a tired and wasteful argument.

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld3 years ago

Brian F.,
You are forgetting about the Democratic sponsors who are making billions from shipping oil by rail and ship, because they lied about the pipeline. Different side, different corporate ownership. Making billions in profits, paying Democratic politicians to lie about it, and contributing to it. Wow! Some difference!

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