According to the latest Gallup opinion polls, people who identify themselves as Independent are continuing to increase in numbers in the US. This latest poll shows that in 2013 an average of 42% of people identify as Independent while those who identify as Democratic or Republican have fallen to 31% and 25%, respectively.
This growth in Independent identification has come at the expense of the Republican Party.
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.
The numbers get more interesting when you look at the quarterly breakdown of the 2013 year. When viewed that way, you see an even stronger surge of Independents at the end of the year compared to Democrats and Republicans (46%, 29%, and 22%, respectively).
The percentage of Americans identifying as independents grew over the course of 2013, surging to 46% in the fourth quarter. That coincided with the partial government shutdown in October and the problematic rollout of major provisions of the healthcare law, commonly known as “Obamacare.”
The 46% independent identification in the fourth quarter is a full three percentage points higher than Gallup has measured in any quarter during its telephone polling era.
Personally, I would love to see a similar poll of Oklahomans. While Oklahoma’s Independent registrations have grown over the years, we don’t have registrations that reflect this opinion poll.