A new poll from the Pew Research Center finds that the number of people identifying as independents is growing. In fact independents now outnumber Republicans and Democrats in terms of party affiliation. The number of Americans now associated with each of the two major parties is at the lowest point of the past 25 years.
As the Democrat and Republican parties become more and more polarized- Democrats becoming more liberal and Republicans edging towards becoming more strictly conservative- Americans find themselves identifying less with what the parties stand for. Parties are beginning to represent the views of political radicals more than moderates. According to the poll,
“Over the past decade, the Republican Party has come to be dominated by conservatives, while liberals make up an increasing share of Democrats.”
The poll goes on to explain that, “Over the past 25 years, the average difference between Republicans and Democrats has grown from
10 points to 18 points.” Currently members of both parties agree that their party is not doing a good job upholding traditional positions.
This polarization and shift toward more extreme sides of the political spectrum has spurred an exodus away from partisan affiliation, encouraging the number of Americans identifying as independents to increase. Both parties are losing support as the number of independents grows. The poll finds that,
“Currently, 38% of Americans identify as independents, while 32% affiliate with the Democratic Party and 24% affiliate with the GOP.”
These recent poll numbers show that the amount of Americans identifying as Democrats has dropped by 4% since 2008. At the same time Republicans have seen a decrease of 5% in 2008 from which they have not recovered.
While the number of independents is increasing, their diversity is growing as well. In terms of race demographics, the portion of Hispanic independents nearly doubled, from 9% to 16% since the year 2000. There is also great diversity among independents concerning political viewpoints. The poll found that, “A plurality of independents (43%) describes their views as moderate, while 30% are conservative and 22% are liberal.”
It remains to be seen whether the Democrat or Republican parties will respond to distaste over increasing polarity or simply continue to watch numbers dwindle.