The Independents

About three in 10 Americans identify themselves as "independent." A new Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation-Harvard University poll looks at their evolving impact on U.S. politics. The tabs below identify five types of independents.

How the Groups Were Identified

This report divides independents into five segments based on an analysis of survey respondents' answers to five groups of questions.

We assessed each respondent's level of partisanship, their confidence in the political system, the extent to which their views find representation in the two-party system and their political interest and activity. The fifth scale measured social and fiscal ideology.

These five categories of questions were used in a statistical procedure called cluster analysis to identify the groups of independents. Individuals who gave similar answers were grouped together.

For example, “deliberators” scored low on partisanship, high on confidence, high on interest representation, moderate on political interest and low on ideological displacement.

Q: In general, do you think the two-party system does a pretty good job of addressing the issues that are most important to people like you, or not?

Deliberators65%
Republicans54%
Disengaged53%
Democrats45%
Disguised Reps33%
Dislocated32%
Disguised Dems25%
Disillusioned11%

Q: Was the Iraq war worth fighting?
%saying “strongly not worth fighting”

Disguised Dems81%
Democrats73%
Dislocated67%
Disillusioned67%
Disengaged43%
Deliberators39%
Disguised Reps22%
Republicans18%


© 2007 The Washington Post Company