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.

Disengaged: A World Apart


[Chart: How disengaged independents responded to our poll questions]

These independents are largely removed from the political fray, often by choice.

Fewer than four in 10 are registered to vote and fewer than two in 10 pay “a lot” of attention to politics. Three-quarters say “not being very interested in politics” is a reason they are independent.

Most view both Democrats and Republicans favorably and more than half express confidence in the government in Washington to make the right decisions for the country’s future. And a majority feels the two-party system does a pretty good job of addressing issues that are important to them.

They lean Democratic for 2008, but as a group they are low-yield given their relative disenchantment, disinterest and general contentment with status quo. While they are about a quarter of all independents, they comprise only about three percent of all registered voters.

They are open to an independent candidacy, but again the potential is limited.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company