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.
They are not, however, identical to avowed partisans. They are more negative about politics today, more likely to have supported an independent or third party candidate in the past and are more open to an independent presidential candidacy now.
In other instances, disguised partisans seem more partisan than Democrats and Republicans themselves.
Walking and talking Democrats, these independents lean overwhelmingly toward the Democratic Party; two-thirds always or mostly support Democratic presidential candidates.
They are more tuned in to government and politics than rank-and-file Democrats, and 13 percent said they get a lot of information about politics from blogs (the most of any group).
They also have even more negative attitudes than Democrats about the Bush administration, the war in Iraq and politics generally. Nearly six in 10 said they are “angry” about Bush’s policies.
For 2008, this group is solidly Democratic, but three-quarters would seriously consider voting for an independent.
In their votes and policy preferences, these independents are largely indistinguishable from those who call themselves Republicans.
Six in 10 always or mostly vote for GOP presidential candidates, 57 percent say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases and two-thirds believe the Iraq war was worth the costs.
They are more likely than Republicans to single out immigration as the most important issue of the day and also more likely to advocate that most illegal immigrants here now be deported.
Two-thirds call Ronald Reagan the greatest modern president.
For 2008, this group is solidly GOP, although many would consider an independent.