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.

Disguised Partisans: Independent in Name Only

Disguised Partisans

These independents think like partisans; they also tend to vote like them. And naturally, they come in two flavors — “Disguised Democrats” and “Disguised Republicans.”

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.

Disguised Democrats

[Chart: How disguised partisans responded to our poll questions]

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.

Disguised Republicans

[Chart: How disguised partisans responded to our poll questions]

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.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company