More people in the United States than ever are breaking away from the political duopoly by refusing to self-identify as either Democrat or Republican — and they now effectively comprise the true silent majority: Independents.
According to a Gallup poll released Monday, for 2015, just 29% of respondents call themselves Democrats, while 26% identify as Republicans — but fully 42% say ‘nay’ to both parties and claim to be Independents, down only marginally from 43% last year. Indeed, Independents as a group reached 40% of the population for the first time in 2011, and have comprised at least that percentage since then.
Before Gallup began polling by phone in 1988, “there were several years when the average percentage of Republican identifiers … was lower than 25%.” But for Democrats, that self-identification reached a 27-year low, down from the previous year’s 30% — and because “data from 1951-1987 collected in person never found a yearly average Democratic identification less than 37%,” it is “safe to conclude that the current 29% is also the lowest in Gallup polling history.”
When pressed further, 16% of Independents admitted leaning Democratic and another 16% admitted a Republican tendency, evidencing the weight of the two-party system on voters’ feelings, as Gallup pointed out, “because in most elections, voters are asked to choose a candidate from one of the two parties.”
What could explain this virtual nadir in party identification? It’s the gub’ment, stupid.
For the second year in a row, exasperation with the government topped the U.S. populace’s list of pressing grievances in a separate Gallup poll. They named it the nation’s number one problem more often than the ubiquitous ‘economy.’ In fact, of the last 15 years, the economy was the top complaint eight times — including each of the six years prior to the government, itself, taking first place in 2014.
With party fervor inevitably headed for a crescendo with the 2016 presidential race in full swing, perhaps the lackluster red and blue loyalty evidences the precursor to a shift. Imagine the possibilities should this silently growing majority decide to cast votes outside the two-party platform. Maybe, just maybe, these Independents have begun to see the duopoly for what it is — two sides of the same tarnished coin.