Independents now outnumber Republicans, Democrats; Americans awaken to the two-party system scam
J. D. Heyes
For years, they have been sought after by both major parties as the one political demographic that could swing national elections in their favor, and going forward into 2016 and beyond, voters who identify themselves as neither Republican nor Democrat, but as “independent,” will become even more important.
That’s because the number of independents has grown dramatically in recent years — so much so that now they outnumber voters who describe themselves as belonging to one of the two primary parties. It’s a sign, say political scientists, that more voters are becoming frustrated with a “two-party system” in which they see little difference between choices.
As reported by The Washington Times:
Republican, Democrat — and Maverick? We already know that Americans are weary of Congress, the White House, gridlock and government. Now that ire has inspired voter defections: The number of self-described ‘independents” is at a record high level says substantive new Gallup research.
“An average 43 percent of Americans identified politically as independents in 2014,” said analyst Jeffery M. Jones, who adds that that number is the highest since he began tracking party affiliation in 1988.
Both parties losing faithful
Otherwise, the breakdown is thus: 30 percent surveyed identified themselves as Democrats, while 26 percent said they were Republicans, based on a meta-analysis of 15 polls involving 16,500 people conducted throughout 2014.
“Dissatisfaction with government has emerged as one of the most important problems facing the country, according to Americans. This is likely due to the partisan gridlock that has come from divided party control of the federal government. Trust in the government to handle problems more generally is the lowest Gallup has measured to date, and Americans’ favorable ratings of both parties are at or near historical lows,” Jones said.
What’s more, political analysts — and political parties — ought to prepare for even more defections.
“Given historical trends, 2015 could bring a new record, as the percentage identifying as independents typically increases in the year before a presidential election,” said Jones.
In January 2014, Gallup published the results of a survey showing that nearly two-thirds of Americans — 65 percent — said they were “dissatisfied” with their government system and how it was working (or, more correctly they felt, not working).
The figure was the highest since 2001, and higher than the previous peak of 64 percent in 2012.
The discontent was also skewed towards Republicans and independents, while Democrats remained fairly consistent — understandable, given President Obama’s Democratic Party affiliation:
Republicans and independents are largely responsible for the overall decrease in satisfaction with government effectiveness in recent years. Satisfaction among Republicans and independents began to wane during President George W. Bush’s final year in office. This may have reflected mounting public dissatisfaction with the Iraq war, coupled with the Democratic takeover of Congress after the 2006 midterm elections.
Both groups’ overall satisfaction rate dropped again between 2008 and 2011, as both party brands began to suffer amid a spate of bad economic news and passage of laws that were (and remain) politically unpopular, such as the Affordable Care Act.
“Republicans’ satisfaction went from a peak of 79% in 2005 to a low of 28% in each of the past two years. Meanwhile, Democrats’ satisfaction has been remarkably steady, generally hovering near 50%, and is essentially the same as it was in 2004 under a Republican president,” said Gallup.
Voter dissatisfaction with Congress overall has been declining in recent years. In 2011, The New York Times reported that just 12 percent of Americans held a favorable view of the Legislative Branch.
The following year, CBS News reported a new low — just 10 percent approval — of Congress.
In November, during the midterm elections, CNN reported that eight in ten voters expressed dissatisfaction with Congress, while most were also dissatisfied with President Obama’s job performance.