Five Facts about Independent Voters
While Washington, D.C. often sees things only in shades of Republican red or Democratic blue, beyond the Beltway, American voters have a different view. Both of the two major political parties are disliked by a majority of Americans, and choosing to identify as an independent is becoming more and more popular. Here are Five Facts about independent voters in America.
1. They are far and away the largest voter bloc in the country.
Last month, Gallup, which tracks the political affiliations of Americans, found that 49% of American voters now consider themselves as independent, compared to 25% for both Republican and Democrat. It’s a huge flip from less than two decades ago – In 2004, only 31% of voters identified as independent, less than those who identified as either Republican (33%) or Democrat (35%).
2. Younger voters overwhelmingly identify as independent.
A 2022 study by Gallup shows that more Millennials and Gen Z Americans – the two youngest cohorts – identify as Independent than as either Republican or Democrat combined. The survey found that 52% of both generations consider themselves Independent, while only 21% of Millennials identify as Republican and 27% as Democrat. Likewise, only 17% of Gen Z identifies as Republican and 31% as Democrat.
3. Independent voters are blocked from participating in presidential primary elections in 15 states.
Despite them making up the largest bloc of the electorate, in many states, including swing states like Pennsylvania and Arizona, it’s impossible for independents to participate in the presidential primary elections that determine the choices in the general election, according to openprimaries.org. In an additional eight states, the Republican Party continues to bar independents from voting in their presidential primary.
4. Independent voters are often the deciding factor in elections.
Despite being oftentimes excluded from the primary process, independent voters can still decide the results of elections. In 2016, a strong turnout for Republicans by independents helped propel Donald Trump past Hillary Clinton in a number of swing states vital to staging one of the biggest political upsets in history. Four years later, independent voters flipped, turning out for Joe Biden by a nine-point margin. As an analysis by Axios notes: “Every election since 2004 — except 2012 — has seen the White House, Senate or House flip control. Antsy, unsatisfied independent voters are the reason.”
5. A majority of independents have negative views of both Joe Biden and Donald Trump.
Most independent voters aren’t looking forward to a potential 2020 rematch in next year’s presidential election. An NPR/Marist poll from March showed only 34% of independents want Trump to run for president again. Likewise, roughly two-thirds of independents disapprove of Biden’s performance as president.