Gallup: Independents Reach Record High in 2013

Wednesday, 08 Jan 2014 12:32 PM

By Courtney Coren

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The number of Americans that identified as independents in 2013 has reached a record high, a shift that has occurred at the expense of the Republicans more than the Democrats, Gallup is reporting.

Forty-two percent of Americans identified as independents, which Gallup says is the highest percentage in 25 years, while only 24 percent of those polled identified as Republicans, the lowest percentage in the same time period. Those identifying as Democrats fell to 31 percent from 26 percent since 2008, but that number has not changed in the last four years.

For the last three years the number of Americans that identified as independents was 40 percent, which was the previous high.

The number of Americans who identified as Republicans peaked at 34 percent in 2004 after former President George W. Bush won his second term. It has fallen nine points since then, with most of the drop occurring during Bush's last term. By the time he left office, the percentage of Americans who identified as Republicans fell six points to 28 percent.

The last time Republican identification was at 24 percent was in 1983, when Gallup still did in-person interviews. However, as the economy improved and former President Ronald Reagan gained more popularity, those who identified as Republicans jumped to 30 percent by 1984.

Democratic identification has fallen five points from 36 percent in 2008, when President Barack Obama was first elected, to 31 percent in 2013. That number is also the lowest its been in 25 years.

Gallup notes that Americans tend to identify as independents in non-election years like 2013, but this trend was strong during the 2012 election year, as well.

The polling company says that the trend adds "a greater level of unpredictability" to the 2014 midterm elections, if fewer Americans are willing to anchor themselves to either party, which could benefit candidates who are not strongly aligned with their parties.

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