A record-high percentage of Americans identified as political independents last year, according to released Monday.
The survey, based on more than 18,000 interviews conducted throughout the year, found that 42 percent identified as independent, the highest figure since the polling firm began conducting interviews by telephone 25 years ago.
In 2013, 31 percent identified as Democrats, while 25 percent identified as Republican. The dominant duo political parties are becoming dinosaurs.
According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans identifying as independents grew as the year progressed — surging in the final three months of the year alongside the federal government shutdown and the troubled debut of the Obamacare website.
Here’s some more unpacking of the numbers from Gallup:
Americans’ increasing shift to independent status has come more at the expense of the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. Republican identification peaked at 34% in 2004, the year George W. Bush won a second term in office. Since then, it has fallen nine percentage points, with most of that decline coming during Bush’s troubled second term. When he left office, Republican identification was down to 28%. It has declined or stagnated since then, improving only slightly to 29% in 2010, the year Republicans “shellacked” Democrats in the midterm elections. Not since 1983, when Gallup was still conducting interviews face to face, has a lower percentage of Americans, 24%, identified as Republicans than is the case now. That year, President Ronald Reagan remained unpopular as the economy struggled to emerge from recession. By the following year, amid an improving economy and re-election for the increasingly popular incumbent president, Republican identification jumped to 30%, a level generally maintained until 2007. Democratic identification has also declined in recent years, falling five points from its recent high of 36% in 2008, the year President Barack Obama was elected. The current 31% of Americans identifying as Democrats matches the lowest annual average in the last 25 years.
Although Gallup notes that it’s common for the percentage of independents to increase in a nonelection year, the uptick in independent identification reflects a trend in recent years toward more Americans eschewing party labels.
The shift toward increased independent status has been more damaging to the GOP than the Democratic Party. Since peaking at 34 percent in 2004, Republican identification has now fallen to 25 percent — the lowest level in 25 years.
The latest evidence of the GOP’s woes — and opportunities — surfaced Wednesday with a Gallup poll that showed the number of Americans self-identifying as independents soared to a record 42 percent while the share of Republicans plunged to an all-time low of 25 percent.
Democratic identification has also declined in recent years but at a lesser rate, falling to 31 percent from a high of 36 percent in 2008, when Barack Obama was elected president.
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