Record-High Percentage of American Independents

Gallup’s party identification poll found that the percentage of American identifying as independents hit a record high in 2011.  Gallup cites "the sluggish economy, record levels of distrust in government, and unfavorable views of both parties" as causes for this record.  These results, however, closely mirror recent results in the year directly preceding a presidential election year.  Spikes in independent political affiliation also occurred in 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2007.
As in most years since 1988, Democrats outnumber Republicans, 31% to 27%.  When measuring party identification including independent leanings, however, those identifying as Republican or leaning Republican constituted 45% of respondents, equaling the 45% responding as Democrat or leaning Democratic.  Though Democrats and Democratic leaners led by one percent in 2010, this gap is significantly smaller than Gallup’s poll results since 2004.  Says Gallup: "If national conditions and the political environment do not change appreciably…independent identification – even if it declines – will probably remain on the higher end of what Gallup has measured historically."
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