More Americans Than Ever Identify as Politically Independent


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With experiences still feeling sour and House Republicans' government shut down still fresh in peoples' minds, more Americans than ever are turning away from the two major U.S. political parties.

A new Gallup poll this week shows that 42% of Americans now identify as politically independent. This finding represents a new high for American independents in Gallup's polling.

Along with the rise in independents came recent drops in party identification for both Democrats and Republicans.

Americans who identify as Democrats fell from 36% in 2008 to just 31% in 2010. This 31% average has remained steady for the past three years.

Republican identification has now hit 25%, the lowest Gallup has seen since it started polling on party identification in 1988. This number represents a significant 9% drop from the 34% of Americans who identified as Republican in 2004.

Taking political leanings into account, Gallup found that 47% of Americans identify or lean toward the Democratic party, while only 41% identify or lean toward the Republican party.

Though Gallup points out that Americans tend to identify as more independent in non-election years, the polling firm does believe that recent trends toward not identifying with either of the major U.S. political parties is significant. These views are almost certainly related to recent political events, as party identification was particularly low near the end of the fourth quarter in 2013 (29% for Democrats, 22% for Republicans). Most Americans now believe that the current congress is the worst they have seen in their lifetime, a sentiment that could be driving independent identification in recent months.