The most recent poll of party identification by Gallup has found an average 43 percent of Americans identified politically as independents in 2014, a new record for the polling organization.
The uptrend in independents directly corresponds to the downtrend in Republican self-identification, both in the post-1990 period, and the post-2005 period. Both major downturns occurred while a Republican was in the White House.
The findings are remarkably similar to another, “Analysis of Party Self-Identification in America,” by Norman Analytics and Research for the Market Research Foundation.
This independent analysis showed 45 percent are self-identified independents in October 2014, confirming Gallup’s result of 43 percent average for 2014. It digs into the question of who self-identifiers are, including Republicans and independents, and where they stand on issues.
The key finding: “Independents are nearly twice as likely to have conservative views as liberal ones.”
In the Market Research Foundation study, for example, 35 percent of independents considered themselves to be economically conservative, compared with just 14 percent saying they were economically liberal. The rest fell in between.
Meaning, any uptick in independents self-identification corresponding with downtick in Republicans indicates that new independents are more likely to be disaffected Republicans.
The two studies confirm more recent findings by pollster Pat Caddell. In an interview with Breitbart News’ Robert Wilde, pollster Caddell reported that, “The alienation among Republican voters is so high,” and that conservatively “a quarter to one-third of the Republican party are hanging by a thread from bolting.”
In a recent poll by Caddell conducted, 84 percent of GOP voters and leaners said they were less likely to support if their member votes to use taxpayer money to implement Obama’s amnesty.
That would explain why the long-term slide of Republican self-identification has resulted directly in the rise of independents. The disaffection is real.
More conservatively, the Market Research Foundation study found of independents “their hesitation in aligning with the Republican Party could come from a variety of sources. This hesitation is enough to encourage them to say they vote for a variety of candidates. In reality, with encouragement to support individual candidates rather than the Republican Party or its entire platform, these individuals will likely support conservative candidates more often than not.”
And: “they choose not to self-identify with the Republican Party so attempts to convince them to adopt the full Party platform will be unsuccessful. Instead, Independents are likely to support individual candidates with conservative views, allowing them to keep their preferred distance from a major political party.”
Independents are “gettable” — and Republicans will not long survive as a national party without them — but what is not widely known about them are their conservative views, particularly on economic, fiscal, education, and health care issues.
Considering the combined results of all the studies, Republicans risk extinction if they move too far off the reservation, particularly on issues like immigration and health care. The greater number of conservative independents, the fewer Republicans there are.
The only way Republicans stop the erosion of self-identification is to reconnect to the conservative views of the voters they need to win elections. Pursuing any other course might be electoral suicide.
By Robert Romano, senior editor of Americans for Limited Government. Reproduced with permission.