Gallup: Independent Political ID in U.S. Lowest in Six Years

This isn’t good news for those of us who are independents. But there are still a lot more of us then either of them. 

  • 39% of Americans identified as independents in 2016
  • First time below 40% since 2010
  • Democrats maintain advantage in party affiliation accounting for leanings

PRINCETON, N.J. — An average of 39% of Americans self-identified as political independents in 2016, down from 42% in 2015 and reaching its lowest point in six years. Meanwhile, identification with both major parties edged up, with Democrats continuing to maintain a slight advantage over Republicans, 31% to 28%.

U.S. Party Identification, Yearly Averages

The results are based on combined data from multiday Gallup polls conducted throughout 2016, including more than 17,000 interviews with U.S. adults aged 18 and older.

After ranging between 31% and 39% in Gallup’s telephone polling data starting in the late 1980s, the percentage of independents reached 40% in 2011 and remained near that level through 2015 — including a high of 43% in 2014. But in 2016, independent identification dropped three percentage points from its 2015 reading, falling below the 40% mark.

Gallup has measured similar declines in the percentage of independents in most other recent presidential election years, except in 1992 and 2012. On average, the decline has been three points. The visibility the presidential campaign gives to the two major parties, and the resulting attachment Americans may feel to the party of their preferred candidate, may explain this cyclical drop in the percentage of independents.

Via Gallup