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Independents Are Republicans in Denial

A recent article by Peyton Craighill in the Washington Post entitled “Public Opinion On the Biggest Economic Worries” contained some interesting information. The article reviewed results of a recent Washington Post – Kaiser Harvard poll about what people are most concerned about in terms of the economy. However, one of the most interesting aspects of the results as they were presented is that people identifying themselves as “Independents” rather than “Republicans” or “Democrats” are closet Republicans – at least when it comes to the economy. Consider this set of responses to the question: “ Which of the following economic issues worry you the most?”

Dem Rep Indep
Job Situation 28 17 18
Budget Deficit 17 30 33
Health Care 29 18 19
Rising Prices 17 17 13
Housing / Finance 4 8 7
Other Mentions 5 8 9

Putting my own numeric filter on the findings, I came up with the following:

The difference between priorities expressed by Democrats and Independents looks like this:

Job Situation 10 Average Delta:
Budget Deficit 16
Health Care 10
Rising Prices 4
Housing / Finance 3
Other Mentions 4


The difference in priorities expressed by Republicans and Independents looks like this:

Job Situation 1 Average Delta:
Budget Deficit 3
Health Care 1
Rising Prices 4
Housing / Finance 1
Other Mentions 1

Therefore, Independents are four times as likely to vote with Republicans on issues, as they are to align with Democrats. If I was a prognosticator of election results, at least at a macro level, I would conclude that if all voters focused on were financial issues, three quarters of Independents would vote along the party lines of Republicans.

This, of course, begs the question: “Why do Independents identify themselves as Independents rather than Republicans? I have seen absolutely no data on this, but I am one of those people. Asked whether I am a Conservative or a Liberal, there is absolutely no question about it. I’m a Conservative. But asked whether I am a Democrat or a Republican, my answer is: “Neither. I am an Independent.” Why? Because I don’t like to be labeled, and because I have voted for both Republicans and Democrats over the last nearly 40 years since I have been eligible to vote. I wonder whether that’s why others define themselves as Independents.

What do you think?

3 Responses to “Independents Are Republicans in Denial”

  1. Diane says:

    You said it perfectly. People do not want to be labeled. Independents want the freedom to vote for the best candidate rather than sticking to a specific party choice. I agree with your assessment.

  2. Marie Luft says:

    I think Independant comes closest to Moderate; that is where I am… middle of the road, and vote for either party, depending on my thinking at the time. I don’t think there’s much room for compromise with the radical right or left, and as you know, our whole life is spent in compromise of one kind or another.

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