A Closer Look at “Independent Voters” Reveals That Most Are Not

A Closer Look at “Independent Voters” Reveals That Most Are Not

We broke down the mid-March Pew Research Study of self-described “Independent Voters”  and found several interesting data points of use for progressive candidates and campaigns.

It’s More the Party Label Than The Party’s Issues

  • Almost three-fourths of those who call themselves “Independents” are indeed partisans (as illustrated by their issue preferences) who just vote less.
  • These voters are generally fine with the blunt labels of “Conservatives” or “Liberals.”
  • Democratic closet partisans are more likely to call themselves “Moderates” than “Liberals” by 45/39 margin.
  • Republican closet partisans are more likely to call themselves “Conservatives” than “Moderates” by a wider 51/39 margin.

Voter Participation

In general, these “Closet Partisans” are registered at lower rates and therefore turnout at lower rates than self-admitted partisans. Closet Republicans hold a registration edge but the Closet Democrats vote slightly more often, nullifying much of the advantage.

Antipathy Toward Opposition Party

Closet partisans now mirror the attitudes of party regulars --venom toward the opposition is the norm.  We see with Democratic closet partisans that their distaste for President Trump is actually greater than their GOP counterparts’ hatred to Obama.

How they Differ from the “Party Regulars”

A review of the Pew Report’s crosstabs reveals some important differences between the Closet Partisans and the Party regulars when it comes to broad messaging themes.


Statement                                                                     Closet Rep. vs.

Party Regulars

Approve same-sex marriage                                            +18%

Support for legalized marijuana                                       +15%

Says system rigged for powerful                                      +14%

We should do more for civil rights                                    +9%

Wants smaller government                                              +4%


Statement                                                                     Closet Dem. vs.

Party Regulars

Support Trump tax cuts                                                  +11%

Approval of same-sex marriage                                     +9%

Immigration is a net plus for the nation                          +8%

Oppose expansion of scope of government                 +8%

Support for legalized marijuana                                     +6%

Opposition to the Wall                                                    +3%


To read more about the Pew Study, click here.

As always, we invite you to join our voter research conversation on social media with #chismstrat. 


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