If you’ve ever been in a conversation about politics, you’ve probably heard someone say, “I don’t like either party” or “Politics is just so ugly these days.” That person also may have claimed not to identify as a Democrat or a Republican but as an independent instead.
Today, that person is pretty representative of how Americans identify politically. The share of Americans who say they’re independent has climbed considerably, according to Gallup’s quarterly party affiliation data. In the late 1980s, roughly one-third of Americans identified as Democratic, Republican or independent. Now, 40 percent or more identify as independent, while the share who identify as Democrats or Republicans has fallen to around 30 percent or lower.