More Americans than ever now identify themselves as neither Republican nor Democrat, but as political independents. That's the result of a new Gallup survey of more than 18,000 people over the course of last year. The survey shows 42% of respondents now identify as independent, the highest number since this survey began 25 years ago. Meanwhile, 31% identified as Democrats, and 25% as Republicans. The Republican identification is the lowest in 30 years, while the Democrat number is down from 36% in 2008.
The numbers are not surprising to Linda Curtis with the Texas League of Independent Voters. "The issue isn't that (independents) are out there, the real surprise is that independent voters have no political power in the current system that's very two-party dominated," she tells KTRH. Curtis explains that her group and others have formed in response to the increasing number of voters who are fed up with the status quo. "People just don't know what to do, the parties are spoiling the whole soup," she says. "We don't have political independence...where politicians, regardless of party affiliation, work on the issues and try to represent the best policy."
While the largest percentage of Americans are independent, they are still essentially asked to choose between the two major parties come election time. Curtis blames that on a system that's rigged to keep one party or another in power. "You have Gerrymandered districts every couple of years, so nobody knows who their Congressperson is, and it's set beforehand that it's going to be either a Democrat or Republican district," she says. Because independents by definition come from all political perspectives, it's unlikely they'll gather in one massive movement. But Curtis says groups like hers just want to make the system more fair and open. "Small-i, non-partisan, independent voters and independent-thinking people--we've got to take our country back."