MSNBC was happy to show today that the percentage of Americans self-identifying as Republican has sunk to yet another new low: 20%. Given the behavior of what passes for a Republican party these days, I can’t say I’m disappointed myself.
But instead of just rubbing salt into the festering sore that passes for a Grand Ole Party, I thought I’d pause to consider the party that is growing the fastest:
“None of the Above.”
The Independent Party – or, more accurately, the crowd of individuals who check “independent” on their voter registration cards – is today the largest political bloc in the country. The fact that it doesn’t act or vote as a bloc is even more delicious.
This chart from Nate Silver from April sums up most of the displacement in modern terms. You note some interesting dips and rises in Independents in tandem with rises and dips in Republicans and Democrats.
Pew Research has this combined-sources report tracing the party affiliation of Democrats, Republicans and Independents since FDR in 1939:
And finally, to discount any idea that the growth in the Independent “party” is simply a reflection of Republicans camping out, Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post notes:
Just 17 percent of independents expressed confidence in Republicans’ ability to make the right decision while 83 percent said they did not have that confidence.
So, while the second and third-ranked parties consume most of the oxygen in the public debate, the members of the Number One party watch their antics and decide which lesser party to hire temporarily to fill government offices.
Carry on, Democrats and Republicans. We’re listening.