The front page of Sunday's Washington Post featured their major new survey of self-identified
political independents conducted with Harvard University
and the Kaiser Family Foundation (story,
report). The survey consisted of a base random sample of 2,140 all adults,
plus an unspecified number of "additional interviews with randomly selected
self-identified independents for a total of 1,014 political independents."
The findings among independents confirm many of the findings
reported elsewhere. Two excerpts from the Post
article (percentages among all independents added in brackets):
Fueled by dissatisfaction with the
president and opposition to the Iraq
war, independents continue to lean heavily toward the Democrats. Two-thirds [67%]
said the war is not worth fighting, three in five [62%] said they think the United States cannot stabilize Iraq, and three in five [62%] believed that the
campaign against terrorism can succeed without a clear victory in Iraq...
Seventy-seven percent of
independents said they would seriously consider an independent presidential
candidate, and a majority [56%] said they would consider supporting Bloomberg,
whose recent shift in party registration from Republican to unaffiliated stoked
speculation about a possible run in 2008.
The most unique aspect of the study was their ability to
disaggregate independents, confirming something political scientists and
campaign strategists have long believed: the "independent" label encompasses a variety
of different political orientations and philosophies. Again, from the Post story (with percentages among all
Five categories of independents
emerged from the analysis of the survey results:
"Deliberators" [18%], who are
classic swing voters.
"Disillusioned" [18%], who are
acutely upset with politics today.
"Dislocated" [16%], who are
both social liberals and fiscal conservatives.
"Disguised" [24%], who are
partisans on the left and right who behave almost identically to Democrats or
"Disengaged" [24%], who
generally sit on the political sidelines.