Mark Blumenthal | July 2, 2007
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, full 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 independents added):
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 Republicans.
"Disengaged" [24%], who generally sit on the political sidelines.