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POLL: Post/Kaiser/Harvard on Independents


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.

This brief block quote does the study little justice. Both full story and the graphic summaries of each of the above cluster groupings are worth reading in full.

 

Comments
MetaData:

This partitioning of Independents is very interesting.

I know a lot of Dislocated, libertarian-minded people (socially liberal, fiscally responsible) in particular among my younger middle-class friends.

I have also met a number of disguised, who slide easily to the Dislocated.

I also understand the disengaged and disillusioned. It is easy to not care and just watch TV or worry about feeding your family. Politicians, well the Democrats anyway, don't do a good job of persuasion that their positions will help.

But, I don't think I meet many deliberators these days. The partisan divide has become really dilineated and entrenched.

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