Fewer People Consider Themselves Republicans, but Aren’t Becoming Democrats

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Fewer Americans say they consider themselves Republicans, but at the same time are not becoming Democrats, recent polls show. Charles Franklin, a Marquette Law professor and pollster, analyzed Gallup data and concluded that even though the number of supporters for the Democratic Party is slightly increased, more Americans are becoming pure independents, CNN reports.

The number of pure independents has increased after past presidential elections. That was noticed in 2005 and 2013, but this time, the numbers are larger and the shift could indicate the erosion in the Republican Party.

In the last 15 years, people have been moving away from being solidly one party or the other. They have often moved to being Republican-leaning or Democrat-leaning independents and the increase in the leaners was one of the main reasons for the increase in the number of independents. Since 2004, independents rose from 29 to 44 percent of voters. At the same time, the rise of pure independents, those who are not just closet Democrats or Republicans, has been smaller.

In the period between 2004 and 2016, the number of U.S. citizens who identified themselves as pure independents has risen and declined a point or two per year, especially in the year after a presidential election. The number of pure independents rose from three to four percent over 2017. The number of Americans identifying as solid Democrats has been flat, while the number of Americans who lean toward Democrats has slightly increased. All of this shows that there is some erosion in the Republican base, but it is not clear how much Democrats are benefiting from it.

“There is evidence for some erosion of GOP partisanship in 2017, though I think it is a more modest decline than some would suggest. That has not been accompanied by any substantial Dem gains in 2017,” Franklin said.

According to CNN, the Americans who were Republicans until recently, but have defected, won’t even have their unhappiness picked up in the polls, softening the result.

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