Americans identifying as either Democrat or Republican are near historical lows, with almost half of the country identifying as independent.
The 2015 Gallup polls report that 42 percent of Americans consider themselves independents, while 29 percent and 26 percent attach themselves to the Democrat of Republican parties respectively.
Indeed, since 2011, roughly four in ten Americans have identified as independents.
These numbers are unprecedented. Gallup has never recorded such weak political party identification among Americans.
“The rise in political independence is likely related to Americans' frustration with party gridlock in the federal government,” Gallup explains. “In the past several years, dissatisfaction with the government has ranked among the leading issues when U.S. adults are asked to name the most important problem facing the U.S., and was the most frequently mentioned problem in 2014 and 2015.”
Some also believe specific individuals representing their parties are also turning people off, from Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders.
“Recent events have me thinking that a significant slice of the independent pie is comprised of people who probably would have been a registered member of one party or the other if they weren’t so completely convinced that their party stinks on ice, " Jazz Shaw explains in a piece for Hot Air. "That doesn’t mean that they suddenly believe in all the core principles of the opposing team…just that their side needs to fire their coaches before they consider coming back home.”
Still, history shows presidential election years tend to see more independents supporting and identifying with specific parties.
Last year, polls illustrate independents were almost equally divided in how they’d vote. Forty-two percent of independents leaned towards the Republicans, while 45 percent revealed a preference for the Democrats.
The weak attachment to these political parties, however, may still affect how the race ahead plays out and what messages should be emphasized.
“The lack of strong attachment to the parties could make candidate-specific factors, as opposed to party loyalty, a greater consideration for voters in choosing a president in this year's election than they have been in past elections,” Gallup explains.