Political independents are among the most heavily scrutinized groups in American politics. They're also, as a new analysis of CNN's most recent polling shows, not much of a bloc at all: T...
Political independents are among the most heavily scrutinized groups in American politics. They're also, as a new analysis of CNN's most recent polling shows, not much of a bloc at all: Their backgrounds and viewpoints cover a wide spectrum.
A dive into independents' views highlights two basic principles for thinking about their role in the nation's politics. First, it shows the limits of treating "independents'' as a single, centrist political bloc -- or even as an ideologically coherent one.
Second, however, the poll also shows that independents are still notably different from self-identified partisans in some key ways, and that the issues where they break away from those partisan structures are often critical stress points.
The vast majority of so-called independents, pollsters have consistently found, feel at least some kinship to one party or the other. In CNN's poll, more than 9 in 10 independents, when asked, said they leaned at least somewhat toward either Democrats or Republicans.
These "leaners" have much more in common with their favored parties than they do with other independents who lean the opposite way.
As a case in point, 90% of Democratic-leaning independents in the CNN poll who voted last year said they had voted for President Joe Biden, while 84% of Republican-leaning independents who voted said they had cast their ballots for former President Donald Trump.
Partisan-leaning independents, perhaps unsurprisingly, are less supportive than their partisan counterparts of congressional leaders, a difference that's especially stark on the GOP side.
In the CNN poll, an 83% majority of Democrats and a 69% majority of Democratic leaners approved of the way Democratic leaders in Congress were handling their jobs. Across the aisle, 58% of Republicans approved of the way GOP leaders in Congress are handling their jobs, but just 29% of Republican leaners agreed.
Notably, however, there's far less of a difference between partisans and leaners in their views of the opposing party -- disapproval of GOP leaders was about similarly high among Democrats (85%) and Democratic-leaning independents (81%), while disapproval of Democratic leaders was shared by most Republicans (94%) and Republican-leaning independents (90%). Continue reading on CNN