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what are independent voters in the US?
Independent Cause

What Are Independent Voters?

3 min read
what are independent voters in the US?
Good Party Politics Team · Apr 25, 2023

The American political system is dominated by two major parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. However, many voters identify as independents, indicating a growing dissatisfaction with partisan politics. In this article, we will explore the concept of independent voters and the role of political parties in American politics, focusing on how voters can make informed decisions to support political parties that align with their values and beliefs. Because of the strong party unity in Congress and state legislatures, it is difficult for third-party individuals to win elections. It allows the two significant parties to shape legislation in civil rights, labor laws, and foreign policy without much opposition. Usually, independents hold middle-of-the-road political views and are relatively apathetic toward politics. However, they can also vote in a way that makes it difficult for Democrats and Republicans to govern because they may support different individuals at different levels of government.

Historical evolution of politics in the United States

Political Parties in the Republic Era

Before 1776, there were no parties in the United States. There were two distinct groups of people with two different sets of ideas. These groups included those who supported independence from Britain and those who wanted to remain a colony of Britain. These groups eventually became known as the Patriots and the Loyalists. Patriots formed their militia to fight for American sovereignty, while the Loyalists remained a part of Great Britain's military.

Politics in the Democratic-Republican Era

The Democratic-Republicans were the first political party in the United States. They were a group of people who supported a strong central government, free markets, and free trade. Members of the party also called themselves Republicans, though the term is still used today to refer to members of the Republican Party.

Politics in the first-party system

Political parties were often ideologically split during this era, and intra-party conflicts were common. The Federalists had liberal views, while their opponents, the Democratic-Republicans, had more conservative views. Each party had a built-in geographic base of support.

The Rise of the Second-Party System

From 1815 to 1848, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson led the Democratic-Republicans, and John Quincy Adams led the Federalists. A large group of supporters supported each. Because supporters of each party were geographically concentrated, elections between them were mainly decided by a few states. This era ended when the Whig Party replaced the Federalists. The Whigs combined support from former Federalists and Democratic-Republicans.

The Third-Party System

After the Civil War, many Republicans shifted to the Democratic Party. They supported a Reconstruction program that protected African Americans' rights and allowed them to vote. There was also an increased focus on business regulation and worker protection.


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Role of political parties in American Politics

These parties play a significant role in American politics. They serve as vehicles for individuals to pursue political power and influence and as organizations that advocate for policies and ideas. Here are some of the key roles of parties in American politics:

1) Representing diverse interests

Political parties represent a range of interests and ideologies within American society. They allow individuals to band together and advocate for their shared interests.

2) Influencing legislation

In Congress, parties work together to pass legislation that has broad appeal. While many members of Congress have strong ideological views and may disagree with some parts of a bill, they can still vote for it because they support the rest of the bill. The two major parties work together to form coalitions that help them pass legislation.

3) Nominating individuals

These parties select individuals to run for public office. They hold primary elections and conventions to choose their candidates for various offices.

4) Holding individuals to campaign promises

During campaigns, parties strengthen their candidates' positions so that they can appeal to a broad base of voters. Parties promote individuals who are likely to be elected and sometimes choose a different candidate for the primary election who has a better chance of defeating the opposition. At all levels of government, political parties hold their elected officials accountable by making them go through regular re-election campaigns.

5) Generating media attention

Political parties were founded as a result of political debates in newspapers. Since then, they have relied on the media to spread their ideas and messages. Parties also use television advertising, direct mailings, and rallies to get their message out to voters. The mass media helps shape voters' perspectives on issues and candidates.

6) Holding down costs of campaigns

These parties can pool funds and spread them among multiple campaigns. It allows campaigning individuals to bring more staff, media professionals, and professional campaign managers.

7) Mobilizing voters

Political parties work to mobilize voters through various tactics such as voter registration drives, canvassing, and advertising. They seek to rally their supporters to turn out on Election Day.

8) Governing

The parties that win elections can govern and implement their policy agenda. They appoint officials to government positions and work to pass laws that reflect their party's priorities.

9) Providing a check on government

The party out of power checks the party in power by scrutinizing its actions and policies. It helps to ensure accountability and prevent abuse of power.

How to choose a political party that aligns with your values and beliefs

The parties in the United States have many differences in their approaches to issues. As a result, it can be challenging to choose one that matches your views. Many people use the following strategies when deciding which party to support:

1) Be aware of your values and beliefs

Each political party has different ideals and policies, so looking closely at them before deciding is essential. Reviewing the party platforms and past policy decisions can help you identify which is closest to your views.

2) Pay attention to the issues that matter to you

With so many issues today, it can take time to identify which ones are most important. Take time to think about issues you would be willing to place at the top of your priority list.

3) Consider what kind of leader you want

Some people find a political party once they have identified a presidential candidate they like. Others find a party based on the leadership style of their chosen candidate. Some people prefer the political party that has generally been in power for the last few administrations. In contrast, others want a party with a strong track record of winning elections and making change.

4) Get involved

Attend political events and meetings, volunteer for a campaign, or join a political organization. It will help you better understand the party's values and beliefs and allow you to meet like-minded individuals.

5) Be open to change

If you support a party's ideals and issues but only want them to change slightly and still be in power, then you should choose a different party. It can help your party continue trying new approaches to shape policies most appropriate for your values.

6) Ask friends and family

Ask your friends and family which political party is best for you. They can share information about their experiences with different parties or suggest a political party that interests them.

7) Look at historical data

Today's decisions by the founders of the parties can help you understand the values and beliefs of the first founders. Use this to learn how each party operates and how they have changed over time.

Who is an Independent Voter?

An independent voter is a voter who does not identify with a political party. They are typically previously affiliated with one of the two big parties but now disagree with their views on specific issues. It can lead to an independent voter casting a ballot for someone without directly aligning themselves with any particular party.

Relationship between Independent Voters and Political Parties

To identify the relationship between independent voters and parties, you should base it on their worldviews and their ideals. Independent voters are more likely to view themselves as having a moderate stance on several issues throughout several areas than those who identify with either of the two big parties. Independent voters in America are more likely than any other group to see themselves as fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Over time, they are also more likely to have a high attachment to trust between the two parties, meaning that they do not view either as being associated with corruption and favoritism. As of 2010, they were still more likely to have a favorable opinion of President Barack Obama than any voters that identified with either major party. They are typically seen as thoughtful individuals who will make decisions based on the facts and their beliefs on the issues and parties at hand.

Reasons for Choosing Independent Affiliation

Independent affiliation is a political strategy voters use to achieve their goals concerning both parties. Instead of affiliating with a specific party, they wish to remain independent from both to ensure that each supports certain policies they want. Here are some reasons why independent voters in the US may choose this affiliation:

1) Independence

Independent voters value their independence and do not want to be tied to a particular party or ideology. They believe independence allows them to make objective decisions without being influenced by partisan politics.

2) Disillusionment with the two-party system

Some independent voters are dissatisfied with the two-party system in the US, feeling that it needs to represent the diversity of opinions and ideas among the American public. They believe being independent allows them to vote for individuals who better align with their values.

4) Personal values and principles

In some cases, they may prefer to be politically independent because they believe relying on the system will lead people to think that one of the parties is more capable of making good decisions than the other when in reality, neither one is necessarily better or worse than the other at governing. They may feel that the two big parties are too similar and large enough to make both of them ineffective at their job.

Challenges Faced by independent voters in American Politics

Independent voters face several challenges when voting and participating in politics. These challenges include:

1) Exclusion from the political process

The Democratic and Republican Parties do not want to include independents in their ranks because they would be too weak against one another and would not be able to hold on to power during election seasons. By excluding independent voters from their ranks, the two big parties have created an environment where you have a very limited selection of individuals to choose from.

2) Voting influence

Independent voters are often viewed as having the potential to swing certain elections in one direction. However, this has also made them more susceptible to corruption and being coerced into voting in a particular way by major political parties.

3) Limits on time and money

Independent voters may not have the same amount of time or money that partisan voters do to follow the campaigning individuals, political news, issues, and events as closely. Thus, they have to find ways to keep up with partisan politics in a practical yet affordable way.

4) Media bias

Since major media companies are biased toward the Republican and Democratic parties, independent voters are often represented inaccurately or unfairly. It may result in them not seeing important information or needing clarification on the media's portrayal of independent candidates as incompetent.

5) Exclusion from political debates

Independent voters may be excluded from political debates and forums, often organized and funded by the major parties. It can make it difficult for them to learn about and evaluate all individuals running for office.

6) Lack of representation

Independent voters need a political party or organization to represent their interests, making it challenging to have their voices heard and influence political decisions.

7) Polarization

American politics has become increasingly polarized in recent years, with the major parties moving further apart on many issues. It can make it difficult for independent voters to find individuals that align with their views and values.

How to Make Informed Decisions as an Independent Voter

Independent voters often feel torn between the two big parties. They may feel frustrated but also helplessly stuck in a two-party system that does not represent their views and values since they do not have anyone else to support. However, there are ways that independent voters can make informed decisions about which parties and individuals align with their values and beliefs:

1) Start by recognizing the benefits of being an independent

As an independent voter, you can look at politics more objectively than partisan ones. It can help you make informed decisions about whose values and policies align with your own. Realize that the two parties are not monolithic entities and have differing views on many issues. As an independent voter, you may feel at odds with one or both of the major parties, but it is possible that you could still feel aligned with them in certain areas.

2) Do your homework on the candidates and prioritize your issues

As an independent voter, you will have to work harder than voters with party affiliation to keep up with campaigning individuals, political news, issues, and events. However, this can be an excellent opportunity to learn about politics and make informed decisions about which parties and individuals align with your values and beliefs. Be proactive about finding out where the major parties stand on the issues you care about most and what kind of record they have regarding them in recent years.


Independent voters play an important role in American politics, as they represent a growing number of individuals dissatisfied with the two-party system. However, political parties continue to dominate the political landscape, and it remains to be seen how independent voters will affect future elections. To make informed decisions, voters should consider their values and beliefs when choosing a political party to support. For more information on political parties that align with progressive values, please visit


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Independent Voters
Independent Movement
Voter Education
Politics 101
what are independent voters in the US?
By Good Party Politics Team
The politics team is focused on transforming the political landscape by promoting transparency, accountability, and positive change. They aim to engage citizens in the political process, encourage informed decision-making, and support candidates who prioritize the common good. Their mission revolves around creating a more fair and just political system, fostering collaboration, and breaking down traditional barriers of partisanship.