Independents are on the rise in the 2014 election – both as candidates and voters – and in some states, the impact could be profound.
The starkest example is in deep-red Kansas, where independent Senate candidate Greg Orman threatens to unseat three-term incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R), in a race with no Democrat. A victory by Mr. Orman could cost Republicans’ their goal of retaking the Senate. The race is a tossup.
Next come the voters themselves. For the past decade, Americans have been abandoning the two major parties in growing numbers and identifying as independent. In its latest analysis of the US electorate, Gallup found that 42 percent of Americans self-identify as independent – the highest number Gallup has found since it began interviewing people by telephone 25 years ago. Only 25 percent of Americans call themselves Republican and 31 percent identify as Democrats, Gallup found.
“Both parties are in the dumpster with Americans,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “At the rate we’re going, by 2016 the two dirtiest words in political language are going to be Republican and Democrat.”