Number Of Independent Voters On The Rise
According to the Washington Post, 40 percent of all registered voters are independents and since 2008, 2.5 million people have left the two major political parties.
A 2010 survey by The Pew Research Center found that approximately two-thirds of them are independent because "both parties care more about special interests than about average Americans."
"If you look at reaction from the polls people are souring on both major parties," said Dr. Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a senior fellow at the USC Sol Price School of Policy, Planning and Development. "Party loyalty is not as strong as it once was and people just don’t want to commit."
The Los Angeles Times reports that more Californians than ever before are registered as no preference voters.
"In California the influence of independents is growing," Jeffe said. "Republicans and Democrats must reach out to independents to get out of the primaries."
At this point in the presidential race, the amount of independents who remain undecided is small.
According to Jeffe’s estimates, only around 5 to 10 percent of independent voters have not picked a candidate yet.
At this point during the 2008 presidential campaign, approximately 8 percent of voters were still on the fence.
"Both parties are focusing more on voter turnout, which is common," Jeffe said. "They are both going after their own party, not as much the independent vote."
But during his now infamous "47 percent" speech, Mitt Romney said that he must win over independent voters to become president.
"I have to convince the 5 to 10 percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon, in some cases, emotion, whether they like the guy or not," Romney said.
However, Jeffe believes that Romney will have a difficult time capturing the independent vote this time around.
"The conventional wisdom is that you run to the right as a Republican in the primaries and then you run back to the center," Jeffe said. "Romney was forced so far to the right that he is having trouble getting back."
Jeffe added that after four years in office President Barack Obama has a track record, making it more difficult for him to lean in any particular direction.
"The leap has not been as big for him," Jeffe said.
A recent Gallup poll found that Democratic enthusiasm in key swing states, such as Colorado, Florida and Iowa, is up 20 points after the party’s national convention.
Approximately 73 percent of registered Democrats in these states said they are either "extremely" or "very" enthusiastic about the upcoming election, compared to 64 percent of Republicans.
Meanwhile independents’ enthusiasm lags behind both groups at just 43 percent.
Reach Staff Reporter Steven Covelman here.