Independent Leaners as Policy Partisans: An Examination of Party Identification and Policy Views

David B. Magleby and Candice Nelson
  • 1 Brigham Young University
  • 2 American University

Abstract

Previous research has shown that Independents who lean towards the Democratic or Republican parties exhibit voting behavior similar to outright partisans. Less attention has been paid to the policy positions of Independent leaners. In this article we compare the policy positions of Independent leaners, Strong and not very strong Democrats and Republicans, and Pure Independents on five policy issues: the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the 2009 stimulus bill, the war in Iraq, abortion, and same sex marriage. On all five issues, Independent leaners are policy partisans; their positions are almost identical to the positions of outright partisans, and quite different from the views of Pure Independents. Analyses which consider Independents as one monolithic block are just as erroneous on policy issues as they are on political behavior.

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This journal provides a forum for professionally informed commentary on issues affecting contemporary American politics. This includes but is not limited to issues engaging parties, elections, and political participation; the news media, interest groups, Congress, the Presidency, and the Courts; trends in public finance, presidential popularity, congressional productivity; in contemporary, historical, or comparative perspective.

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