If it seems like you are watching the Republican Party vanish before your eyes, it’s because you are. According Gallup, Republican Party identification has fallen to a 25 year low of 25%.
Gallup’s latest party identification poll found that Democratic identification has remained stable. Democratic identification has gone from 36% in 2008 to 31% today, but Republican identification has dropped in each of the last three years, until it has hit its lowest point in the 25 year history of the poll. Republican identification reached a peak of 34% during 2004, but eroded during George W. Bush’s second term. By the time Bush left office, Republican identification was down to 28%.
All of those disappointed Republicans have left the GOP and deemed themselves Independents. Forty percent of those polled now identify as Independents. Of course, some of the Republicans who have departed the Republican Party aren’t really Independent. They still vote Republican, but now they do it as an Independent. This is why Independents voting for Republican presidential candidates like Mitt Romney isn’t a surprise. It is also why the media needs to change their thinking about Independents. Independent voters are no longer neutrals, but they are more likely disaffected Republicans who have left their party.