The percentage of Americans identifying as political independents increased in 2011, as is common in a non-election year, although the 40% who did so is the highest Gallup has measured, by one percentage point. More Americans continue to identify as Democrats than as Republicans, 31% to 27%.
These results are based on more than 20,000 interviews conducted in 20 separate Gallup polls in 2011. Gallup has computed annual averages of party identification since 1988, when it began regularly conducting interviews by telephone. The prior high percentage of independents was 39% in 1995 and 2007.
Gallup records from 1951-1988 -- based on face-to-face interviewing -- indicate that the percentage of independents was generally in the low 30% range during those years, suggesting that the proportion of independents in 2011 was the largest in at least 60 years. . . .
Increased independent identification is not uncommon in the year before a presidential election year, but the sluggish economy, record levels of distrust in government, and unfavorable views of both parties helped to create an environment that fostered political independence more than in any other pre-election year.