Recent polls estimate that 40 percent of the American electorate identifies as independent, making them a larger group than either Democrats or Republicans. Who are the independent voters and how do they make up their minds?
1. Impartial or Apathetic? Pure independents- those who don’t slightly lean toward either party show the least interest in politics among all surveyed blocs. Fifty-seven percent of the time they can’t supply a correct answer as to which party controls the House.
2. Independent- Or members of the Mob? An average of 20 percent of voters don’t pick a candidate until the last two weeks of a campaign. One study from the University of Minnesota found that some late deciders may look to social consensus as a way to make decisions.
3. Deliberate- Or Illogical? Italian researchers reported in Political Psychology that answers to irrelevant questions such as “which candidate would you rather a beer with?”matters much more to voters who are on the fence.People unsure who they will vote for are more likely to consider a candidate’s personality,especially that of the better -known incumbent.
4. Open-Minded- Or Conflicted? Americans who feel pulled in two directions about core political issues are likely driven by contradictory values. For example they support both individualism and egalitarianism respond with high levels of ambivalence to questions about government,and social welfare policies,they struggle to take a stand.
Published in Psychology Today October 2012