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The Independents: Finding a Home for the Dislocated

In conjunction with the Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation-Harvard University poll exploring attitudes of political independents, Behind The Numbers will take an in-depth look at each of the types of independents identified in the survey. Today's post focuses on the Dislocated, independents who are largely socially liberal yet fiscally conservative.

In an increasingly polarized political world, Dislocated independents, who make up about 16 percent of all independents, have been left ideologically homeless. More than half are socially liberal and fiscally conservative, a view many feel is not adequately represented by either major party.

But lack of representation does not translate into lack of interest. Sixty-two percent of the Dislocated are very interested in the 2008 presidential election and 65 percent pay a lot of attention to national government and politics.

Taking a deeper look at the issues, the group truly straddles the ideological divide. On gay marriage and abortion they hold more liberal views than many independents, yet unlike most other independents, they feel better represented by the GOP on the economy.

Much more on the Dislocated after the jump.

A lack of common ground with both Democrats and Republicans drives "independence" among the Dislocated. Sixty percent say discomfort with both parties is a major reason they call themselves independent.

Frustration and pessimism also bind Dislocated independents. Three-quarters are dissatisfied with the way the system works, and 64 percent say it does not do a good job handling issues important to people like them.

For many in this group, this systemic failure results from government overreaching: more than half believe that government is doing too many things better left to individuals and private business, and six in 10 say religion should have less influence in politics and public life than it does now.

Like the Disillusioned, the Dislocated feel that greater ballot access for independent candidates for president would improve the political system. But unlike their more jaded counterparts, they also believe the system would get worse if there were no political parties at all.

Six in 10 say there are important differences between Republicans and Democrats, but that does not mean they view the two parties equally.

Dislocated independents are slightly less likely than Deliberators or the Disillusioned to have voted for both parties' presidential nominees in the past. About four in 10 say they more often vote for Democrats than Republicans while 21 percent more often vote for the GOP; and 35 percent have split their votes about evenly.

More than six in 10 say George W. Bush is the worst president of the modern era. Although most did not vote for him in 2004, the war in Iraq seems a likely cause for Bush's poor standing.

Iraq is far and away the top issue for Dislocated independents. When asked specifically about Iraq, 50 percent say it is extremely important, while four in 10 or less say the same of all other issues tested.

More than any other group of independents save Disguised Democrats, the Dislocated agree with the Democratic party on the war in Iraq by a 2-1 margin.

Eight in 10 say the war was not worth fighting, and six in 10 believe the U.S. goal of bringing stability to Iraq is no longer possible. True to their social liberal point-of-view, more than half of the dislocated say the government is not doing enough to protect Americans' civil liberties as it conducts the war on terror.

The Dislocated stand out from other independents in their news-gathering habits, they are more likely to get their political news and information from the Internet. And their Internet usage focuses on mainstream media.

Looking ahead to 2008:

While Dislocated independents are more apt to seriously consider a Democratic or an independent candidate for president next November, a Republican who shares their socially liberal, fiscally conservative outlook could win votes from this segment.

The two Republicans with public images most closely fitting that bill, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, fare much better than their more conservative colleagues. Nearly half say they would never vote for Mitt Romney, four in 10 have ruled out Fred Thompson and nearly three-quarters say no to Newt. By contrast, three in 10 say they definitely would not vote for Giuliani or McCain.

On the Democratic side, the Dislocated are most open to Obama and Edwards and more cautious about Clinton and Gore.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  July 10, 2007; 11:01 AM ET
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Has the writer of this series ever heard of Libertarians?

Posted by: Independent Voter | July 10, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Quote by Independent Voter: "Has the writer of this series ever heard of Libertarians?"

He's talking about people who actually have a chance of winning.

The Libertarian Party is a non-entity. And I'm one who used to vote Libertarian years ago, but gave up on them as being next-to-useless after 1992.

I hope a 3rd party does start up this year, but it has to be with a centrist (aka socially moderate but fiscally conservative), not Libertarian/anarchic, philosophy. Joe Liebermann, where are you?

Posted by: KeithE4 | July 10, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Libertarian's and blue dogs are one in the same and when they worked together they were a force in Congress. But when the GOP came to power they put them in a position of disfavor in the political party. Had they moved to side with the blue dogs then they would have become a real active force in Washington, but Newt, Dick, Tom, and Dennis had other ways of making them stay by force in the fold. Too bad really because now not even the blue dogs can trust them.

Posted by: ant | July 10, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

The above article discribed me 100%. My hope is that Mayor Mike Bloomberg will team up with Unity 08 and give people like me a candidate to support in the coming Presidential Contest.

Posted by: Don Heath | July 10, 2007 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Your descirption of the Dislocated describes me rather well. I think of myself as a classical liberal, like our founding fathers. I believe in the people of America, not the Federal government, aka the nanny state. Where the Libertarian party has it wrong is its denial of a realistic foreign policy. Disengagement is not an option - see 9/11. The Federal government was created to provide for the defense of the states and that remains its most important function. If the Libertarians were to grasp this, I believe that it would represent a welcomed alternative to the Democrats and Republicans.

Posted by: Chris | July 13, 2007 6:26 PM | Report abuse

So thats what happened...Ive been dislocated! (or would that be DESERTED) Libertarians? NOT ME. Never mind election realities but too much YOYO *YOUR ON YOUR OWN* and we see how well that policy has been for Please take note here *NO ONE* in their right mind would suggest that police or fire or basic education only go to those who can afford it? Were in this TOGETHER for better or worse.
Stop thinking of it as nanny care and start thinking about a STRONG and HEALTHY citizenry. If theres anything scaries then BIG GOV running healthcare...its the status quo BIG BIZ *PHARMA*INSURANCE*LAWYERS* running things. Never mind the 50 MILLION without...Pity the 250 MILLION poor fools who pay into a ponzi scheme that ABANDONS THEM when they are MOST VULNERABLE! Think again if you think youre not ALREADY paying for soooo many ways.

Posted by: Brenda | July 16, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I guess I was "dislocated" until I saw the Republican debates and rediscovered Ron Paul. Who cares about party lines when the country finally has someone who understands what the problems are and knows how to fix them. If you haven't checked him out yet, go to for a pleasant surprise.

Posted by: Jack | July 17, 2007 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Dislocated describes my wife and I quite well. Government has no business whatsoever legislating morality. Religion of any kind has no place in government. The first amendment should have read freedom of and from religion. Fiscal restraint in government should be mandatory, but public goods such as police, fireman, teachers and a clean environment should not preclude raising taxes to pay for them. Those groups are the most underpaid relative to their worth to the public. if Social Security and Medicare are underfunded, why not raise taxes to pay for it? Why not means test Social Security and Medicare? The republican mantra of no new taxes makes no sense whatsoever for public goods at the expense of reduced police, fire protection, clean water, or clean air.

When we saw the live presentation on CSPAN of the republican platform committee in 2004 come within one vote of opposing mental health services in public schools (particularly after Columbine), that drove another nail in the Republican coffin for us.
Democrats blinding support of gun control and social programs without adequate review and monitoring for effectiveness and adequate funding to do the reviews drives another nail in the Democrat coffin.
Why not sunset provisions on every piece of legislation? Highly partisan bickering by both parties that has almost eliminated compromise and the ability to get things done has increased dramatically and driven us away from both parties.

Posted by: tom | July 18, 2007 8:20 AM | Report abuse

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