The number of independent voters in America increases each year, yet they remain misunderstood by both media and academics. Media describe independents as pivotal for electoral outcomes. Political scientists conclude that independents are merely 'undercover partisans': people who secretly hold partisan beliefs and are thus politically inconsequential. Both the pundits and the political scientists are wrong, argue the authors. They show that many Americans are becoming embarrassed of their political party. They deny to pollsters, party activists, friends, and even themselves, their true partisanship, instead choosing to go 'undercover' as independents. Independent Politics demonstrates that people intentionally mask their partisan preferences in social situations. Most importantly, breaking with decades of previous research, it argues that independents are highly politically consequential. The same motivations that lead people to identify as independent also diminish their willingness to engage in the types of political action that sustain the grassroots movements of American politics.
Samara Klar is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Arizona. She studies how individuals' social surroundings and personal identities influence their political attitudes and behaviors. Her work has been published in numerous journals including the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, and Public Opinion Quarterly, and has been supported by the National Science Foundation. She has been recognized with a Distinguished Junior Scholar award in Political Psychology from the American Political Science Association and a Burns Roper Fellowship from the American Association of Public Opinion Research. Klar earned a PhD in Political Science from Northwestern University, Illinois and also holds degrees from Columbia University, New York and McGill University, Montreal. Yanna Krupnikov is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at State University of New York, Stony Brook. Her research focuses on the way political communication affects public opinion and the way people express their political opinions through political actions. Krupnikov's work has been published in numerous journals including the American Journal of Political Science, Political Behavior, and Political Communication, and has been supported by the National Science Foundation. She is the winner of the Midwest Political Science Association's Robert Durr Award and the award for the best paper by an emerging scholar. Krupnikov earned a PhD in Political Science from the University of Michigan and also holds degrees from the University of Toronto and Brandeis University, Massachusetts.
1. Independents in name only; 2. Inside the mind of an independent voter in America; 3. How do you like me now? The desirability of political independence; 4. Everybody hates partisans; 5. Partisanship and political participation; 6. Undercover partisans in America; 7. Be careful what you wish for: political independents and partisan compromise; 8. The partisan underground in an era of polarization.