In 2014, a record number of Americans — 43 percent — identified as political independents, easily outnumbering those who labeled themselves Democrats (30 percent) or Republicans (26 percent). Those figures, and 2015's very similar statistics, represent the peak of a years-long trend away from major party identification.
Then 2016 happened.
New Gallup poll results find the election year saw a sharp spike in partisanship, with independent identification dropping to its lowest rate in six years at 39 percent. Make no mistake: The single largest group of Americans are still independents, but the major parties reclaimed some territory.
With the exception of 2012, however, previous election years saw a similar rise in partisanship, suggesting this is likely just a temporary, cyclical set-back.