The evaporating independents: Removing the "Independent" option from the NES party identification question

Patrick Kenney, Tom W. Rice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


In this brief paper we contend that the number and composition of individuals identifying with no political party may change substantially when the "Independent" option is omitted from the classic National Election Study (NES) party identification question. Data from two surveys of Vermont residents reveal that when the independent choice is not presented the percentage of self-identified independents drops significantly. Moreover, the relationship between age and partisanship varied depending on whether or not the nonpartisan choice was given. When the independent option was announced, a much higher percentage of younger than older respondents chose the option, but with the nonpartisan choice omitted, more older individuals actually opted to identify as independents. A similar analysis using nationwide survey data from the Roper Organization and NES supports our Vermont conclusions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-239
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Opinion Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 1988


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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