Politcal Identity

Today, approximately equal numbers of Americans identify with each of the major political parties, and more than a third consider themselves independents. Political identification has declined in recent years, with the number of people identifying with one or the other party decreasing. From the 1960s to today, there has been a marked drop in party affiliation. In the 1950s, it was a reasonable to assume that children would identify with the same political party as their parents; today, that is not necessarily so. Many of the events of the 1960s, such as the Vietnam War and desegregation, resulted in a realignment of party affiliation. Even more significantly, new voters entering the electorate since the 1960s have largely chosen to be unaffiliated with either of the major parties. In addition, over the last two decades, many active member of the Republican party have moved to more conservative views, while active members of the Democratic party have moved to more liberal views. This movement away from "center," or politically moderate views, has further weakened party identification for the many who already had weak party identification.

The midterm elections of 2006 seems to have moved more people towards the political center. That movement was confirmed by the election of Barak Obama in 2008. Obama was reelected in 2012. On the other hand Republicans continued to do better in the Mid Term elections. This effect seems largely an impact of voter turnout. Voter turnout is larger during Presidential elections, and many of the supporters of the Democrats, which include African Americans and Spanish Americans turn out in larger numbers in Presidential years. Furthermore the Democratic party has greater support from younger voters, who also do not turn out during the mid-term elections.