Pollster says rise of independents in US began around 1970

Pollster Emily Ekins said in an interview that aired on Tuesday that there has been a rise in people identifying as political independents since the late 1960s and early 1970s. 

"In the past, it was more true that people often had stronger partisan affiliations, and they often would adopt the partisan affiliations of their parents," Ekins, polling director at the Cato Institute, told Hill.TV's Jamal Simmons on "What America's Thinking." 

"Since about 1965, 1970, we've just seen a dramatic rise in the number of people who identify as politically independent," she continued. 

"That matters. It's meaningful that more and more people don't want to align themselves with a political party," she said. "I think it has something to do with there having different views on policy, but it also offers an opportunity for different types of candidates to come along and try to capture the hearts and minds of maybe those who aren't staunch Democrats or staunch Republicans." 

According to Pew Research, 38 percent of Americans consider themselves to be political independents, but 81 percent say they "lean" in a particular direction politically. 

— Julia Manchester