In this election year, more Americans identify as independents than as either Democrats or Republicans. Yanna Krupnikov, an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Stony Brook University, has been researching why so many Americans call themselves independents. The results are contained in a recent book she co-authored with colleague Samara Klar (an assistant professor at the University of Arizona) — Independent Politics: How American Disdain for Parties Leads to Political Inaction.
The book argues that independents really aren’t independent at all. Instead they are ashamed of both parties and choose to claim independence rather than associate with Republicans or Democrats. Independent Politics takes on several misconceptions of independents — such as the fact that they are unbiased, or could give way to a third party, or that they decide elections — and shows that they are false.
“The book considers why so many people in America identify as political independents and why Americans dislike the two political parties,” Krupnikov said. “The research also suggests some explanations for why people might like ‘anti-party’ political candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.”
Krupnikov’s research and teaching focuses on political psychology, political communication, political persuasion, political behavior and empirical methodology. She integrates psychology and political science to identify points at which new information can have the most profound effect on the way people form political opinions, make political choices and, ultimately, take political actions. Her work has been published in the American Journal of Political Science, Political Communication and Political Behavior.