Pew Research provides a useful reminder that most of the people who consider themselves politically “independent” — 81 percent of them — lean toward one party or the other. Only 7 percent of Americans don’t lean toward either. These non-leaners tend, perhaps unsurprisingly, not to be politically engaged.
Sometimes people point to the high number of people who describe themselves as independent — 38 percent of the public, compared to 31 percent who say they’re Democrats and 26 percent who identify as Republicans — as a reason to think that a third party could really take off. The facts mentioned above undercut that idea.