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The waning influence of American political parties

Young Americans don’t care much for political parties. According to the Pew Research Center, 48 percent of millennials (ages 18-33) identify as independents. That’s almost as many as identify as Democrats (28 percent) and Republicans (18 percent) put together.

Political scientists are often skeptical about the independent option in surveys. Most individuals who choose to call themselves “independents” still vote consistently with one party or the other. They are partisans except in name.

Even if that’s true, the lack of loyalty or concern for parties still has consequences. For instance, presidential primary campaigns were established to allow a party’s members to choose its candidate. But the research team at Tufts University’s Tisch College, where I study civic engagement, estimates that young Americans (18-30) have so far cast more votes for Senator Bernie Sanders than for Secretary Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump combined.

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