September 20, 2017
Though Democrats in Philadelphia have had a consistently strong hold over the majority of voter registrants in the city, Republicans have officially lost their second-place spot, as the number of registered third-party and Independent voters has grown.
This is reportedly the first time this has ever happened in the city, the City Commissioner's Office told Philadelphia Magazine.
The rise of Philadelphia’s independent voters really began skyrocketing in the 1990s, helping the city jump from 52,583 Independent and third-party voters in 1997 to 117,215 Independent and third-party voters today.
This puts those voters slightly above Republican voters, of which there are 117,000 registered in the city. Democrats far outweigh both parties with 796,514 registered Philadelphia voters.
This trend in Philadelphia is reflective of a larger trend across the country. Even before President Donald Trump took office, Gallup released a report in 2015 that 43 percent of Americans identified as independent, though there’s not much evidence showing that they actually vote that way.
“Political independence isn’t more popular, it’s just more fashionable,” FiveThirtyEight said at the time.
Additionally, the pool of registered independents is full of its own subfractions, so it’s likely that the new statistics aren’t as threatening to local politicians as they seem.
“It’s more people who are defined by what they’re not, and they're not Democrats and they’re not Republicans,” Republican City Commissioner Al Schmidt told Philly Mag.