For almost a decade we have taken issue with the prevailing view of independent voters. We showed that Independents, as they were usually defined, had nothing in common, and in fact were more diverse than either Democrats or Republicans. Virtually no generalizations about Independents were correct, except by accident, because they comprise three very different kinds of people. Most Independents acknowledge that they are closer to one or the other party. The crux of our argument was that this ‘leaning’ should outweigh an initial claim of independence when deciding how to classify respondents. Our most striking finding was that leaners vote like outright partisans. We interpreted this as evidence that most professed Independents are not neutral between the parties, but are nearly as partisan as avowed Democrats and Republicans. This conclusion had major implications for both mainstream and revisionist views of American politics, all the more so because of the growing numbers of Independents, who accounted for 38 per cent of the adult population by 1978, thus matching the Democrats and leaving Republicans in a distant third place.