I am writing an academic text, that deals with American politics. If I write about party members in congress, should I write about Democrats, Republicans and Independents or about republicans, democrats and independents?

(Those independents here, are not members of an "IndependentParty")

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  • What does CDO say advocate? – Edwin Ashworth Nov 22 '16 at 14:39
  • @Edwin Well here it says Republicans and Democrats should be upper-case, but independents not dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/independent – canIchangethis Nov 22 '16 at 15:06
  • So the question is easily answered by checking in a reference book. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 22 '16 at 15:12
  • I am sorry for that. Bu therefore I write, same example as down there: There are more Republicans than Democrats and independants in my sample. – canIchangethis Nov 22 '16 at 15:14
  • Unless there is a party called the Independent Party, yes. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 22 '16 at 15:16

'Republican' refers to the Republican Party which is a proper noun. The same applies to the Democratic Party/Democrats. So you should use the upper case.

The same is not true for independent candidates where the word 'independent' is used as an adjective. I am assuming you are referring to candidates that is not affiliated with any political party. This does not apply if you are referring to candidates from the Independence Party of America.

As always, a lot depends on context. What I said would probably apply to most cases. If you provide some examples where you are not sure, we can work further on it.

ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_third-party_and_independent_presidential_candidates,_2016

Hope this helps.

  • Thanks. I usually have sentences like: There are more Republicans than Democrats and Independants in the sample. – canIchangethis Nov 22 '16 at 15:04
  • I would use 'independent candidates' in place of 'Independents' in this sentence. This sentence below may eliminate any ambiguity : – G Phan Nov 22 '16 at 15:26
  • (opps - sorry about the break in the comment) There are more Republicans than Democrats and independent candidates collectively in the sample. – G Phan Nov 22 '16 at 15:28
  • Thanks @G Phan: But are they still candidates, when they have already been voted into congress? – canIchangethis Nov 22 '16 at 16:06
  • No, they are no longer candidates in this case. – G Phan Dec 16 '16 at 3:35

According to all the applicable style guides, yes. As mentioned, these are the names of political parties. People who belong to them are like members of a club or residents of a specific place with a name. So, Rotarian, Republican, Democrat, Gator, Texan, Italian, Martian.

  • ... independent? – Edwin Ashworth Nov 22 '16 at 15:12
  • Unless there is an Independent party (of which I am not aware), I would not capitalize it. "She identifies as an independent, not a Republican or other party member." – user8356 Sep 11 at 14:57

'Republicans' and 'Democrats', as well as 'Independants' are proper nouns, at least in the context you are presenting them in, and therefore should be capitalised.

See the following links for more information:



Note - Before anyone corrects my spelling... I'm British, as such I use 'ise' instead of 'ize'...

  • 1
    But is "independant" really a proper noun? – AllInOne Nov 22 '16 at 15:14

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