Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The media villagers regularly portray our political system as "broken," blaming the two major political parties. The rise in "no party preference" voters, the media villagers tell us, is evidence that our political system is broken.
The media villagers -- most of whom register as independent/no party preference to maintain the illusion that they have no political bias -- put "independent" voters up on a pedestal and extoll the virtues of independent voters as being the ideal voter.
This is just the media villagers expressing their own air of superiority and disdain for us mere mortals.
An "independent" voter simply indicates "no party preference" checked on the voter registration form. This does not magically transform one into an independent thinker who carefully weighs the candidates' positions and makes a virtuous choice of the best candidate. This media conception of the independent voter is a myth, like unicorns.
The average voter spends less than five minutes deciding for whom to vote. This is what political scientists refer to as "low information voters." This voter is making a decision based upon preconceived political biases and an emotional response to negative political advertising, i.e., their "gut feeling."
This is not the kind of voter who should be put up on a pedestal and extolled as being the ideal voter. If our political system is "broken," it is because of declining civic participation in our political process. The politically disengaged are the problem, not the solution.
As I have posted previously, independent voters are not "independent," but rather are "leaners." There is only a very small percentage of the electorate who are true "swing" voters.
Larry Sabato writing at POLITICO today reaffirms this point:
While it is fashionable for voters to call themselves “independent” - both in how they respond to surveys or in their voter registration - polling data tell us that most people who claim to be independent really are not. A Gallup survey earlier this year noted that 40% of those polled identified as independents, but after “leaners” toward one party or the other were weeded out, the percentage of real independents was only about 10%. That squares with a more recent report from Ipsos’ Clifford Young, who pegged independents as 11% of the likely voters in the upcoming election. Political science research suggests that the real proportion of independents in the November electorate will be even smaller, perhaps 5% to7%.
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[T]he “swingy” part of the electorate is small, only a relative handful of every 100 voters. Most of the change from one quadrennium to another comes from variable turnout in the two partisan camps. Therefore, the key question this November will be less the destination of the hard-core independents than the relative enthusiasm of Democrats versus Republicans.
Or as I advise political campaigns, all elections are base voter elections. Close elections are not decided by "swing" voters -- a favorite meme of the media villagers -- but rather by which political party's base voters turn out to vote.