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The Independent Voter Myth

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Michael Roberts       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   6 comments

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In the run-up to the much touted and media-hyped mid-term elections the common theme is that the so-called independent voting bloc will align itself with the Republican Party and kick the Democrats out of power. As a matter of fact, a new Pew Research Center report points to just that possibility as its findings indicate that this very fickle voting segment of the American population is angry with President Barack Obama and by extension the Democratic Party.

But is there such a thing as an "independent voter?" I respectfully submit that this is a favored myth of the American body politic and a favorite talking point of Sunday morning television talk show hosts and other talking heads. It is an attempt to label a particular segment of the voting population that is presumably unattached to either of the two traditional and dominant political parties in America.

The Pew Research Center's report sheds a lot of light on this so-called independent voter and clearly underscored the fact that this is in fact a myth. There is no such thing as an independent voter. Not being registered with the Democrat or Republican parties is no criteria for the designation of "independent." It simply means that this voter is not comfortable being a member of either party.

The report was the culmination of exhaustive interviews with over 2,000 people and the most damning result is that independent voters now say that they will vote for Republican candidates all across America in the coming mid-term elections in droves. The gap is a 13 points spread that gives the Republican Party a seven point advantage. Mathematically that would mean a 31-point swing to the Republican right since the 2006 mid-term elections when that went for Democrats by 18 points at that time.

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Republican and Democratic voters overwhelmingly support their party's candidates. The GOP's advantage comes as a result of their 49% to 36% lead among independent and other non-partisan voters who are likely to vote in November. But on examining all the data the inescapable conclusion is that this voting bloc is fickle, easily angered, impatient and given to impulse voting. In its disenchantment with the Obama Administration so-called independent voters are the victims of their own unrealistically high expectations and meltdown anger over what they see as the slow pace of change in Washington and President Obama's "sell out" of the liberal agenda. Let me quote from the report.

A whopping 69 percent say that President Obama has made the United States economy worse and 80 percent of this number have decided to vote Republican in the upcoming mid-term elections. Three years ago this voting bloc was fed up with the Bush-Chaney era and threw its support solidly behind the Democratic Party and its then presidential candidate Barack Obama. Now this amnesiac, unstable voting bloc just 2 years into the Obama Administration and the worst national recession in 50 years has abandoned the president and pins its hopes on a Republican Party in power. Patience is not the strong suit of independents.

Sixty-seven percent of independents disapprove of President Obama's job and 72 percent of that number says they will also vote Republican. And like the Tea Party, Birther and other fringe parties and organizations 64 percent say they are angry with government. 73 percent of that number will vote for Republican candidates making this voting bloc anything but "independent."

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Buying into Republican propaganda about the healthcare reform law, and teed off by the failure of President Obama to get the public option in as part of the legislation, 64 percent of registered independent voters say they oppose it, and 70 percent say as a result they will vote Republican. In the Pew data, 42 percent of independents said the Republican Party could do a better job of managing the government while 31 percent side with the Democratic Party.

This data proves conclusively that this so-called "swing vote" and its inner dynamic is based on reactions to issues that are in tandem with both the principles and practices of the two main political parties. For example, 16 percent of independents have been hit very hard by the recession and are highly financially stressed. Anti-government and anti-politician, these quick to anger blue-collar voters have been mainstays of Pew Research typology groupings for decades. Disaffecteds divided their votes between Obama and McCain in 2008; today, 50% of Disaffecteds say Obama's policies have made the economy worse and 60% disapprove of the health care bill enacted earlier this year.

According to the Pew Research: Independents today are clearly more conservative than they were four years ago, particularly with respect to the role of government. Not only do more describe themselves as conservative, but more support smaller government, and there is more distrust and anger toward government generally.

While this ideological tide among independents benefits the GOP, there is a broader rejection of the party in power that also is influencing independent support for Republican candidates. Given their detachment from the parties and general skepticism about politics, independents' views of president's and the parties' performance can and do change quickly. In this regard, the independent swing toward the GOP in 2010 has as much, if not more, to do with views of performance than with shifting ideological preferences.

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One last statistic proves that the myth of the independent voter is real. The Pew Research Center's investigation and research concluded on the basis of empirical evidence that independent voters now more likely to agree with the Tea Party Movement than disagree. When the so-called independent voter ditches its liberal values and replaces them with conservative, right wing ones that contain with in their constructs more than a tinge of racism then that's not independence its partisan, unstable and emotional politics at its best.


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MICHAEL DERK ROBERTS Small Business Consultant, Editor, and Social Media & Communications Expert, New York Over the past 20 years I've been a top SMALL BUSINESS CONSULTANT and POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST in Brooklyn, New York, running (more...)

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