Yes, yes we do! And we are indisputably real and a major influential factor in every election. And yet, some are still trying to wrap their heads around this reality. One political scientist has found evidence counter to the “Myth of the Independent Voter” – a theory that explores the possibility all independent voters are “closet partisans” or “partisan leaners” and only a small percentage of self identified independent voters are “truly Independent.”
Professor Todd Eberly of St. Mary College (MD) wrote this post defending criticism of his research which showed that Independent Voters are indeed… Independent Voters! While Prof. Eberly is convinced of the importance of Independent Voters, he’s also skeptical of the recent surveys by Gallup and Pew which suggest that there is a plurality of Independent Voters in the US, perhaps as much as 40%.
“This is simply incorrect. But so too are arguments that independent voters make up less than 10% of the electorate. The stability of a partisan coalition is dependent upon sustained loyalty across elections, but roughly 20 percent of the voting electorate are not loyal partisans. In an era of closely matched political parties, relatively narrow two-party vote shares, and vacillating partisan control of government winning and maintaining the support of that 20% is crucial.”
In some ways the actual percentage of independent voters in the electorate is irrelevant to two hard realities:
- The audience of self-identified independent voters is growing faster than either of the two mainstream parties, and they know this and it terrifies them because…
- Independent voters have decided every close election over the last decade, and our impact and influence on election outcomes is only growing.
You can read more on Professor Eberly’s research and make up your own mind.