If Political Scientists Say Independents Are “Disinterested,” Then Why Are They Such Shrewd Observers?

Posted by & filed under Myth of Independent Voters, Role of Independent Voters, The IVA Angle


Conventional wisdom from political “scientists” says that Independent voters are “closeted partisans,” disinterested and apathetic, and worst of all, a “myth.” While these critiques may hold some truth in certain circumstances, they often miss the trees for the forest – independent voters do exist. We are a large group of voters that decides every close election. We are engaged. We are interested.

In fact, two recent polls have offered information running counter to the assumption that Independents are “not savvy” and “don’t follow politics.”

First, from the New York Times and a story on how different groups of voters have reacted to President Obama’s decision to announce his support of gay marriage.

“Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed by The New York Times and CBS News since the announcement said they thought that Mr. Obama had made it “mostly for political reasons,” while 24 percent said it was “mostly because he thinks it is right.” Independents were more likely to attribute it to politics, with nearly half of Democrats agreeing.”

Frankly, the fact that anyone surveyed wouldn’t attribute Obama’s announcement to “politics” in an election year is disturbing, and we’re glad that the Independent voters contacted for this poll had their critical thinking caps on.

Next, from a NewsMax report on a poll from The Hill, Independent voters reported that they believed President Obama was “over-politicizing” the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, despite a promise from the president that he wouldn’t “spike the football” in celebration.

“A total of 52 percent of independents think the White House has over-politicized the anniversary, while 36 percent think the response has been “about right.” Among likely voters overall, 45 percent believe Obama over-politicized the anniversary, while 46 percent think he got it about right.

Among Republicans, 65 percent think Obama has over-politicized, while 28 percent think he got it about right. Among Democrats, 74 percent think the president got it about right, while 16 percent believe he over-politicized.”

Finally, it’s also interesting to note that in each of these polls, Independents were closer to one of the two parties on each issue – how’s that for “mythical” independent thinking? If Independents are so “disinterested and apathetic,” then why did they side with the skeptics in both of these polls, regardless of partisan response? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

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5 Responses

  1. David Jordan June 4, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    I totally disagree on the issue of President Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage being mostly for political reasons. What did he possibly have to gain? No one in the LGBT community in their right mind would vote Republican to begin with.

    • michelle cortes June 9, 2012 at 8:38 am

      What did he have to gain? How about tons of money for his campaign? Hollywood loved him before but now they really love him.

    • Anonymous June 10, 2012 at 10:06 am

      You are right but the only reason the rest of the country should worry about how they vote is to keep them from kidnapping the country.

  2. Robert B. Winn June 7, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Independent voters are not a “myth” as some party operatives try to depict them. The major obstacle to independent voters at the present time is ballot access. For instance, I must get 23,000 nomination petition signatures to run for statewide office as an independent voter in Arizona, while a Republican or Democrat running for the same office would have to get about 4,000. The mathematics of these signature requirements is impossible for independent voters to overcome. I ran for statewide office in Arizona as an independent in 1986. The signature requirement then was 10,000, and the requirement for a Republican or Democrat back then was 3,000. The party requirement increased by 25%, while the independent voter requirement increased by almost sixty percent under the same election laws that existed then. So we understand what party politicians are telling us. They do not want independent voters running against them in elections.
    We should not listen to party politicians with regard to this particular thing. Independent voters need to register as candidates for office, especially for state and local offices where they have a chance of appearing on the ballot.
    Where party politicians have been less successful is in their attempts to stop independent voter registration. 43% of the voters are now registered independent.
    I have written a book called, Independence, by Robert B. Winn predicting to fall of the two-party system in American politics and a return to free and open elections like the ones that existed at the beginning of the United States, in which independent voters could be candidates for office. The book is available at Amazon books for a price of $3.95.

    Robert B. Winn


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