March 4, 2012: San Diego U-T: Are parties passé? Statistics point to rise of closet partisans

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We are going to have a collective aneurysm if political scientists don’t stop telling us we don’t exist. From the San Diego Union Tribune:

Among pundits, journalists and political reformers, it has become fashionable to attribute the growing numbers of independents to dissatisfaction with our political system. Moderate voters, the argument goes, are disenchanted with the ideological extremes represented by the major parties, increasingly disgusted with dysfunction in the state legislature, and are abandoning the Democratic and Republican parties in droves to register as independents…

The problem with this argument, however, is that it is clearly inconsistent with available public opinion data. Instead, polling numbers suggest that the growth in “decline to state” registration can best be characterized as the rise of “closet partisans” – voters who refuse to formally affiliate with a political party, but vote no differently than those who do.

Hey, geniuses – forget for a moment that most of this “data” is from polling sponsored either by the two political parties or their candidates. In elections where voters are only given a choice between Republicans or Democrats, why is it surprising to you that Independents end up voting for Republicans or Democrats? (Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be Ph.D. candidates at the University of California/San Diego.)

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