The United States is once again in the middle of a major election year and in many elections, people will go the polls with only two options to choose from — red or blue, Republican or Democrat. The problem is a majority of Americans do not believe either major political party represents America.
According to the latest Rasmussen poll, 53 percent of likely voters believe “neither party in Congress is the party of the American people.” While some may dispute the results of a single poll, further evidence exists in voter registration data nationwide as the major parties continue to lose voters in many states.
The 53 Percent
On Thursday, April 24, Rasmussen published the results of a survey conducted on April 19-20, gauging how Americans view the Republican and Democratic parties. The percentage of respondents who said neither party represents America jumped 6 points from 47 percent in October 2013 to 53 percent. Not even a third of respondents disagreed with this — 28 percent — and 19 percent said they were not sure.
What is even more interesting is that many people who describe themselves as partisan voters said neither major party is the party of the American people — 52 percent of Republicans and 44 percent of Democrats. 65 percent of respondents not affiliated with either party feel this way.On April 13, Rasmussen published a poll that found that 72 percent of Americans believe that it would be better if most incumbents in Congress were not re-elected in November, and only 9 percent said it would be better if most incumbents were re-elected. This makes sense as less than 10 percent of Americans currently think Congress is doing a good job.
Rasmussen found that the younger the voter, the more likely they are to believe that neither major party represents the American people, which is explained by the fact that younger voters are more likely to be politically independent from the two major parties.
However, it not just Millennials who have shifted in this direction. According to Pew Research, every living generation is, to various degrees, more independent now than they were 5 years ago. Millennials are just much more likely to be politically independent than Gen Xers, Boomers, or Silents.
The latest poll from Gallup, dated January 8, shows that 42 percent of Americans self-identify as independent, a number that has been on an upward slope since 2008 when it was around 36 percent.
There is no indication that the trend in voters who self-identify as independent is going to reverse anytime soon, but what about voter registration? What evidence is there that the parties are losing voters?
Voters Abandon the Political Parties as the Parties Abandon Them
On January 13, 2014, IVN shared a report that said the number of registered independents nationwide increased 11.2 percent in 5 years, while the number of registered Democrats and Republicans continues to drop.
According to the latest report from Third Way, an organization that claims to represent the “vital center,” independent registration (again meaning independent from either major party) has outpaced registration for both major parties in 11 of 12 states with competitive statewide elections in 2014. Since 2012, Republican and Democratic registration in these states decreased 1.7 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively, while independent registration increased 3.2 percent.
The states included in the report are Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. The only one of these states to see higher growth in party registration between 2012 and 2014 was Kentucky. Colorado saw the highest growth of independents with an increase of 171,476 (20.6% growth), followed by Arizona with 171,476 (10.8% growth).Additionally, Third Way reports that independent registration in these states increased 17 percent overall since 2008. The Republican Party also saw positive growth in this time at 0.9 percent and the Democratic Party lost 5.2 percent of its registered voters.
From East Coast to West Coast, the trend seems to be the same: Voters are leaving or rejecting the parties they feel no longer represent the American people — that have abandoned them.
This is evident in the most recent voter registration report from California’s secretary of state. The report, released on April 22 and dated April 4, shows that the only two parties to lose voters from the last report, dated December 31, 2013, were the Republican and Democratic parties. No Party Preference (independent) increased 20,271 from 3,698,660 to 3,718,931. The largest increase was “Other,” which includes members of third parties not represented in the voter rolls and Decline-to-State voters.
The Republican Party of California lost 31,816, while the Democratic Party lost 17,483. What is important to note is overall voter registration increased 229 from the December 31 report. The total increase in registered voters not affiliated with either major party as of the last report was 49,528. This means tens of thousands of voters left the major parties and registered with a third party, as an independent, or now refuse to declare their political affiliation.
Defining an Independent Voter
There are many people who are skeptical that so many independents actually exist in the United States. Some political commentators, mostly partisan talking heads, say that independent voters are a myth — independents are really closet partisans who will always lean Republican or Democrat.
If 53 percent of Americans say neither party represents them, 42 percent self-identify as independent, and there are so many more registered voters not affiliated with either major party, why hasn’t anything changed?
On April 22, Mother Jones political blogger, Kevin Drum, published an articled titled, “Most Independent Voters Aren’t, Really.” In it, Drum defines “true independents” as “the ones who switch between parties from election to election.” He says the reality is that only 10 percent of voters can actually claim true independent status and even they end up cancelling each other out in each election, so independent voter influence is practically non-existent in elections.
He quotes the following analysis from UCLA professor Lynn Vaverick, published on the New York Times website the same day:
“Only a small percentage of voters actually switched sides between 2008 and 2010. Moreover, there were almost as many John McCain voters who voted for a Democratic House candidate in 2010 as there were Obama voters who shifted the other way….On average, across districts, roughly 6 percent of Obama voters switched and just under 6 percent of McCain voters switched.”
According to Drum, “independent” means “swing voter.” Looking at the subject from within the current political system, it is clear why some people have developed this mindset. Many independent voters do end up leaning Democrat or leaning Republican, but consider these numbers posted on IVN’s article, “30 Reasons Why Independent Voters Are Not a Myth“:
Even Independent “leaners” (independents who lean towards one of the two major parties) do not vote along party lines. In 2000, 73 percent of Democratic-leaning Independents voted for a Democrat, American National Elections Studies (ANES) reports. Taken at face value, this statistic seems to support the argument that Independent voters are a myth.
But, compare it to the voting pattern of these same voters in 2002, in which the number of Democratic leaners voting for their party had dropped to 54 percent, and 2004, in which 38 percent of Democratic leaners were now GOP voters. This shows that independent leaners are not party loyalists.
But still, doesn’t it say something that these voters lean toward one major party or the other? Can they really be called independent if they only vote Republican or Democrat? Why, if people are so tired of the major parties, do people not vote third party or for an independent candidate?
Maybe it is a good idea to examine not only the election system in many states, but the political environment that is bias toward the two major parties and makes voters feel like they really don’t have any other options than Republican or Democratic candidates. If they think about voting third party or independent, well then they are just wasting their vote.
A Rasmussen poll from September 2012 reported that 55 percent of independents saw the presidential election as a choice between the lesser of two evils. Forty-six percent of all likely voters said they would be voting with a lesser of two evils mentality.It is the same for most elections because the current electoral system does not encourage people to vote for the person they want to, but rather which candidate from the two major parties they feel is just not as bad as the other option. This voting mentality is evidence enough that control over elections is not where it needs to be.
Millions of voters nationwide are disenfranchised by partisan primaries that force them to choose between full participation in the election process and their constitutionally-guaranteed right of non-association. Yet, this means all of these voters are denied meaningful participation in the electoral process, which is a fundamental right.
Along with over 200 years of partisan gerrymandering, the election system in most states assures that 95 percent of congressional races remain uncompetitive.
The media has become nothing more than a partisan echo chamber for either the “Left” or the “Right,” and keeps the public dialogue confined in that narrative. The press decides which candidates voters are exposed to not only during the campaign season, but debates, and the major parties get to decide what questions are asked so the conversation continues to be nothing more than recycled talking points that offer no real solutions.
This is what the current political environment looks like. It is a not a friendly environment to political independents, who cannot be defined simply as voters who switch parties each election. Independent voters are willing to look beyond regurgitated, partisan talking points and party platforms. Independents are willing to question something when it doesn’t sound quite right and can think for themselves.
Being independent is a mindset; it cannot simply be defined by voting patterns or ideology. As more voters become aware of the full consequences of the current political system, they are starting to adopt this mindset in greater numbers.
Join the discussion Please be relevant and respectful.
Hopefully, Third Way doesn't believe they're the solution!?! lol..Imo-they're a big part of the Problem....
You're spot on Letitia. It's all about money! The "SUPREME COURT" AKA The "Muppits", no longer interpret the Constitution on it's literal grammar but rather to the will of the party who got them their job! The growth of the Liberals is a result of discontent of the present direction of the government by ex registered Democrats and Republicans. Da! If WE THE PEOPLE were satisfied with the political road we are on, there wouldn't be a rise in the liberal movement. Hasn't anybody figured that out yet! And no, they're not communists but rather Capitalists To put frosting on the cake, the SC just opened up the flood gates for money to buy the elections.
Someone commented below that both parties are controlled by the communist party.
No, both parties are controlled by MONEY, which is controlled primarily by capitalists, but also by dictators of all varieties, not just communists. (ARE there any real communists left?)
The problem is that the U.S. Supreme Court seized power, back in Marbury v. Madison, to be the sole arbiter of what is "constitutional."That was not the intent of the founding fathers. There are supposed to be checks and balances. The Supreme Court also says that commercial speech can be regulated, but that "political speech" can't be regulated, which is why the PEOPLE can't get any control over bribes (otherwise known as campaign contributions).
There is no speech MORE commercial than political speech. Politics is all about money -- who has it, who controls it, who loses it.
Please note that there is an independent party ------- Non-political affiliation would be a better term.
They have found they do not need the people. The same dumb people keep reelecting them. So they do what is best for themselves. Liberals have been told never to listen to anyone that criticizes them (the party, so when they vote they do it blindly.
I'm thinking of changing from Republican to Independent. Republicans seem to have lost their spines.
The only difference between the parties are minor. And the leaderships of both parties don't care about you or me, they only care about their wealthy donors, getting reelected to stay in power and how much more they can fleece taxpayers for.
NO where near alike. Both have issues that's for sure but if you think they are alike you are not following politics. Are you watching Fox?
I agree absolutely! In my own opinion, there is NO difference between the two. The people believe there is, but the Agenda is the same!
I look forward to the day when neither party holds sway and no party commands undivided loyalty of more that 20 percent of voters. In that bright day any partisan primaries that exist as gauges of political sentiments will not serve as official routes to getting a candidate’s name of the general election ballot. Rather nonpartisan primaries would serve that purpose and only so if a huge number of candidates file for candidacy for a particular office. All candidates would thus have equal opportunity for access to a nonpartisan primary, if such a primary is called for. I perceive that in a primary, an approval and scoring voting system, such as described in my comments on a March 29 posting on the Facebook page Electoral Reform for a More Favorable Congress could reasonably reduce the number of candidates for a single-seat office down to five for the general election. For multi-seat offices, it seems that the number should be reduced down to four plus the number of seats to be filled. In Congressional districts of States large enough for at least eight Representatives, consolidating single-seat into multi-seat districts could provide for proportional representation, ameliorating undesirable effects of gerrymandering. My rationale for consolidating districts only in the larger States may be best understood in the context of the April 5 posting on the above mentioned page.
The Republican SCOTUS's just ruled "money equals free speech" with all the Democrats voting against it. Which Party is pushing the trickle down policies and tax breaks for the .01%? Are you a Billionaire and can afford yoru own lobbyist?
true, but unfortunately these facts can not be accepted because it goes against the left talking points and fabricated data. Global warming you putz ;) James can you tell everyone what 3 core principles of the TEA Party are and why they are so wrong in " your eyes "? I think not ;)
Have you checked out the Democrats lately? You don't think they carry water for the corps and banks?
I wouldn't blame him at this point. But if you actually listen to what he has to say, he does recognize the Feds and the problems the government has created. His views of the BLM are shared by many, many ranchers in the west. Jack Booted tactics are becoming normal for the government. No-knock, warrentless, raids by police SWAT teams have grown from about 5K per year in the 80's to over 80,000 now.
Both parties indoctrinate their members and tell them how to think and how to vote. I never vote a party line; I think for myself. I check voting records and get nauseated when I do. Many politicians talk a good talk but their voting records tell the read story.
Ya got Dems and Dems-Light. Most of them are neo-Statists. We need to get back to our constitutional rights. The recent events in Nevada where a BLM SWAT team attacked a rancher and his family indicates the intent of the Federal Government is CONTROL of We the People. Let's not forget - they work for us!
-"younger the voter, the more likely they are to believe that neither major party represents the American people,"
-"Independents are willing to question something when it doesn’t sound quite right and can think for themselves."
-"The media has become nothing more than a partisan echo chamber for either the “Left” or the “Right,” and keeps the public dialogue confined in that narrative."
growing group on independents or not. party or non party. swing or not. SOMETHING is emerging...and Shawn said it perfectly: there is definitely a growing want and need to no longer simply be defined by voting patterns or ideology.
I am firmly independent after watching the elephants and donkeys stumble over each other for too long.
The poll results are vague and are open to interpretation. Third Way, a right wing group masquerading as the center, believes it means people who define themselves as independent represent the middle. There are a great number of people who are far left of the DNC who now consider themselves independent because of the inaction on the part of democrats on progressive issues, as well as those to the right of RNC.
Tea Party? You guys do nothing but carry water for corporations, sad part is most of you think your "takin back" something, Tea Party=Idiot party!
Yeah bit there are only 2 party's to vote for. I don't count the Tea Party unless it's Earl Gray hot.
@Letitia Pepper I wrote a book about this called Judicial Review and American Activism, self-published it on Amazon. It is also available on Kindle and some other e-book sites. In reviewing the problem independent voters have, federal court decisions that keep independent voters from being protected by the Voting Rights Act of 1965, I stumbled across the origin of judicial review. It did not originate in the United States with Marbury v. Madison as we were told in school. It was started under the Stuart kings of England, James I, Charles I, Charles II, and James II, who did not like Parliament and encouraged English courts to overturn acts of Parliament. When James II was deposed by his daughter Mary and her husband, William of Orange, one of their first actions as the new sovereigns was to put a stop to this practice by English courts. As you noted, the practice was introduced into American government by Marbury v. Madison, which had a devastating effect on American federalism. It allowed the Democratic Party to gain control of the federal judiciary and impose slavery on the United States for the next sixty years. Since any abolition of slavery would have been declared un-Constitutional by the Supreme Court, the United States could not abolish slavery without a Civil War. By contrast, because English courts were not allowed to interfere with acts of Parliament after William and Mary, the English were able to abolish slavery with a vote of Parliament in 1834.