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When Only Partisan Voters Vote, Only Partisan Candidates Are Elected

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In an article published on Friday, June 13, 2014, Vox writer Ezra Klein highlights was is arguably the most important thing to take from Pew’s survey on partisanship in America. It is something that has been talked about many times on IVN, and confirmed by research groups like Pew Research: the people who participate most in politics are the most partisan and most ideological.

Why is this so important? Because we cannot simply blame our politicians for the canyon-like partisan division in Washington. Sure, our lawmakers ultimately decide how they are going to legislate, but they are also legislating to appease a base that keeps them in office.

American politics is increasingly driven by a small group of highly ideological, highly partisan, highly politically engaged people.
Ezra Klein, Vox writer
Pew not only found that the partisan divide is widening and political antipathy is deepening, but it also found that party identity is more consistently aligned with the ideological extremes than ever before. So, as the most partisan members of the Republican and Democratic parties move more to the right or to the left, respectively, the United States is seeing the election of lawmakers who cater to this bloc of voters.

These voters are the most politically active. These are the voters who donate to campaigns, who write letters to lawmakers, who are the most active on social media, and perhaps more importantly: they vote in primaries.

“American politics is increasingly driven by a small group of highly ideological, highly partisan, highly politically engaged people,” Klein writes.

The flaw, however, in how most news outlets report on this shift is to say it represents the American people as a whole. Political commentators in the mainstream media, most of whom are partisan talking heads, say that a more divided Congress is simply a reflection of a more polarized American electorate. This is not true.

What the media often fails to educate voters on is the importance of primary elections.

Due to over 200 years of partisan gerrymandering and election laws that put the interests of private organizations over the interests of voters, general elections in most congressional races are considered non-competitive each election year. In other words, these general elections might as well be considered solely a formality because the system is rigged to favor one major party or the other. This makes primary elections a pivotal stage in the election process.

 

Just 35 of 435 Elections Competitive after 201 Years of Gerrymandering

 

Just ask U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor how important he thinks primary elections are now.

On Tuesday, he became the first House majority leader in U.S. history to lose his seat in the primary election — a seat he has retained in previous general elections with almost 60 percent of the vote. So, as the district is heavily Republican, it stands to reason that the winner of the primary election will ultimately win the general election, something that is usually decided by less than 10 percent of the voting population.

National turnout during primary elections averages around 9 percent and historically it is the most partisan voters who participate. So, it doesn’t take very many voters to threaten an incumbency, especially if there is an organized grassroots movement that is attempting to oust “establishment” lawmakers. And when candidates are elected by less than 10 percent of the voting population — sometimes less than 5 percent — it seems only inevitable that they will legislate to appease whoever this 10 percent is.

It is unreasonable to suggest that 10 percent of the voting population represents the American people as a whole.
Shawn M. Griffiths, IVN Editor-in-Chief
It is unreasonable to suggest that 10 percent of the voting population represents the American people as a whole.

A growing number of Americans are choosing not to register with the major parties that have abandoned them — most of these voters are choosing not to register under a party label at all, major or minor. An even larger percentage of the American public — a plurality — self-identifies as independent. A majority of Americans believe neither major party represents them and many voters often end up voting with a “lesser-of-two-evils” mentality

Is the American public becoming more polarized? No. However, the current election system encourages partisanship as it protects the interests of private organizations — the major political parties — over the interests of voters. It seeks to divide the American people into factions, when a growing number of Americans don’t want to be a member of a political faction. It tells voters that they don’t have real choice and that their vote doesn’t matter, and if they don’t want to waste their vote or if they want full participation then they better associate with a party.

There is no guarantee that election reform will immediately turnaround voter participation numbers, but what is evident is that as partisanship worsens, disenchantment with the current political system grows and that is resulting in lower voter turnouts. People don’t want to participate in a system they have no confidence in or they believe they have no real voice in. So, the first step is to give them a system that guarantees they have a full and meaningful voice.

Join the discussion Please be relevant and respectful.

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


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905 comments
Jan Goldberg
Jan Goldberg

Or when they feel voting for either candidate would violate their own personal ethics! Big problem in this election.

Arlene Hemm
Arlene Hemm

How can anyone believe in the elections - or in this evil government

Cheryl Sedlock
Cheryl Sedlock

See, I think there are many of us who vote by mail in ballot, and many more who fly under the radar and keep their political feelings, thoughts and party affiliations very private. Those folks don't polled.

Myk Halibut
Myk Halibut

Voting is immoral, you're forcing your ideas and opinions on other people.

Toni Mikel
Toni Mikel

That is what I am afraid of...,all these young voters or disenfranchised old ones like me staying home

Howard Arthur
Howard Arthur

Hard to get very excited to vote after what has just happened in these Democratic caucuses and primaries. They might as well have told us to just stay home...we already have our candidate...and no matter how hard you try, we will find a way to manipulate the votes in our candidate's favor. So, exactly! Why even bother voting anymore? It's all preordained.

Myke McCormick
Myke McCormick

No matter what vote. Vote "none of the abive." Write in Lord Voldemort. Let them know we are aware of their fraud. The system isn't broken. The system is working just as the Oligarchy intended. Break it & refuse to cooperate with govt at every opportunity.

Darwin Larson
Darwin Larson

First thing I do is ask did you vote no vote no bitching

Kerry Woods
Kerry Woods

ignores the fact that very many voters/taxpayers on both sides of the political divide are SATISFIED w/their prospective choices just because "the Establishment" DOES work for them, they have vested interests in it and will vote either Republican or Democrat because they want to see it continue FOR THEMSELVES. this is the real obstacle to overcome if we are to create a more inclusive political atmosphere for ALL citizens.

Terry Frame
Terry Frame

When November comes, put a write-in vote for Bernie Sanders. If all of the Bernie Sanders supporters would do this he might win the election.

LaVerne Scullion Gapinski Koch
LaVerne Scullion Gapinski Koch

VOTE. BLUE !!! WE Need " SANITY" BACK IN AMERICA !! \U0001f1fa\U0001f1f8\U0001f1fa\U0001f1f8\U0001f1fa\U0001f1f8\U0001f44d\U0001f44d\U0001f49e

Shawn DuFresne
Shawn DuFresne

Allow the four major party candidates to debate. The two party system is over.

Lynda Lasich
Lynda Lasich

So what?! If you independent voters can manage to organize your own primaries, caucuses, and candidates then you can vote for them, Stop depending on others to do your job for you. I'm done with the Independent Voter and will delete them from my FB page.

Donnie Sears
Donnie Sears

The two party's have Americans hating each other.Then they sit in DC and laugh at us knowing how they control the followers of their chosen party.Things will never change until people see both party's have failed the American people.How can people in Congress keep getting reelected when only 14% of the people are satisfied with the job Congress is doing.It is because they think it is the other politicians causing the problems.They think their elected politicians are doing a great job.Maybe they need to take the blinders off.Things will never change as long as people vote for a party without knowing what the person stands for.

Wynn Musser
Wynn Musser

The worst part is, that come election day, there will be a THIRD NAME on the ballot in ALL 50 STATES and almost NOBODY will have heard a word about or from THAT candidate because the PRESStitutes of the Media have been tasked with NOT admitting he exists and NOT covering him! FYI America, Gary Johnson is ALSO RUNNING!

Aggie Brown
Aggie Brown

This petition would not accept my declared State!

Jackie Carden
Jackie Carden

There's no reason to vote, they've proven that

Eric Magro
Eric Magro

This is very true. I registered Democratic so I could vote in our "closed" partisan primaries, but I don't have allegiance to that party. The American voter is increasingly being dealt out of the election process by both parties who have decided who will get elected long before the people have any say in the matter.

Jeff Leitson
Jeff Leitson

A system based on 51% winner doesn't work when only 20-60% vote!

Jeanette Dennis Eddery
Jeanette Dennis Eddery

Why is it we hear people complain about who is running for any position whether President or the mayor because they don't like the candidates...yet 57% don't vote. I can NOT do that. I am an American If you not vote you lose. Slap them upside the head. Tell anyone, everyone to vote.

Jane Neil
Jane Neil

When you turn 18 and have to register with the draft you should automatically be registered to vote. I think all 18 year old's should and maybe are required to do this regardless of sex or disabilities.

Mike Barnes
Mike Barnes

Douglas Brown Bernie lost not by super delicate but by the vote of the people

Pat McCutchen
Pat McCutchen

Absolutely true . . . why would anyone vote for a fraudulent candidate like s'Hillary Clinton and the Republicrat party that systematically and deliberately disenfranchised them???

Greg Hosier
Greg Hosier

Trump is not a partisan candidate vote trump for change or be quiet

Tim Canning
Tim Canning

It's not just a lack of confidence,its obvious your vote won't count.

JF Nowinski
JF Nowinski

Freedom to be a moron. Isn't it grand. People died for that, and people are wasting it. Oh well time for another 'reset'. Many will not see the other side of it.

Gordon W. Gallimore Jr.
Gordon W. Gallimore Jr.

Delegate vote not with constituants. Delegates picked by some group in the shadows of life. The have added corruption to the geatest society design. Amazing!

Mark Hale
Mark Hale

I am expecting any day now our Islamicratic media will announce Killary has been elected our new Islamic prez.... But, the people have not voted yet, media says that is just a formality!

Micah Haley
Micah Haley

If votes at the ballot box are not counted then voters will eventually start casting them from the rooftops. The 1% are in for one hell of a come to Jesus moment soon...

Johnny Gibson
Johnny Gibson

Apparently Also When Nonpartisan Voters Vote They Are Confounded and Ignored, So Only Partisan Candidates Are Elected

Mark Ell
Mark Ell

NPA here me,Loud and clear!!!

Keith Cooper
Keith Cooper

It's exactly true. I know people are going to say, 'That's what they want you to think'. The reality is we are apart of a crooked system that will create the results they want by any means necessary. I only vote because many African Americans have suffered horrors commintted by this govt to make sure we have the right to vote. I don't vote because I believe my vote means something. The DNC showed us what this country is really about and that is just one thing 'CORRUPTION'. If you think you're marching is going to change that you are just naive.

Arnold Lane
Arnold Lane

have another financial crisis..that will get people voting

Rich Ferro
Rich Ferro

If you don't vote, don't complain. You got what you deserve. Voting is a responsibility.

Patrick Kelly
Patrick Kelly

Partisans not only overlook the flaws of their candidate many shamelessly defend them. A true independent would acknowledge the flaws of all candidates otherwise they are part of the problem. I wish there was a strong independent whose vote total could send a message to the major parties like Perot once did. But really Gary Johnson is more independent friendly than he is libertarian friendly and anyone who has not at least looked into who he is and what he stands for yet, should do so.

Hovnan Jonah Alexanian
Hovnan Jonah Alexanian

It’s time to demand accountability from our politicians. Mr. Trump bring “YOU’RE FIRED” to the world of politics in the form of “YOU’RE RECALLED” unless you too just want to become what you want to replace. And if you think this can’t be done cost effectively or legally than you just failed as President. Hint, think outside the box, think Internet, think sign up, think volunteers…

Marvel Harrison
Marvel Harrison

Results of all this leads to the Partisan Candidates with the least qualifications being Elected to "Lead" a Nation! This Cannot Possibly End with Any Positive, Progressive, Desirable Outcomes.

Michael Rinard
Michael Rinard

one i, for voters i.d. and thum finger printing on the voting machines this way you can not vote 2 to 3+ times and the feaf can't vote ether.

Emily Patterson
Emily Patterson

We should have proportional representation for the candidates who receive a significant percentage of the vote (anything over 2%), like parliamentary systems. That way people CAN vote their conscience, WITHOUT feeling like they are throwing their vote away, or worse, feeling like they are voting for the person they dislike. But the question is how to do that and still maintain the personal accountability of voting for a particular candidate, not just a faceless party...

Nick Burger
Nick Burger

This is a dark moment in our countries history.

Shannon McCall Pendergrass
Shannon McCall Pendergrass

Very true or worse the partisans show with their delusions of a "lesser evil" LIE and we all get screwed.

Marianne Flanagan
Marianne Flanagan

the majority of average people I know do not even bother with the news because they know its not news. Many of them have no idea what is going on behind the elections this year.

James Ayers
James Ayers

We all have to keep voting it's the only outlet we have anymore. If so many vote against the established parties maybe we well have change. Go Bernie and third parties.

Shelle Johnson
Shelle Johnson

How does that help when they don't count all the votes anyway? They only count the ones that matter to their agenda.

James Ayers
James Ayers

The more people who vote for a third party and don't get counted the more people will start to realize we need to take this country back from the rich people. Remember there are more of us than of them and they are scared of us. So if enough of us start protesting in great numbers, shades of the Vietnam protests. Non violent protests then who knows what will happen.