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The Partisan Response: Independent Voters Support Greg Orman Because They're Dumb

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

The Managing Editor for, Kevin Glass, recently wrote an article about how independent candidate Greg Orman is winning the independent vote in Kansas. His argument could simply be summed up like this: Because independent and undecided voters are low-information voters, they're flocking to Greg Orman because of the "I" next to his name -- they're being swayed by a single letter, and not by who the candidate is or the issues.

Sound familiar? We'll get to this in a bit, but read the article and take in just how insulting it is to voters.

Glass' response is not uncommon. IVN contributors have responded to a number of editorials that either say independent voters are a myth or are too ignorant on the issues and current affairs to decide between the Republican and Democratic parties -- from not only sites like either, but legitimate news sites as well.

This is how dedicated partisans typically respond to independents, whether they be candidates or voters, because they simply don't know how to react to the growing number of voters who choose not to affiliate with either major party. They are incapable of thinking outside the traditional partisan paradigm, so from their perspective, independents can only be closet partisans.

"A lot of research has shown that self-identified independent voters and swing voters are only in the middle of the political spectrum because they're low-information voters," Glass writes.

The key to that sentence is to start off by saying there is "a lot" of research. It makes it sound like his point is practically proven science.

A lot of research also says that most Americans, in general, are "low-information" voters because becoming adequately informed in the U.S. isn't easy. Voters are not getting information on elections and issues that matter to them from the news, and expanding information intake requires time, money, and/or resources many voters don't have.

When someone lashes out with the accusation that someone is not a member of their party or ascribes to their way of thinking because they are a "low-information" voter, it typically indicates that the person is not as informed as they would have people believe, either.

"Self-described independent voters, numerous studies have found, are actually mild partisans," he adds a little later in the article.

Actually, research suggests independent voters are not mostly in the middle of the political spectrum as partisans like to believe, and in some cases hold even more extreme views than partisan voters and candidates.

In the partisan mindset, if a voter has opinions that are more to the right of the Republican Party and more to the left of the Democratic Party, somehow that means they fall in the middle. However, the idea of a political moderate is more of a myth than partisans like Glass believe true independents are.

Glass' entire case for why Greg Orman is doing so well in Kansas with independent voters rests on the notion that independent Kansas voters really don't know much, because if they did then they would know that Orman is really a Democrat -- the main (and only) talking point incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts has used against Orman on the campaign trail.

"Still two facts have to grappled with: Republicans have historically won majorities of the independent vote in Kansas, which Roberts is not poised to do; and independents are strongly disapproving of President Obama's job performance," Glass writes.

Is this really that difficult to understand, though? Is it possible that independents in Kansas could disapprove of the president AND Republicans in the state at the same time? In the partisan mindset, no it shouldn't be possible, so this must mean voters are confused and just not informed.

Maybe, just maybe, Roberts is doing so poorly with Kansas independents (who, as Glass points out, previously supported him) and Kansas voters in general because many voters don't believe the senator has served the state or their interests. After all, Roberts' approval rating is dismal. According to a recent NBC News/Marist poll, only 36 percent of registered voters have a favorable view of the senator.

Roberts isn't the only Republican incumbent who is in danger of losing his seat either, according to some public opinion polls. The Real Clear Politics polling average shows a tie between Kanas Governor Sam Brownback and Democrat Paul Davis -- which seems to throw a wrench in the hypothesis that Orman is only doing well with independents because of the "I" next to his name.

Interestingly enough, the NBC News/Marist poll also found that many voters will be voting against a candidate rather than for one, so it seems many voters are just not happy with the Republican incumbents.

"But if Orman wins, it's going to be because he ran as an independent instead of a Democrat. It'll have nothing to do with issues and it'll have nothing to do with the temperature of the electorate. It'll have everything to do with the letters next to the politicians' names and the heuristics used by low-information voters to make decisions." - Kevin Glass, Managing Editor

This is interesting considering that is how most partisan incumbents and major party candidates stay in office and win elections under electoral systems rigged to favor the two major parties in all integral stages of the voting process.

Maybe, just maybe, Kansas is not as "red" as political commentators believe -- nor is it turning "blue." In fact, Kansas is a good example of why we need to redefine how we look at the political and electoral landscape in the United States.

With a growing number of voters choosing not to affiliate with a political party or who choose to look at elections from an independent-minded perspective, such partisan terms have quickly become outdated.

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