A survey of attendees at the 2017 People’s Summit in Chicago -- conducted by members of Independent Voting’s national network -- probed:
- Whether concern over the process by which the 2016 presidential elections were conducted had faded;
- Whether the American people could directly engage the issue of political power; and
- If the Democratic Party could be a vehicle to effect empowerment for the American people, or if partisan interests would prevent it from doing so.
The 20-question survey was conducted in one-on-one conversations by a team of independents from Idaho, Ohio, New York, and Illinois who attended The People’s Summit, a magnet for grassroots activists from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
“Senator Sanders put it bluntly last month when he said the Democratic Party will not succeed unless it attracts many, many millions of independents,” said Gwen Mandell, Director of National Outreach for Independent Voting who organized the survey team at the People’s Summit.
“We made it our business to speak to hundreds of grassroots activists about this and to see if they shared the concerns that independent voters have about the political process. They overwhelmingly do.” - Gwen Mandell, IndependentVoting.org
Over 60% of People’s Summit survey takers identified as something other than Democrat or Republican, while a whopping 93% thought the Democratic Party should open its presidential primaries to independent voters in the 2020 election.
In 2016, an estimated 26.3 million independents were excluded from voting in the presidential primaries because they lived in states with closed primaries.
Among survey takers, 88% were not satisfied with the choice of candidates in the general election, and 89% thought the Democratic Party was “out of touch” with the concerns of most people in the U.S. -- only slightly less than the 95% who thought Donald Trump was similarly out of touch.
“The opportunity for Democrats to form a new majority coalition with independent voters has been on the table for many years,” said Rick Robol, member of Ohio Veterans for Sanders and Independent Voting’s National Election Reform Committee.
He added, “Support from the grassroots and from independent voters for the Sanders campaign pushed this issue squarely on the table, and we are excited to be engaged in conversation with the base of the party about the bridge-building that needs to take place.”
Of those polled, 97% agreed with the statement that the real struggle for America is not between Democrats and Republicans, but between mainstream America and the ruling political elites.
In addition, 95% felt that in order for the country to prosper and for new coalitions and a new culture of politics to be created, it was necessary to move beyond the traditional categories of “left, center, and right,” divisions that political parties play off of.
When asked to react to the statement, “As a progressive, I see the Democratic Party as our only way forward,” 69% of respondents disagreed.
Over 75% wanted to see Sanders run for president in 2020 and 44% want to see him run as an independent.
In response to a question about whether ideology should stand in the way of building a broad coalition, 74% of respondents said they want to see Sanders form a third party that would join forces with other independents from the left, center, and right of the political spectrum.
In response to the statement, “No American should be required to join an organization on any kind to be able to exercise their right to vote,” 97% agreed.
“I found a shared sentiment around changing the way we elect our country's elected officials,” said Jarrell Corley, an African American and independent voter activist from Chicago.
“Most participants were Bernie fans and are deeply disappointed with the DNC's rules and their blatant actions to ignore the will of their party's voters. There is definitely room to come together and fight to change the political system despite ideological differences." - Jarrell Corley
"The corporate media wants to distract us and keep us separated. The American people are smarter than this and are ready for a new tone in the political arena,” he added.