Here in Arizona about one third of our registered voters are Independents. They are courted by the two major parties because they are believed to be persuadable…wise voters who vote for the best man or woman and not simply at their party’s call.
This certainly is the story that some independents believe or report about themselves. It is a report that seems to imply they are actively interested in the nation’s political life and are regular voters.
But that can’t possibly be true of all of them since only a third or more of all registered voters actually go to the polls. Some significant portion of the independents simply don’t vote and don’t want to be bothered.
The roll of independents has surely risen because traditional Republicans and Democrats are annoyed with what they feel are the heresies of their parties.
Young voters register as Independents because they don’t want to be connected to any “establishment.” They may get fired up for their first election, but will they come back to the polling booth when the party they voted for is defeated; or the one that won disappoints them?
I registered as an independent for two reasons. The first is that in Arizona I had a choice of primaries. If I wanted I could vote for the other party’s “worst man” without having to reregister. The second reason was that I was really annoyed with my party, so I left it. I’m sure they didn’t care.
Does that mean I’ll vote for “the other party?” The chances are slim to none. No matter how annoyed I am I’m still a “my party” guy and will vote that way. I suspect that’s true for he other side of the aisle, too.
Politically active Independents are either Republicans or Democrats and the chances that you can move them from one party to the other are not good.
But this is supposition on my part. Now I need the aid of the Tucson Citizen community, particularly from the political science folks among us. Does a higher percentage of registered Independents vote than Democrats or Republicans? Is there any hard data on the behavior of Independents that shows how often they actually switch parties in major elections?