On “Independent” Voters

Pew has a new study that confirms our basic understanding of "independents."

Pew Research has a report out that confirms, yet again, that the self-identified “independents” are who we thought they were: Political Independents: Who They Are, What They Think:

Independents often are portrayed as political free agents with the potential to alleviate the nation’s rigid partisan divisions. Yet the reality is that most independents are not all that “independent” politically. And the small share of Americans who are truly independent – less than 10% of the public has no partisan leaning – stand out for their low level of interest in politics.

Among the public overall, 38% describe themselves as independents, while 31% are Democrats and 26% call themselves Republicans, according to Pew Research Center surveys conducted in 2018. These shares have changed only modestly in recent years, but the proportion of independents is higher than it was from 2000-2008, when no more than about a third of the public identified as independents. (For more on partisan identification over time, see the 2018 report “Wide Gender Gap, Growing Educational Divide in Voters’ Party Identification.”)

An overwhelming majority of independents (81%) continue to “lean” toward either the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. Among the public overall, 17% are Democratic-leaning independents, while 13% lean toward the Republican Party. Just 7% of Americans decline to lean toward a party, a share that has changed little in recent years. This is a long-standing dynamic that has been the subject of past analyses, both by Pew Research Center and others.

The data are clear:

Independents outnumber Republicans and Democrats, but few are truly independent

The bottom line remains:  any talk that this 38% of “independents” forms the basis of a “third way” politics is simply incorrect.  There really aren’t 38% of the voters who are independent in the sense that they truly deviate from those who consider themselves partisans. Note this graph from the WaPo write-up of the study:

Note how closely “leaners” track with the party they lean towards.  In other words:  the 38% who call themselves “independent” are really three groups:  people who vote Republican, but don’t want to call themselves Republican, people who vote Democratic, but who don’t want to call themselves Democrats, and then a small slice (9% in this study) who really are truly independent.

What is especially interesting about that last group, is that this study show them to be the least politically active.  They had the lowest registration and by far the lowest voter turnout in 2018 all all independents:

Independents who do not lean to a party less likely to say they voted in 2018

This is not to say that if we had a different electoral system, or some other structure changes to our institutions that we wouldn’t get more parties–that is a different issue entirely.  What is does suggest, however, is that the data show, yet again, that there is not some moderate center in the US that is distinct from Republicans and Democrats and that would emerge as a new party if only the right person would champion such a cause.  The fantasies of Ross Perot, Michael Bloomberg, Howard Schultz and so forth are just that:  fantasies.

A side note by way of conclusion:  in looking at the archives I found a number of posts that discuss this topic, including one from James Joyner in 2012:  40 Percent of Americans Identify as Independents; 10 Percent Actually Independents (which almost exactly tracks with the chart of above).*

One more note:  I wish the table included “other party/don’t know” (especially “other party” as this kind of presentation of the data basically reinforces the notion that we don’t have other parties).

 


*Those who were involved in the discussion thread of Where Have All the Commenters Gone?  may find the comment thread of that 2012 post of interest, as it touches on on topic and past commenter raised in that thread.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    Certain words strike people as cool. ‘Independent’ sounds so individual, so authentic. Of course it’s b.s. Like when people say, “Yeah, I’m a bit of a loner,” but they have a dozen friends they see on a regular basis. People are desperate for definition. Here are my key words, here’s my avatar, here’s my online bio. . . It’s either funny or sad, depending on your intake of intoxicants.

    Who you are is not what you say you are but what you do. Of course that’s a bit of a challenge if all you do is hang around online endlessly defining yourself.

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  2. merl says:

    I was an Independent for years but always voted a straight Democratic ticket so I just went ahead and registered as a Democrat so I could vote in the primaries.

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  3. DrDaveT says:

    In other words: the 38% who call themselves “independent” are really three groups: people who vote Republican, but don’t want to call themselves Republican, people who vote Democratic, but who don’t want to call themselves Democrats, and then a small slice (9% in this study) who really are truly independent.

    No. We’ve been over this before. I don’t know why you want the word ‘independent’ to mean something having to do with voting patterns, or moderate positions, rather than something to do with party identification and, y’know, independence. You can tell the difference between those very different things, right?

    Here’s my alternative version of your sentence:

    In other words: the 38% who call themselves “independent” are really three groups: people who vote for Republicans at the moment, but not because those candidates call themselves Republican; people who vote Democratic at the moment, but not because those candidates call themselves Democrats; and then a small slice (9% in this study) who have sufficiently eclectic or single-issue views that there is a low correlation between what they vote for and party affiliation.

    An independent is someone who does not trust any party to consistently support the platform she would prefer. At present, the vast majority of such people have no difficulty figuring out which of the available candidates is closer to their own positions, because the platforms of the two parties are about as far apart as they can possibly be.

    If the relationship between party affiliation and policy position were immutable, this would be a distinction without a difference — but as we’ve seen repeatedly over time, the policies associated with a given party can and do change radically, even over relatively short timelines.

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  4. James Joyner says:

    @DrDaveT:

    An independent is someone who does not trust any party to consistently support the platform she would prefer. At present, the vast majority of such people have no difficulty figuring out which of the available candidates is closer to their own positions, because the platforms of the two parties are about as far apart as they can possibly be.

    From a Sociology or Psychology standpoint, you make a good point: how people view themselves matters. From a Political Science standpoint, though, what really matters is how people behave politically.

    If the relationship between party affiliation and policy position were immutable, this would be a distinction without a difference — but as we’ve seen repeatedly over time, the policies associated with a given party can and do change radically, even over relatively short timelines.

    So, I was a Republican from at least the 1976 election and voted that way with two or three down-ballot exceptions from 1984 to 2012. The party and I changed but I wasn’t an Independent. From 2016 to present, I’m psychologically a man without a party. I’d probably call myself an Independent. But, for all practical purposes, I’m a Democrat right now and will be unless there’s some massive realignment.

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  5. gVOR08 says:

    Rove was an incredible asshat, but he wasn’t wrong when he said modern elections are turnout elections. You don’t campaign to sway undecideds, you campaign to fire up your side and demotivate the other side. I’ll vote for any D who’s nominated, but I want the party to nominate someone with charisma who can play to the left without pissing off the right. A delicate game.

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  6. @DrDaveT: I simply do not understand the argument that a metric that is directly linked to actual voting behavior should be divorced from voting behavior in the definition of the metric.

    You can define it however you would like, but the basic phenomenon remains the same.

    What matters is how they vote, not what they call themselves nor what they think what they call themselves means. If we were analyzing why people choose a given word to describe themselves, that is a different matter. When trying to sort out voting behavior as linked to self-description, then what matters is the voting behavior.

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  7. Jen says:

    I’m a former Republican (have mentioned before here that I actually worked in R-party politics), who long ago–at least two decades by now, maybe a bit more–determined the party was not reflective of my views. I did not immediately identify as a Democrat at that point, I went the “I’m an independent” route and did a fair amount of ticket-splitting over a few elections.

    I have routinely voted for Democrats for a while now, but maintain my NH “undeclared” voter status, as it allows me to vote in whichever primary I think is most important (voted for Kasich over Trump last time, as it was clear Sanders was going to win the NH primary over Clinton).

    This does not surprise me at all, and I agree with Michael–it makes people “feel” like they are thinkers/open minded to say that they are Independents when really it’s just “I’m annoyed with the party but can’t bring myself to vote for the other ‘team.'”

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  8. @DrDaveT:

    I don’t know why you want the word ‘independent’ to mean something having to do with voting patterns, or moderate positions, rather than something to do with party identification and, y’know, independence. You can tell the difference between those very different things, right?

    From a vocabulary POV, of course I can.

    From a voter-behavior POV, I am seeing two groups that call themselves different things, but behave the same way.

    Can you not see that a guy who says he has no ice cream flavor preference, but reliably buys vanilla is actually a vanilla ice-cream purchasers regardless of what he calls himself?

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  9. Grewgills says:

    @DrDaveT:

    In other words: the 38% who call themselves “independent” are really three groups: people who vote for Republicans at the moment, but not because those candidates call themselves Republican; people who vote Democratic at the moment, but not because those candidates call themselves Democrats; and then a small slice (9% in this study) who have sufficiently eclectic or single-issue views that there is a low correlation between what they vote for and party affiliation.

    I don’t buy that. I don’t have time at the moment to find the research I looked into the last time this came up, but the patterns are pretty persistent. To further modify the sentence

    In other words: the 38% who call themselves “independent” are really three groups: people who vote for Republicans for several elections in a row over a decade or more, but say it’s not because those candidates call themselves Republican; people who vote Democratic for several elections in a row over a decade or more, but say it’s not because those candidates call themselves Democrats; and then a small slice (9% in this study) who pay little enough attention that there is a low correlation between what they vote for and party affiliation.

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  10. Tyrell says:

    @DrDaveT: I would like to see a study of today’s southern Democrat voters.
    Many people have an image of Southern people sitting on the shade sipping on mint juleps. That is false.
    You will find a lot of Southern people at the racetracks, barbecue joints, and following Tar Heel basketball.

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  11. Kit says:

    Just for the record, I really enjoy looking at those old posts, but really regret that the thumbs up / down record has been lost.

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  12. @Tyrell: ???

    (although, ironically enough, I am on my back porch at the moment. But sipping on a LaCroix).

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  13. Stormy Dragon says:

    Yet the reality is that most independents are not all that “independent” politically

    What would qualify as a politically independent independent?

    Because the argument here seem to be that if someone votes for one of the two major parties they’re not an politically independent because they vote for that party, but if they don’t vote for the two major parities they’re not an politically independent because they’re not politically engaged?

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  14. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    What matters is how they vote, not what they call themselves nor what they think what they call themselves means.

    Then that’s a tautology since voting is pretty much binary choice.

    How, for example, should we analyze elections results from California’s Top Two system that had Democrats running against Democrats? If a Republican votes for one of them does that mean they are de facto Democrats and their actual political preferences don’t matter?

    That’s the whole problem with this type of analysis about independents. When there are only two choices, of course leaners and those who aren’t completely in the tank for one side or another must sort themselves according to the reality of our political system. Extrapolating from that to assume actual voter preferences is a mistake.

    In short, focusing only on voting patterns of those who choose to vote doesn’t tell us why people voted the way they did and what their choice would be in different circumstances (and then there are all the people who choose not to vote – there’s plenty of good polling on their reasons)

    It’s also not clear how the impact of single-party districts is taken into account, cases where contests are decided in the primary or generally the increasing number of districts that are not competitive such that voting doesn’t matter much.

    So I think the narrative the independents are just weak or cowardly partisans is just wrong – or at least not universally right – I’m sure there are independents who actually fit that mold, but painting with a broad brush given the lack of actual data is a mistake. Focusing on voter behavior in a binary system is inherently limiting and tells us very little about actual political preferences.

    @Stormy Dragon: Yes, that’s exactly the problem in my view. It’s a tautology.

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  15. JDM says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: And yet, LaCroix is the Independent amongst beverages. It’s not mineral water, and it’s not really a soft drink. It’s something in between.

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  16. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Can you not see that a guy who says he has no ice cream flavor preference, but reliably buys vanilla is actually a vanilla ice-cream purchasers regardless of what he calls himself?

    If that person’s choices are the entire Ben and Jerry’s catalog, then you could credibly claim to know that person’s actual preference. If that person’s choices, however, are limited to a binary between vanilla and chocolate then that only tells us their binary preference at the particular moment.

    Also, we don’t know how reliably people vote (or buy vanilla in your analogy). Good data for individual voter history generally does not exist, so Pew and Gallup do not have that kind of fidelity. And Pew, at least, very specifically does not trust poll respondent recollections about past voting behavior. So they don’t know how often people switch votes from one election to the next, for example.

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  17. Jen says:

    @Stormy Dragon: My definition of a true independent would be someone who actively assesses each candidate and makes a determination outside of party platform. This is far easier to do in competitive districts, which is one reason I think that gerrymandering to safe seats is such a problem.

    Example–if a district is truly competitive, candidates stay closer to the center–votes are less predetermined by party line (happens occasionally) and more by the district. When this happens, other factors start getting considered: e.g., is the person honest? Does he or she run a solid office and respond to constituents?

    On a federal level this is one advantage to living in New Hampshire. Yes, our delegation is currently all Democrats, but District 1 has flipped from D to R and back again fairly regularly in the dozen or so years I’ve been a resident of this state.

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  18. Alex H says:

    We’ll never know how truly independent these people are since there isn’t a third party apparatus in place to give them real choices. Until then, of course your only going to get binary voting patterns. It’s way too hard for the average voter to keep up with the issues on a national level, let alone state and local. Most people will just pick a team, otherwise they won’t vote at all.

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  19. Kylopod says:

    One related phenomenon we’ve discussed before is that in certain deep-red states and districts, particularly in the South, a majority of voters are registered as Democrats. Kentucky is a prime example. I’ve seen some analysts use the term “ancestral Dems,” because these are voters who once identified with the Democrats, who may have voted for Jimmy Carter and/or Bill Clinton, but who are effectively Republicans in terms of their voting patterns now.

    This is crucial to understanding stuff like how Doug Jones won the 2017 Alabama race. According to exit polls, Moore still won 91% of the Republican vote. Small defections by Republicans to Jones, or staying home or writing in a name were factors in Moore’s narrow defeat. But the most dramatic change from a standard election in Alabama could be seen by the votes of independents and Democrats. In 2008, 72% of indies and 21% of Democrats voted for Jeff Sessions, compared to 43% and 2% for Moore respectively. What this suggests is that there are a significant number of voters in Alabama who identify as indie or Dem, but who regularly vote Republican and help make Alabama the super-red state it is. The difference is that they are slightly less loyal to the GOP in extreme situations like the Roy Moore fiasco.

    A lot of election analysis makes the mistake of taking people’s partisan self-identification at face value, overlooking the fact that millions of Americans call themselves one thing and in practice usually vote differently: people who identify as Democrat but usually vote Republican; vice versa; and “independents” who regularly vote for one of the two major parties. I’m always running across sentences like this: “What’s important isn’t how the candidate does among Democrats or Republicans but whether he is able to attract independents.” How independents vote is certainly important in any election, but it’s a fallacy to think of them as unmoored from partisan leanings, and there’s evidence that more indies today are closet Republicans than closet Democrats. Both Romney and Trump won the indie vote handily while losing the popular vote overall, and in Romney’s case also losing the EC. Yet the myth that indies are the fundamental determining factor in elections and that they are essentially synonymous with “swing voters” persists.

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  20. James Joyner says:

    @Andy:

    If that person’s choices are the entire Ben and Jerry’s catalog, then you could credibly claim to know that person’s actual preference. If that person’s choices, however, are limited to a binary between vanilla and chocolate then that only tells us their binary preference at the particular moment.

    So, I’ve voted in every Presidential election since 1984. I think I’ve enthusiastically supported the candidate I voted for twice. But, having voted for the Republican in 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012, on might reasonably conclude that I was a Republican, regardless of what I called myself (which, it turns out, was “Republican”). That I might have preferred butter pecan is really beside the point.

    Having voted, with no enthusiasm, whatsoever in 2016 and having voted Democrat in statewide races in 2017 and 2018, I’m effectively a Democrat now even though I wouldn’t apply that label to myself.

    @Andy:

    In short, focusing only on voting patterns of those who choose to vote doesn’t tell us why people voted the way they did and what their choice would be in different circumstances (and then there are all the people who choose not to vote – there’s plenty of good polling on their reasons)

    Those are interesting research questions. They’re just not ones that party ID is designed to answer.

    @Stormy Dragon:

    What would qualify as a politically independent independent?

    Because the argument here seem to be that if someone votes for one of the two major parties they’re not an politically independent because they vote for that party, but if they don’t vote for the two major parities they’re not an politically independent because they’re not politically engaged?

    If someone voted for, say: Nixon, Humphrey, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Dole, Gore, Kerry, McCain, Obama, and Clinton I’d say they’re probably independents. If they voted Nixon, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Reagan, Perot, Dole, Bush, Bush, McCain, Romney, Trump, I’d say they’re Republican despite one “Independent” vote.

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  21. Tev says:

    For a long time here in Florida ancestral Dems were a holdover from 70 years ago when white racists were Dems. Even after the white racists switched nationally to the GOP in the 60s and 70s, the local and state Dem races were still decided in the Dem primary, so for years you had lots of white conservative racists who were still registered Dem and voted Dem in local and state races, but voted Republican for national elections. But that’s mostly faded away now, and the white racists are almost all registered Republican now.

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  22. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I simply do not understand the argument that a metric that is directly linked to actual voting behavior should be divorced from voting behavior in the definition of the metric.

    You’re assuming your conclusion by saying that whether or not one is an independent voter is “directly linked to actual voting behavior”. If you define it that way, then of course — you’ve created a tautology. But you have also redefined ‘independent’ to mean something new — something about votes, rather than something about party affiliation.

    Try this analogy: suppose you were trapped in a town that only had two available things to eat — vegetables, and rat poison. Being the sensible person you are, you would eat vegetables and not eat rat poison. Would this make you a vegetarian? Your behavior, in that context, would be indistinguishable from that of vegetarians. No matter how much you wanted a steak, or some barbecued ribs, you would still look just like a vegetarian at the checkout counter.

    On your analysis, yes — that would make you a vegetarian, because vegetarianism is defined by what you eat, regardless of the reasons for it. On my analysis, it would make you a frustrated omnivore — and the difference would become obvious the day pork chops showed up at the grocery store. My analysis correctly predicts how behavior will change when context changes. Yours does not.

    What matters is how they vote, not what they call themselves nor what they think what they call themselves means.

    No, what matters is why they vote the way they do, and whether they would vote differently if the labels on the various candidates changed. Which has nothing at all to do with how they describe themselves.

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  23. DrDaveT says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Can you not see that a guy who says he has no ice cream flavor preference, but reliably buys vanilla is actually a vanilla ice-cream purchasers regardless of what he calls himself?

    Purchaser, yes, at least for the moment. Aficionado? that depends on what other flavors are available. If he’s a Rocky Road lover, and the only flavors available are vanilla and green tea, then his purchases do not describe his preferences — or what he would buy in a real ice cream store.

    US politics, at the moment, offers vanilla and earwax as the only flavors on the menu. Reliably buying vanilla in that situation doesn’t make me a vanilla-lover.

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  24. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    From a Sociology or Psychology standpoint, you make a good point: how people view themselves matters.

    Actually, my comment had nothing to do with how people view themselves. It’s about how people would vote if they had more choices, or different choices — and whether those votes would depend on which party label gets attached to the options.

    The party and I changed but I wasn’t an Independent. From 2016 to present, I’m psychologically a man without a party. I’d probably call myself an Independent.

    You’re an independent, but not an independent? How does that work? You’ve lost me.

    But, for all practical purposes, I’m a Democrat right now and will be unless there’s some massive realignment.

    I’m a Democrat right now because the evil on the R side has gotten to the point where I will vote for any D over any R, to deny the R’s the numbers that would enable them to prosecute their evil agenda without let or hindrance. That’s a recent thing, and a sign that US politics is badly broken. I do not consider it the normal state of affairs, and I’m not sure a ‘realignment’ is what is required to fix it. You and Steven seem to always see this in terms of party affiliations and loyalties — ‘alignments’. I see it in terms of policies and issues, planks and platforms. And compromise, because neither party has been anywhere close to my ideal in my lifetime.

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  25. Andy says:

    @James Joyner:

    Having voted, with no enthusiasm, whatsoever in 2016 and having voted Democrat in statewide races in 2017 and 2018, I’m effectively a Democrat now even though I wouldn’t apply that label to myself.

    So, if Pew called you up and asked you your political affiliation, what would you say? Would that answer template onto your policy views?

    Circumstances changed for you and your voting habits changed. Pew’s polling is not able to capture that change and track it, you’ve simply moved from one aggregate camp to another in their data.

    Those are interesting research questions. They’re just not ones that party ID is designed to answer.

    That’s a big part of my point. You can’t squeeze everyone into two neat party ID categories.

    Consider the Obama-Trump voters. A couple of studies have estimated that around 10% of the those who voted for Obama in 2012 voted for Trump in 2016. That’s about 5-6 million voters. What box or category do we put them in based on their vote?

    The point being, some independents are reliably partisan, others clearly are not. Pew doesn’t tell us how many are in each group so it’s wrong to simply assume independents are all reliably partisan voters. Their data doesn’t show that – it’s a snapshot, one that could (and probably will) change by the next election.

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  26. Modulo Myself says:

    Independents mostly are middle-aged people projecting via high-school fantasies that never came close to being true. If you’re over 40 and you think national politics is a way to express yourself, you’re still 18. You can read Chomsky and Agamben, think neoliberalism is demonic, and yet without hesitation vote for Hillary Clinton. If you have to separate yourself with a minor 15,000 word aside about your political individuality, you need an actual life. And if you don’t like the two party system, you’re certainly a dull racist and misogynist who is embarrassed about liking Tucker Carlson and/or Quilette.

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  27. Kathy says:

    One election is not indicative of anything. The opinion polls are more definitive. Clearly some nominally independents lean towards one party or the other, rather than being in the middle as one might assume from the meaning of “independent.”

    But, consider me. I don’t particularly care more for one party in mexico than another, though we’re not as polarized as the US. We also have three major parties, and a bunch of smaller ones (meaning parties that get legislators elected).

    that said, I voted in 2000 for Vicente Fox of the PAN, because he looked more likely to win over the PRI candidate, and to that point the PRI had been in power uninterrupted since the late 1920s. In 2006 I voted for Calderon, the PAN candidate, because I still didn’t want to see the PRI in power, and the PRD candidate was his Majesty Manuel Andres, whom I think should never be president (he’s president now, so we’ll see how that goes; thus far he’s both better and worse than I’d expected).

    I didn’t vote in 2012, partly because I didn’t like any of the candidates, and partly because a screw up had my assigned polling place too far away. I didn’t vote in 2018, because there was no one to vote for, and it was clear His Majesty would win anyway.

    I voted int he 2003 midterms, straight PAN ticket, but haven’t bothered since (long story). I may vote in the 2021 midterms.

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  28. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    If someone voted for, say: Nixon, Humphrey, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Dole, Gore, Kerry, McCain, Obama, and Clinton I’d say they’re probably independents. If they voted Nixon, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Reagan, Perot, Dole, Bush, Bush, McCain, Romney, Trump, I’d say they’re Republican despite one “Independent” vote.

    But that’s not the argument either Pew Research or Dr. Taylor are making; no information about past voting history is presented whatsoever.

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  29. EddieInCA says:

    @Andy:

    Consider the Obama-Trump voters. A couple of studies have estimated that around 10% of the those who voted for Obama in 2012 voted for Trump in 2016. That’s about 5-6 million voters. What box or category do we put them in based on their vote?

    Box: Idiots
    Category: Morons

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  30. Robert Winn says:

    Independent voters and independent candidates for office were created by the writing and adoption of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution of the United States. As George Washington and John Adams both said, political parties are “self-created societies” that would destroy the freedom of the people. But a political party started by Thomas Jefferson took over the American government in the election of 1800, and independent voters and independent candidates for office have been excluded from participation in the government since that time. In modern times, as the numbers of independent voters were increasing, party politicians in state legislatures have been busy passing state election laws that give independent candidates impossible nomination petition signature requirements, while party candidates are given an easy access. The problem that party politicians have is that their best efforts to stop independent voter registration always create more independent voters than if they had just left it alone. So what can they say about these registered voters who are prevented from voting or being candidates for office in direct contradiction to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The only thing they can say is what the Nazi Party said about Jews: Independent voters are sub-human and do not deserve to vote or run for office.
    I would point out that this is a dangerous course for political parties. Their two little shrinking major parties are both at 28% of the voters, while independent voters continue to increase in numbers. If present trends continue, there will soon be more independent voters than all political party members combined. I am just saying that party members should be more respectful of independent voters, seeing that according to George Washington and John Adams, independent voters are registered to vote the correct way, and political party members are registered as members of “self-created societies”.

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  31. EddieInCA says:

    I’ve voted for:

    Reagan, Mondale, Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Kerry, Obama, Obama, Clinton.

    What am I?

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  32. Franklin says:

    @EddieInCA: A liar. Nobody voted for Mondale.

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  33. EddieInCA says:

    @Franklin:

    Haha!

    I actually did. By 1984, I was over the Reagan Administration.

    The only vote I regret was Bush in 2000. But I was in California, so it didn’t matter regardless.

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  34. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Tyrell: ???

    He’s the closest thing OTB has to Ken M

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  35. Robert Winn says:

    @Jen: A true independent is someone who believes what George Washington and John Adams, the first two presidents of the United States, said about political parties, that they were “self-created societies” that would destroy the freedom of the people.

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  36. Kylopod says:

    @Robert Winn:

    A true independent is someone who believes what George Washington and John Adams, the first two presidents of the United States, said about political parties, that they were “self-created societies” that would destroy the freedom of the people.

    Um…no. It’s absolutely clear today that political parties are one of the essential components of democracy. There literally has never been a functioning democracy without them, and the only countries that lack them or have only a single party are authoritarian. The Founders didn’t know that when they wrote the Constitution because there weren’t any democracies with which to compare. But it quickly became clear that the US was going have parties, and Adams himself was a member of the Federalist Party.

    The failure to anticipate parties is one of the major problems with the Constitution. Indeed, the 12th Amendment was essentially passed to deal with a mess that arose from this oversight. In the original system, the runner-up in a presidential election became vp, which is sort of like if Donald Trump were president and Hillary Clinton were vp. That’s exactly what happened in 1796: Adams and Jefferson were opposite parties, and Jefferson spent his tenure as vp trying to destroy Adams.

    Just because parties are essential doesn’t mean the US’s rigid two-party system is ideal. Many countries have more than two competitive parties and function fine. But eschewing party-identification altogether on the grounds that parties are anathema to freedom doesn’t make you a “true independent,” it makes you an ignoramus.

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  37. James Joyner says:

    @Andy:

    So, if Pew called you up and asked you your political affiliation, what would you say? Would that answer template onto your policy views?

    I would say that I’m an Independent given three options of Republican-Independent-Democrat. In the follow-up question, I’d reveal that I lean Democrat. Which is consistent with my issue and voting preferences in very recent years.

    Circumstances changed for you and your voting habits changed. Pew’s polling is not able to capture that change and track it, you’ve simply moved from one aggregate camp to another in their data.

    But it is! Not on the single party ID question but in the crosstabs when they factor in my issue preferences and voting behavior, they’re absolutely able to do so.

    The point being, some independents are reliably partisan, others clearly are not. Pew doesn’t tell us how many are in each group

    Yes! They do! We know how many self-identified partisans there are and how many self-identified leaners. And we know that their voting behavior and issue preferences are really, really close to the partisans’.

    Their data doesn’t show that – it’s a snapshot, one that could (and probably will) change by the next election.

    But very little! Trump moved a lot of Republican leaners like me—in my case, a hard-core partisan increasingly alienated from the party but still tending to vote for it—into Democrat leaners. It appears at this juncture that the realignment of the party is semi-permanent. But it’s possible, I guess, that the Democrats will become the Bernie Sanders/AOC party and the GOP will somehow reject the Trumpists and become the Larry Hogan/Mick Cornett party. So, yes, it’s a “snapshot in time” in that the parties and society evolve. But that’s all polls can possibly be.

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  38. James Joyner says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Try this analogy: suppose you were trapped in a town that only had two available things to eat — vegetables, and rat poison. Being the sensible person you are, you would eat vegetables and not eat rat poison. Would this make you a vegetarian? Your behavior, in that context, would be indistinguishable from that of vegetarians. No matter how much you wanted a steak, or some barbecued ribs, you would still look just like a vegetarian at the checkout counter.

    On your analysis, yes — that would make you a vegetarian, because vegetarianism is defined by what you eat, regardless of the reasons for it. On my analysis, it would make you a frustrated omnivore — and the difference would become obvious the day pork chops showed up at the grocery store. My analysis correctly predicts how behavior will change when context changes. Yours does not.

    But your analogy adds very little useful to the discussion about party alignment.

    In a football fan who roots for the Dallas Cowboys and Alabama Crimson Tide. There are aspects of the game I don’t like and, who knows, in a universe with different options, perhaps I’d watch a different sport. Or, had I started liking football when we were living in Missouri rather than when we moved back to Texas, perhaps I’d root for the Kansas City Chiefs. But . . . that really has nothing to do with my actual preferences or behavior.

    Moving on from the analogy, “Independent” really tells me nothing interesting other than that I don’t like either party. But one could be an “Independent” because one is an anarcho-socialist for sees the Democrats as tools of the capitalist system or because one is a Fascist who sees even Donald Trump is too soft on non-Christian minorities. It’s a “None of the Above” category.

    But “Lean-Democrat” and “Lean-Republican” tell us something useful! They indicate how one is likely to behave at the polls and allow us to predict election outcomes. Furthermore, as the issue preference polls tell us, “leaners” tend to be remarkably like the full-on partisans in their preferences.

    You’re certainly right that putting 330 million people into boxes with two choices doesn’t tell us much about their individual preferences. But, it turns out, we’ve effectively had a two-party since the earliest days of the Republic. Knowing how the public sees these parties tells us something useful.

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  39. Robert Winn says:

    @Modulo Myself: I don’t like the two-party system. I decided that when I was in high school and registered independent the first time I ever voted. My belief is the same as what George Washington stated in 1796: Political parties are self-created societies that destroy the freedom of the people, and all Americans have a duty to discourage political parties.
    So when we look at it from that perspective, political parties and their dishonest politicians and voters are unnecessary in governments that hold elections, whereas, independent voters are necessary because they are actually capable of thinking.

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  40. Perhaps part of the problem is that the media thinks that “independents” are supposed to be “moderates” or “centrists”?

    If you see yourself as someone who could vote Democrat, Green or Socialist, or as someone who could vote Republican, Constitution or Libertarian, you are “independent” but will have positions similar to the tipical Democrat or Republican

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  41. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    The analysis may be correct, but it has no application to real life voting patterns either because 1) no “pork chop” is ever on the ballot, or 2) the need to “win” is so strong that the “pork chop” is rejected even if it shows up because it’s not a “vegetable.” (And there may be other alternatives that the binary nature of the question fails to reveal.)

    Now it is possible that Trump=”pork chop,” but that would mean that “pork chop”=rat poison, and that just sends the analogy completely off the rails.

    The net effect may well be that you only see “non-vegetarians” (i.e. independents) by looking for the people who “don’t shop at all,” which would reinforce the assertion of the article in question.

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  42. Robert Winn says:

    @Kylopod: I am an ignoramus because I voted for an independent instead of Clinton or Trump?
    Political parties never vary in what they do. What did political parties do in the United States?
    They classified independent voters as sub-human and ineligible to participate in American government, the same way the Nazi Party classified Jews or the Communist Party classified people who had property.
    Thomas Jefferson’s Republican-Democrat Party quickly overcame any opposition to its tyranny, gained control of the judicial branch of government, and enforced slavery for the next sixty years.
    The Nazi Party did the same thing in Germany. So you are telling me that the German people “needed” the Nazi Party?
    I don’t like it when you call me an ignoramus. Learn to be a little more respectful.
    As for John Adams, he never joined a political party and spoke against political parties until the day he died. You history revisionists have him as the head of a political party.

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  43. James Joyner says:

    @Miguel Madeira:

    Perhaps part of the problem is that the media thinks that “independents” are supposed to be “moderates” or “centrists”?

    Yes. “Independent” should really be called “Other.” Many self-identified “Independents” are moderates who don’t identify with either party because they’re seen as too extreme. But many are people like Bernie Sanders, who are outside the “normal” bounds of American politics and see both parties as too centrist.

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  44. Teve says:

    @Robert Winn:

    So when we look at it from that perspective, political parties and their dishonest politicians and voters are unnecessary in governments that hold elections, whereas, independent voters are necessary because they are actually capable of thinking.

    and my, you’re so humble too! I’m so glad we have objective, independent thinkers like you around to protect society from poor nitwit Democrats like myself!

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  45. Robert Winn says:

    @Teve: You Democrats already started one Civil War and are trying to start another. Do not suppose that I will ever have any sympathy for Democrats. Republicans are a weak party that started out as anti-slavery. They are now more like Mussolini’s Fascist Party, which was the MIGA Party of Italy. Make Italy great again, we are returning to the glory of the Roman empire.
    Democrats are more like the Nazi Party of Germany or the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Democrats, Nazis, and Communists all went for judicial control, which still manifests itself in a Special Prosecutor who is more powerful than the President. Thomas Jefferson started that by refusing to deliver judicial appointments John Adams had made, resulting in a Supreme Court decision that enabled Jefferson’s party to enforce slavery in the United States for the next sixty years. So now we are told that only Democrats can discern what the Constitution really means. Freedom is the ability to accomplish the homicides of 60,000,000 American children by abortion according to the Democratic Party. The Nazis were amateurs compared to the Democrats. There were only 60,000,000 total deaths caused by the Second World War, and a lot of those were caused by the Japanese.

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  46. Kylopod says:

    @Robert Winn:

    I am an ignoramus because I voted for an independent instead of Clinton or Trump?

    I didn’t say that. What I said was that to describe political parties as inherently an anathema to freedom is to be an ignoramus, because literally the only free societies in the world today have parties. Can you name me one that doesn’t?

    They classified independent voters as sub-human and ineligible to participate in American government, the same way the Nazi Party classified Jews or the Communist Party classified people who had property.

    Last I knew, independent voters weren’t being placed in gulags or concentration camps. It doesn’t help your argument to engage in offensive hyperbole like that.

    Thomas Jefferson’s Republican-Democrat Party quickly overcame any opposition to its tyranny, gained control of the judicial branch of government, and enforced slavery for the next sixty years.

    And it was the creation of a new party, the Republican Party, that fostered the end of slavery.

    The Nazi Party did the same thing in Germany. So you are telling me that the German people “needed” the Nazi Party.

    Nazi Germany was a one-party state, which I already made clear I don’t favor. As I wrote, “There literally has never been a functioning democracy without [parties], and the only countries that lack them or have only a single party are authoritarian.”

    As for John Adams, he never joined a political party and spoke against political parties until the day he died.

    That isn’t correct. Unlike his predecessor Washington, he was a self-professed member of the Federalist Party. Here’s what he wrote in an 1801 letter:

    “We federalists are much in the situation of the party of Bolingbroke and Harley, after the treaty of Utrecht, completely and totally routed and defeated. We are not yet attainted by act of Congress, and, I hope, shall not fly out into rebellion. No party, that ever existed, knew itself so little, or so vainly overrated its own influence and popularity, as ours.”

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  47. Andy says:

    @James Joyner:

    What I meant is that the polling doesn’t detect when people switch, as you did. They are all aggregate numbers and you’ve simply moved from one aggregate group to another. You were in one group before, now you are in another and if the GoP and Democrats change, you’ve indicated you’ll switch back. It seems to me, by definition, you are an independent.

    Or let me put it this way – where in the poll does Pew detect the Obama-Trump voters? It doesn’t and it can’t because this is a snapshot of aggregate data, unable to track changes in the underlying cohorts except in terms of large demographic groups. The Democratic leaners one year are not exactly the same leaners in another year, as your own example shows. Hence the problem of relying too much on aggregate data.

    Anyway, my point is that one shouldn’t extrapolate too far with these polls. Contra what some here have suggested, they don’t tell us how many “independents” are reliable partisans – they tell us how many voted consistent with their partisan leanings only in the last election cycle.

    My contention is there are a sufficient number of actual independents and switchers who do NOT vote in a reliably partisan way – enough to be decisive in an election. In 2016 that group was the Obama-Trump voters.

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  48. Andy says:

    @James Joyner:

    Yes. “Independent” should really be called “Other.” Many self-identified “Independents” are moderates who don’t identify with either party because they’re seen as too extreme. But many are people like Bernie Sanders, who are outside the “normal” bounds of American politics and see both parties as too centrist.

    I think that’s right and it shows that the pejoratives used against independents are usually false – most aren’t fence-riders constantly seeking the median political position.

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  49. Teve says:

    @Teve: You Democrats already started one Civil War and are trying to start another. Do not suppose that I will ever have any sympathy for Democrats.

    ok, I’m done with this idiot. And my only time wasted was reading two comments!

    What’s that londo mollari quote you like so much Kathy? 😀

    #WINNING

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  50. @DrDaveT:

    You’re assuming your conclusion by saying that whether or not one is an independent voter is “directly linked to actual voting behavior”.

    I am looking at the data. There are two basic data point s here: what identifier was used by the voter and how they voted. It is directly linked to voting behavior.

    If I call myself a bisexual but only have sex with women am I really, for the purposes of studying sexual behavior, a heterosexual?

    You are asking for these data to tell you things that they can’t.

    Could one study why people identify as they do? Of course, but you can’t get there from these data.

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  51. James Joyner says:

    @Robert Winn:

    As for John Adams, he never joined a political party and spoke against political parties until the day he died

    His political career predated popular election for President (albeit indirectly) and Senate. Still, he ran as the nominee of the Federalist Party and in opposition to Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party. He may not have liked parties but he adapted to the political reality of his day—which was over 200 years ago, now.

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  52. A general comment that addresses several folks above: yes, as anyone who has read my posts here should know: I would prefer a two party system multi-party.* I would support any number of reforms that would help cultivate such an outcome.

    But this poll and post are about prevailing conditions and actual behaviors.

    I would also note, as I did in the OP—the data in the graph do not include third party preferences, which is a problem.

    *Edited to reflect what I thought I wrote, not what I actually wrote.

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  53. Anothe General comment: yes, we could study to find out why people identify as “independent” (and, for that matter, why they identify as R or D). That is a different question.

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  54. One last general comment: what these data tell us is that the large group that identifies as “independent” is not, as is often argued by politicians, pundits, and others some group that is ripe for molding into a third party.

    They simply are not some vast middle that might be wooed to one side or another if just the right candidate was selected. Instead, they are pretty solidly linked to one party or the other.

    And, of course the structural conditions of the system keep voters operating in a duopoly. But those are the conditions being studied.

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  55. @Andy:

    If that person’s choices are the entire Ben and Jerry’s catalog, then you could credibly claim to know that person’s actual preference.

    Sure. But the analogy in question is analyzing actual behavior in a market with only two basic choices. This is rather the point.

    The poll is not about how one would behave under different conditions. It is about actual behavior under a known set of parameters.

    I don’t understand why people want to argue about hypotheticals here.

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  56. @DrDaveT:

    US politics, at the moment, offers vanilla and earwax as the only flavors on the menu. Reliably buying vanilla in that situation doesn’t make me a vanilla-lover.

    Studying what people want in the abstract is a legitimate activity. Trying to figure out why they identify as they do is a legitimate activity.

    But, studying their behavior under real conditions is also a legitimate activity.

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  57. @Robert Winn:

    I would point out that this is a dangerous course for political parties. Their two little shrinking major parties are both at 28% of the voters, while independent voters continue to increase in numbers. If present trends continue, there will soon be more independent voters than all political party members combined.

    Thank you for this, as it is a living example of a key point that I am making: you are making the error that assumes that these “independent” identifier means actual idependence from the parties and that they could break off. But these data show that this is not the case. Not only do leaners, in the aggregate, vote consistently with partisan but they also, in the aggregate, hold views similar to partisans.

    There is no38% of the electorate who will
    break off from the Ds and Rs and go their own way. Not under current structural and institutional conditions.

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  58. If “independents” were distinct from partisans we would see that that group would have some internal deviations from partisans. Instead we see three groups: two types of leaners, who have more on common with partisans than they do with each other and t 9% true independent core.

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  59. I would note that there is a difference between public opinion and behavior in the aggregate as opposed to one’s own views and preferences.

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  60. Kylopod says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    If I call myself a bisexual but only have sex with women am I really, for the purposes of studying sexual behavior, a heterosexual?

    I’m mostly in agreement with you in this debate, but I don’t think that’s a good analogy. Sexual orientation is in fact not defined by behavior, and yes, it’s possible to be bisexual (or gay for that matter) and to have only been in relationships with members of the opposite sex.

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  61. A thing that I noticed now – the Democratic-leaning independent tend to be more “libertarian” than the Democrats, both in issue were this is the centrist position (like “small government”) or the radical position (like immigration) – the only exception that I see is tariffs.

    Put probably this is not significant.

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  62. @Kylopod: a fair point-I am trying to find an analogy that will break through. But all I am trying to point out is that there are any number of reasons why someone might self-identify one way or another but that if I am studying behavior then the self-ID isn’t the main issue, the behavior is.

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  63. Mikey says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    if I am studying behavior then the self-ID isn’t the main issue, the behavior is

    As the saying goes, “what you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say.”

    Or, in Gumpian terms, “stupid is as stupid does.”

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  64. Kathy says:

    @Teve:

    What’s that londo mollari quote you like so much Kathy?

    “Ah! Arrogance and stupidity all in the same package. How efficient of you!”

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  65. Robert Winn says:

    @Kylopod: You say that there has never been a government that was not controlled by political parties. I can name one that was not for 24 years, the United States government. There were no organized political parties in United States government until the election of 1800. Hamilton was totally indignant when Jefferson accused him of starting a political party, and that happened during John Adams’ administration. Hamilton’s followers never were much of a party. They patterned themselves after the English Whigs and were more into political and financial philosophies than being a party. A true political party did not exist in America until Madison and Jefferson hit on the idea of caucuses, use of elected government officials in the extra-legal function of party organization. Before that time, all American politicians were saying what Washington had said, Parties should not be started. Your quote from Adams shows his attitude toward parties. He did not like them and did not believe in them, and if you want to get technical, he lost the election of 1800 because Hamilton told his Federalist followers to vote for Charles Cotesworth Pinckney in hopes of getting the southern states. Adams knew the country had taken a wrong direction.
    We independent voters are certainly grateful to Democrats that we have not been placed in gulags or concentration camps yet, but what bothers us is that we have lost the right to vote and to be candidates for office.
    With regard to Republicans overthrowing slavery, it was going to happen with or without the Republicans. The English had abolished slavery in the British empire in 1834 by a vote of Parliament, which prompted Andrew Jackson and Martin van Buren to re-organize the Republican-Democrats into the modern Democratic Party to protect slavery in the United States. Now I know this might seem difficult to believe, but what the English did was a better way to end slavery than what the United States did.
    So let us get to what is wrong with the United States government today. It dates back to English government, something that happened during the reign of James I, who was an unpopular king who did not like Parliament. So James I did something that ended up starting a Civil War. He started appointing judges and gave them the specific task of “striking down” acts of Parliament that he did not like. This resulted in his son Charles I taking it a step further and declaring war on Parliament. After Charles I lost the war and was beheaded, Parliament abolished the office of king and appointed Oliver Cromwell as head of state with the title of Lord Protector. But Parliament did not have a clue about how to replace a Lord Protector, so when Cromwell died, they went to Europe and persuaded Charles, the son of Charles I, to return to England and become king. Charles II was the English king who started the two party system by appointing members of the Tory faction in Parliament that believed in divine right of kings to be members of his cabinet. When the opposing Whig faction backed the overthrow of the next king, resulting in the Glorious Revolution of William and Mary against James II, something took place that enabled England to outlaw the slave trade in 1807 and to abolish slavery in 1834. William and Mary stopped all interference by English courts with acts of Parliament.
    In the United States, events took a different course. The Constitution established a judicial branch that was to be the weakest branch of government, its parameters clearly defined. But when the Republican-Democrats took over the government in 1800, Jefferson refused to deliver judicial appointments that Adams had made during his administration, calling these appointments “midnight judges”. One of the appointees sued in the Supreme Court to receive his appointment. The Supreme Court ruled that it was “striking down” the act of Congress that had advised Adams to make the appointments, thus declaring the judicial branch to be the predominant branch of government, enabling the Republican-Democrats, later renamed the Democrats, to enforce slavery for the next sixty years. There have been exactly two challenges to this judicial dictatorship, both of which put the judicial branch back in its proper place. The first was when Abraham Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation, nullifying the Dred Scott decision in Confederate states, and the second was when Lincoln was able to get the Thirteenth Amendment passed by Congress, nullifying the Dred Scott decision in all states and abolishing slavery. After Lincoln was assassinated, the Supreme Court was re-enshrined as a judicial dictatorship and has remained that way to the present day.
    Congress has the power to regulate the courts, not the other way around, but has only done so once. The Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order.

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  66. Teve says:

    @Kathy: 😀

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  67. MarkedMan says:

    I’m trying to figure out what the argument is here, since it seems to me that both “sides” are non-exclusive.

    Steven (et al) says the data shows that people who call themselves independent don’t often actually shift parties, but mostly behave as if they were partisans. That’s the data and it is not unique to this study, so I think that’s pretty clear.

    The “other side” says, that may be, but there is a real reason why people call themselves independent and don’t publicly align themselves with their usual party. And that given a real viable 3rd party candidate (and not, for example, one that sticks his tongue out during an entire interview) these self declared independents would be the first ones to jump. This is just a theory but it doesn’t contradict what Dr. Taylor is saying.

    One other thing that jumps out form the data: It’s a waste of time for anyone to court the 7% of “true” independents. They are unlikely to vote and when they do they will probably vote on misinformation or whether or not they liked the candidates shoes.

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  68. @Robert Winn:

    First, the Founders were largely in denial about the proto-parties they were already in

    Second, you are trying to make a direct comparison on time period that are not directly comparable.

    Every representative democracy on Earth has a party system.

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  69. wr says:

    @Robert Winn: “The Nazis were amateurs compared to the Democrats. ”

    I would never call you an ignoramus.

    Clearly you’re a nutcase. Very different things.

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  70. Andy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Sure. But the analogy in question is analyzing actual behavior in a market with only two basic choices. This is rather the point.

    Yes, but you’re reading to much into it. The data show preferences and voting pattern for one election cycle. You’ve consistently extrapolated that to assume that means independents are reliable partisans and used analogies to buttress that contention. The data do not actually show the consistency you’re alleging.

    For example:

    If I call myself a bisexual but only have sex with women am I really, for the purposes of studying sexual behavior, a heterosexual?

    To continue this analogy, the poll does not actually tell us that you only have sex with women, it only tells us who you had sex with most recently. The poll doesn’t ask about your whole sexual history, only the most recent event. Assuming that are a heterosexual based on a single data point is a logical mistake.

    That’s why I said these polls are limited snapshots. We have no idea what the actual total voting history of respondents is. You can’t reasonably make any data-based claims on their voting history much less assert that a vote in a single election cycle means these independents are actually reliable partisans.

    And we have many examples where this is the case – James and the Obama-Trump voters being two I’ve mentioned.

    Undoubtedly, as I’ve indicated, there are independents who are reliable partisans, but these polls do not tell us who they are or how many there are compared to actual independents.

    Pew simply does not ask the question about voting history. In their guide on their sources and methods they say this:

    It is, of course, possible to ask survey respondents about voting in past elections. But pollsters recognize that memories about events that occurred two or four years ago (or longer) are potentially faulty, especially for respondents who are not especially interested in politics.

    Until you know how people voted in previous elections (to include, I would argue, the reasons for their vote), you can’t claim to know about the reliability of their voting patterns over time.

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  71. Kylopod says:

    @Robert Winn:

    You say that there has never been a government that was not controlled by political parties.

    This is the third time you have quoted me as saying something that I simply did not say, when what I did say was absolutely clear and unambiguous. Here is what I said (and it’s the second time I’m re-quoting it): “There literally has never been a functioning democracy without [parties], and the only countries that lack them or have only a single party are authoritarian.”

    How did you possibly manage to interpret me as saying “there has never been a government that was not controlled by political parties”? You really need to work on your reading comprehension.

    I can name one that was not for 24 years, the United States government.

    The US government was in an experimental phase for most of that period. For the first 12 years it was under the Articles of Confederation, then after that proved unworkable the Constitution was ratified–and even there it required a lot of tinkering (such as the aforementioned 12th Amendment). The Founders did not want or anticipate parties, but parties ended up emerging very quickly anyway. You cannot seriously consider that a true example of a functioning democratic system without parties. Indeed, given that the country still had slavery and the franchise was only available to land-owning white males, there’s a strong case for saying the US back then wasn’t a democracy in the modern sense at all.

    Once again, I ask you: name me one modern free, democratic country today that doesn’t have political parties.

    Your quote from Adams shows his attitude toward parties. He did not like them and did not believe in them

    That’s not what the quote said. He was lamenting the fact that the Federalists had been so thoroughly crushed electorally. There is nothing in that quote suggesting that he didn’t believe in parties, and contrary to your assertion, he was clearly identifying as a member of the Federalist Party.

    We independent voters are certainly grateful to Democrats that we have not been placed in gulags or concentration camps yet, but what bothers us is that we have lost the right to vote and to be candidates for office.

    What are you talking about? Millions of registered independents vote in every election. And in case you aren’t aware, there have been four independents elected to the Senate in the past two decades, two of whom are currently serving.

    With regard to Republicans overthrowing slavery, it was going to happen with or without the Republicans.

    You have no proof of that. While the system of Whigs vs. Democrats was breaking down and various new parties were popping up, there was no sign of a rise in independents.

    The English had abolished slavery in the British empire in 1834 by a vote of Parliament

    It was Britain’s Whigs who ran the government at the time. That’s a curious example to use to prove the uselessness of parties.

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  72. Andy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    To sum up, here are my arguments:

    – Claims that these poll data prove that independents are reliable partisan voters are not true. See my most recent response to Dr. Taylor.

    – A binary choice system has effects on political choice because of limited options. The effects become pernicious as the choices become less representative of the actual views of the population. Hence why so many must use a “lesser of evils” rationale to vote strategically. Hence why so many consider themselves to be “independents.”

    To put it crudely, I think it’s bizarre to give someone a choice only between a “turd burger” and a “sh!t sandwich” and then confidently declare after the fact that the chooser must love whichever one they picked because they picked it. It’s a tautology.

    Eventually, we may get to a point where one party exclusively runs right-wing nationalists and the other party left-wing socialists. And I suspect that, even then, there will be those who say that voters who are forced into this unpalatable binary choice, by the simple act of having to vote for one or the other, are somehow demonstrating their actual political preferences through their vote instead of their stated preferences, which aren’t represented on the ballot.

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  73. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I’m confused about something. You wrote

    I would prefer a two party system.

    Don’t we already have this, or do you mean a system where all participants must register as either “a” or “b”–an enforced binary system, if you will?

    I ask because we already have a two-party system. Our particular two-party system currently seems to serve to alienate a large segment of the electorate.

    How would going to another, more exclusively two-party system address this shortcoming? I’m not seeing it.

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  74. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    I am an ignoramus because I voted for an independent instead of Clinton or Trump?

    No. While I still voted, I only voted for a major party candidate for President one time. If you believe that by voting for an independent candidate you are sending a viable message to either party that will result in policy shifts that would make for more palatable choices for others of your political beliefs, you may be naive, though, as part of the reason that “independents” don’t create any political sway is because true independents are only 7% of the whole.

    Additionally according to the article at least, they tend to be less likely to vote and are probably not monolithic in any reasonable sense of the term as it applies here. It’s possible that your wisest choice would be to step out of the race to the bottom that American politics has become, but you would need to decide what your goals are. My sense of things is that America is not likely to elect anyone who shares my views and goals in any meaningful way, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

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  75. MarkedMan says:

    @Andy:

    then confidently declare after the fact that the chooser must love whichever one they picked because they picked it.

    If Steven had that, or anything like that, I would disagree with him. But he didn’t.

    You have a legitimate point. The survey does not look at past voting so it is possible that the self declared independents are more volatile than the outright partisans. In fact, I think that’s likely.

    But we are not looking at just one data point here. Year after her the results are the same. That gives pretty strong evidence that even if they are more of them that are volatile their numbers are still small and therefore their effect is low.

    Finally, you may very well be right that if a viable third party candidate started polling in the 10-20% range they might be more likely than partisans to make the switch. But at the presidential level that has only happened twice in my lifetime, with Anderson and Perot. But the independents ended up mostly leaving them in the actual vote, although Perot did manage to get 19%. But that’s the best in my entire lifetime. In fact I think it’s the best in the last century. So thinking about what leaders would do if a “viable” independent candidate arose is as useful as me thinking about what I would do if I was handsome and could sing, dance and act.

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  76. Robert Winn says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I already explained what is going on. Independents are classified by both major parties as sub-human, not eligible to vote or to be candidates for office. They have laws passed at state level to exclude independent voters from voting in primary elections they are forced to pay for and are prevented from being candidates for office by nomination petition signature requirements that only eccentric billionaires like Michael Bloomberg can meet. Independent voters have replaced blacks as the slaves in the American political system. If an independent takes these unconstitutional state laws to federal court, they are told, That is the way it has always been. Last year, for the first time in United States history, a federal court ruled in favor of an independent candidate, saying that a nomination petition signature requirement of 150,000 signatures in Nebraska was “excessive”. Well, duh.

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  77. Andy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    But we are not looking at just one data point here. Year after her the results are the same.

    Year after year it shows that votes for that election correlate with the currently surveyed partisan leaning of those surveyed. That is really all. I would be surprised if this wouldn’t be the case, because who would expect a significant number of declared leaners to vote for the other party in a binary choice election?

    But, just like we don’t know the voting history described earlier, we also don’t know if leaners switch their leanings. Keep in mind that the cohorts aren’t the same from year-to-year in the surveys. They are statistical groups. We don’t know how many people were, for example, Democratic leaners in 2012 who voted for Obama and then became Republican leaners in 2016 who voted for Trump.

    It would be great if Pew or Gallup could track a group of voters over time – similar to how some medical and sociological studies work. It’s a tall order – getting a somewhat representative sample group that is willing to be tracked over decades, but it might be the best way to settle some of these questions.

    Finally, you may very well be right that if a viable third party candidate started polling in the 10-20% range they might be more likely than partisans to make the switch.

    I may have written something like that at one time in the past, but not in this thread and, at present, I don’t believe such a third-party run is possible. The existing parties are too entrenched, “too big to fail” as is the media apparatus that supports them.

    I think it’s more likely that factions will try to take control of the existing parties (as Trump did and, arguably, the tea-party movement before that) rather than form new ones. And given the levels of motivation and organization required, I think things will need to get a lot worse before an independent faction could attempt that.

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  78. Robert Winn says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: The first time I voted independent was the first time I voted, Nixon v. McGovern. I felt good because I voted for Francis W. McCormick. I remember a conversation I had with a lady just before the election. She asked, How could anyone vote for Nixon considering what he is accused of?
    My parents were both Republicans. I said, Nobody could be as stupid as they are saying he is. But on election day I did not vote for him. I have always felt good about voting for Francis W. McCormick.

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  79. Robert Winn says:

    @MarkedMan: There is not much chance of an independent winning if the only people allowed to run as independent candidates are eccentric billionaires like Ross Perot. Ross Perot was not an independent voter. He was a Republican. Michael Bloomberg was not an independent voter. He was a Republican who is now turning into a Democrat after being elected Mayor of New York as an independent candidate. Joe Lieberman is not an independent voter. He is a Democrat. Bernie Sanders is not an independent voter. He is a former Socialist Party member who ran as an independent candidate when the Socialist Party went defunct and now runs for President as a Democrat. Independent voters are not allowed to run for public office, just eccentric billionaires and political party mavericks. Back when I was in school, there were actual independent voters who were elected to the U.S. Congress because party candidates had angered the voters, and there were independent candidates on the ballot. These huge nomination petition signature requirements did not start until about the 1970’s, when party politicians started to notice the increase in numbers of independent voters.

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  80. MarkedMan says:

    @Andy:

    I think it’s more likely that factions will try to take control of the existing parties

    Our system is inherently conservative, small “c”, meaning slow to change, and part of that is that it takes at least a generation if not two to dramatically change the parties. It’s happened twice in my lifetime. Starting in 1964 the Democratic Party became the party of civil rights. Oddly enough, this was primarily caused by the Republican Party who decided that year to actively embrace the racist element in the US via the Southern Strategy. But it wasn’t until the 80’s that the change was complete, as witnessed by the fact that I. The 70’s Joe Biden (Joe Biden!) ran an anti- bussing campaign.

    The second major change is the Republicans becoming an exclusively reactionary party starting in the 80’s with Gingrich. By the time the Tea Party era rolled around the Party was completely incapable of being “for” anything, but instead won elections by a combination of government can’t do anything” reflexivity and a mixture of toxic socio-religious button pressing issues.

    If I had to make a guess, I would speculate that the Democrats would eventually take over all branches of government and then split into conservative, moderate and progressive factions, much like what is happening in California. The thing working against this is the disproportionate Senatorial weight of the failed Trump states.

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  81. Robert Winn says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: The only thing that will work to correct the system is elections where independent voters are allowed to run for office as independent candidates. People are waking up to the fact that the two-party system is a scam.

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  82. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    I wish people were waking up to the fact that the two-party system is a scam, but they’re not. And even if they were, the solutions they are offering are stuff like Instant Runoff–where the basic principle is you have to pick R or D–and National Popular Vote Combine.

    More importantly, while I allowed for your premise to address my point in context, I’m not sure that I would say that the two-party system is a scam as much as it is the parties themselves that have become corrupt. But even that seems to be with the blessing of the voters. Like I said, it’s currently a race to the bottom. Want better results? Need better candidates and, most importantly, better voters.

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  83. Andy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    How the nomination process actually works is something Dr. Taylor has written about extensively here in a series of excellent posts.

    A good example is Trump, who was initially opposed by the entire GoP establishment, but he won anyway. What does it mean when a party and its leadership cannot control who gets nominated? IMO, it means the parties are vessels and paths to power, ripe for the taking where the only thing that matters is primary votes. It didn’t matter what the GoP establishment thought, Trump got the primary votes and now owns the GoP.

    The Democrats have made themselves more vulnerable to this by defenestrating superdelegates along with some other changes to make their own nomination process more “democratic.” I think it’s inevitable that we’ll eventually see some kind of Trump-like outsider/insurgent come in and roll over a sclerotic Democratic elite, and take the reigns of the party.

    The problem with this in a two-party system should be obvious – you get situations where the public is given a choice between two candidates who represent only a tiny minority of the actual voting public. We saw this happen in the most recent Florida gubernatorial election.

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  84. Robert Winn says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Every democratic government on earth copied the United States government, which by the time any other government copied it was controlled by political parties. If the United States government had continued as it started, it would have been a good government, capable of solving the problems it faced. As it is we are left to discuss political party failures: Which World War was the best one, World War I or World War II? Was the Panic of 1837 a better economic failure than the economic failure of 2008? Would a Civil War today be as effective in solving the problems of America as the Civil War of 1860 was? On a scale of 1 to 10, where would the Korean War be ranked in terms of undeclared wars? Or just go to any of the posts in this discussion. Isn’t party controlled government wonderful? It gives us things to talk about.
    One thing party members do not want to talk about is free and open elections. How about having elections where independent voters are allowed to vote and be candidates for office?
    I can remember when there were independent candidates who were sometimes elected because it was not difficult to be an independent candidate. Just get a reasonable number of nomination petition signatures, and you could be on the ballot. I can remember when there were states like Tennessee where a person could run for office as an independent candidate with as few as 23 signatures. Not any more. So where is the political party member who wants to talk about free and open elections like the ones that used to exist in the United States?

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  85. An Interested Party says:

    I am an ignoramus because I voted for an independent instead of Clinton or Trump?

    Certainly not! But you are definitely an ignoramus for posting dumb shit like…

    You Democrats already started one Civil War and are trying to start another. Do not suppose that I will ever have any sympathy for Democrats. Republicans are a weak party that started out as anti-slavery. They are now more like Mussolini’s Fascist Party, which was the MIGA Party of Italy. Make Italy great again, we are returning to the glory of the Roman empire.
    Democrats are more like the Nazi Party of Germany or the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Democrats, Nazis, and Communists all went for judicial control, which still manifests itself in a Special Prosecutor who is more powerful than the President. Thomas Jefferson started that by refusing to deliver judicial appointments John Adams had made, resulting in a Supreme Court decision that enabled Jefferson’s party to enforce slavery in the United States for the next sixty years. So now we are told that only Democrats can discern what the Constitution really means. Freedom is the ability to accomplish the homicides of 60,000,000 American children by abortion according to the Democratic Party. The Nazis were amateurs compared to the Democrats. There were only 60,000,000 total deaths caused by the Second World War, and a lot of those were caused by the Japanese.

    Do you sit on street corners, aimlessly playing with your long, matted beard while talking to yourself?

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  86. Robert Winn says:

    @An Interested Party: I knew I was missing something. It was the long matted beard. Democrats are like the German army was when they invaded Russia. To them Russians were people with long matted beards who sat talking to themselves. Then a couple of years later, the Germans are retreating toward Berlin and the people with long matted beards are still talking to themselves, but they are also shooting German soldiers and raping German women. Then before too long, they are coming down the street where Adolf Hitler has his bunker. I think it is a mistake to make generalizations about people such as saying that they have long matted beards and talk to themselves. I think that generalizations like this are for the purpose of making the person who invents them feel superior to people who seem to disagree with their ideas.

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  87. Robert Winn says:

    @Kylopod: What has been accomplished since 1800 that compares with what was accomplished in the United States between 1776 and 1800? Americans had put together a government that appeared to have unlimited potential. Now they have a government that appears to be failing. What made the difference? I say it was political parties, which have done exactly what George Washington said would happen if the American people came to support political parties.

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  88. @Andy:

    The data show preferences and voting pattern for one election cycle.

    The data show a clear, stable pattern in the aggregate for decades.

    Yes, individual data points shift, but the aggregate behavior is clear.

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  89. @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I’m confused about something. You wrote

    I would prefer a two party system.

    You should be confused. Very, very confused, because I meant to say “I would prefer a multi-party system”–I must’ve had two parties on the brain (plus I was typing on my phone whilst riding in the car–not the best combo for accuracy.

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  90. @Robert Winn:

    I already explained what is going on. Independents are classified by both major parties as sub-human

    This absurd mantra, along with several other absurdities in your posts (e.g., the Nazi stuff) indicate that you are not to be taken seriously.

    Thanks for commenting, but I doubt that anything I could say in response to you would have any affect on you whatsoever.

    Cheers.

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  91. Robert Winn says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Oh, so party members are going to start letting independent voters vote in elections they pay for and to be candidates for office? Democrats and Republicans are such kind people.

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  92. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: As long as you weren’t typing on the phone while driving the car everything is fine. Thanks for the clarification.

    While I understand Mr. Wynn’s frustration, I was puzzled about the whole Rs & Ds not allowing independents to vote in “their” elections. Why would a true independent wish to vote on a slate of candidates that he or she is unlikely to find commonality with? (I’m thinking of primary elections here, if he lives in a state where one can’t vote as an independent in the General, he may have a Supreme Court hearing in his future should he seek it, but IANAL) If he DOES find commonality, simply register as a member of said party and drop that registration afterwards if moral purity requires it of him. A little extra work, but…

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  93. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Robert Winn:

    Americans had put together a government that appeared to have unlimited potential. Now they have a government that appears to be failing. What made the difference? I say it was political parties, [emphasis added]

    I would note that “now” could be replaced by “200 years later.” This could mean that the erosion that political parties caused was very slow acting and might even now be corrected (although I will admit that the will to do so seems absent).

    Or it could mean that you’re jumping to an unwarranted conclusion using a distant data point (and a potentially specious/unprovable claim–highlighted) for evidence.

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  94. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    If I call myself a bisexual but only have sex with women am I really, for the purposes of studying sexual behavior, a heterosexual?

    You’ve not demonstrated that any of these “bisexuals” only “have sex with women”. You’re basically saying that if 13% of bisexual men are in relationship with a woman and 11% are in a relationship with a man right now, and four years from now a potentially completed different 13% of bisexual men are in a relationship with a woman and a potentially completely different 11% are in a relationship with a man, then all bisexuals are really lying and are really straight or homosexual.

    And aside from this being a bullshit argument in the political science content, I’d also like to express, as an actual bisexual male, how outrageously offensive I found this analogy. You’ve somehow managed to engage in bisexual erasure and the bisexual as sex fiend slur in a single sentence.

    I’m not presently in a relationship at all. Does that mean I’ve really been asexual all along and was lying to my past partners (of both genders)?

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  95. Robert Winn says:

    @wr: So you are pro-abortion. That is all I call you. No reason to get all contentious about it and call people names. Most people in the United States are pro-abortion. I have always been pro-life.

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  96. Robert Winn says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I should probably explain how independent voters see this. A Republican spokesman once explained to me how party members see it. He said, Our political party is like a private club. You have no right to vote in our private club elections.
    If a private club is financed by public revenues, it is no longer a private club. That was the cause of the Revolutionary War. A political party in England was levying taxes on American colonists to pay for private club political party activities in England. The colonists called it taxation without representation. Sometimes private club political parties are successful in doing this. The Fascist Party, Nazi Party, and Communist Party are examples of private clubs that the taxpayers could not oppose.
    But there have also been good private clubs. The Mickey Mouse Club is an example of a good private club. What made the Mickey Mouse Club a good private club?
    They paid for their own private club elections.
    There is even one political party in the United States that pays for its own private club elections. That is the Libertarian Party.
    But the Democrats and Republicans are not good private clubs. Their private club elections are paid for from public revenues. So if you want to take my private money to pay for your private club elections, I want to vote in your private club elections. It is just that simple. If I had voted in the Democratic Primary, I would have voted against Hillary Clinton. If I had voted in the Republican Primary, I would have voted against Donald Trump. That is just the way I am. I do not try to vote the way other people vote.

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  97. @Stormy Dragon:

    I’d also like to express, as an actual bisexual male, how outrageously offensive I found this analogy. You’ve somehow managed to engage in bisexual erasure and the bisexual as sex fiend slur in a single sentence.

    That was not my intention, and I sincerely apologize. I will not even seek to further explain myself. but rather state it was a poor attempt in general.

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  98. Robert Winn says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: The government of England was slow acting, and it is the government American political parties were emulating. Charles II, king of England, invented the two-party system. He was trying to weaken Parliament. The fact that bad things happening slowly may be better than bad things happening quickly does not mean that bad things are good.
    I wrote a book about this which anyone can buy on Amazon books for a few dollars titled Independence (and I approved this message) by Robert Winn.
    As I mentioned in the book, the thing that will bring down the two-party system is public debt. A national debt is nothing new. What is new is the rate at which the debt is now increasing. So party members say, No big deal. We will just print more money.
    That does not work.
    The debt has to be paid. Now, the European way to resolve national debts is war. If party members stay in control and keep borrowing money, we will be in a war, possibly a Civil War. It would be much easier to pay the debt. But political parties are not going to do it.
    So either independent voters pay it, or political parties take us into another war.

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  99. MarkedMan says:

    @Robert Winn: I too am rabidly pro-life. I also happen to believe in a woman’s right to chose an abortion which, of course, has nothing to do with taking a life. The whole life-begins-at-conception canard is nonsense foisted upon the gullible by the Catholic hierarchy when they were in desperate need of an issue to distract from their child molesting scandals. It was subsequently picked by Evangelical leaders and other professional con-artists when they saw what a money maker it was.

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  100. Robert Winn says:

    @MarkedMan: Sorry to hear about the health problems. Hydrophobia is a serious disease. As far as my own beliefs concerning abortion are concerned, I tend to agree with early writings on the subject.
    Luke 2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea. unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
    5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
    I just never have had any inclination to kill any children.

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  101. MarkedMan says:

    @Robert Winn: Nor have I. Interestingly, I’ve also never adapted the strange and very recent idea that a fetus is the same thing as a child. How recent is this idea? Well, when Roe v Wade was first decided, the editor of the Southern Baptist newspaper wrote an editorial praising the decision.

    I’m also curious, if you are going to adapt this faddish idea, why stop at conception? The Bible clearly has things to say about male masturbation. Why don’t you consider pulling the pud to be murder? Sperm are just as alive as fertilized ova.

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  102. Mister Bluster says:

    The Bible was written by human beings. Human beings make mistakes.

    It Ain’t Necessarily So

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  103. Robert Winn says:

    @MarkedMan: Well, I think you are getting to the idea why all of these things are considered sin. The idea that a pregnant woman has a child in her womb is not as recent as you think. Look at the scripture from Luke 2 that I quoted. That makes it at least as old as 1611, when the King James version of the Bible was translated, more than 2000 years old if they translated correctly.
    But taking it further than that, the magi from the east saw the star and went to see the child. Even King Herod seemed to think it was a child because he had all the children under two years of age killed in the vicinity of Bethlehem. So why is it that you do not think it was a child?
    Isaiah lived in 700 B.C., and he thought it was going to be a child.
    Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
    So how is it that you get this being a recent idea? 700 B.C. is not very recent.

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  104. Robert Winn says:

    @Mister Bluster: Well, that is certainly true. Human beings do make mistakes. So do you think Isaiah was mistaken when he said, Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, etc.?
    The definitions of these words are really important. Maybe those people in 700 B.C. did not know what words really mean. I mean, they used words, but did they really know what they were saying?

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  105. Mister Bluster says:

    Not interested in your Bible quiz.

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  106. Kylopod says:

    @Andy:

    The Democrats have made themselves more vulnerable to this by defenestrating superdelegates along with some other changes to make their own nomination process more “democratic.” I think it’s inevitable that we’ll eventually see some kind of Trump-like outsider/insurgent come in and roll over a sclerotic Democratic elite, and take the reigns of the party.

    The problem with that hypothesis is that the Democratic primaries use proportional allocation which makes a Trump-like takeover of the party much less likely. What it does make more likely (especially after the crippling of superdelegates) is a contested convention–which is almost certainly what would have happened in 2016 if the GOP had used proportional allocation, given that Trump won less than 50% of the vote.

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  107. Robert Winn says:

    @Mister Bluster: I am not interested in your political party.

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  108. MarkedMan says:

    @Robert Winn: I realize your question was directed at Mr. Bluster but I’ll take a whack at it.

    I think it is truly amazing that the Torah (Old Testament) still exists and is read daily and often by millions. Just as I think the same about the Annals of Confucius or the Hindu Vedas. And insofar as these texts teach us about morality I think it is worth reading them, and thinking about what they might teach us. But all of them are ancient and they have been translated many times and even more importantly were written in a different society. Trying to interpret a few words here and there as having particular relevance to some discussion we are having today is silly and childish. As I said, the Old Testament speaks much more clearly on things such as male masturbation (those who engage in it deserve death), eating barbecue (if it’s pork you should die) or wearing a poly-cotton blend (again, death). I assume you choose to ignore those very clear parts of the text, yet invest a great deal of your self righteous feelings on a few words scattered here and there that could possibly be interpreted in support of the latest religious fad (“life begins at conception”).

    If an all powerful God (or Gods) wanted us to know that one or more of these texts were his (or hers or their) absolute words, that God could easily make that undeniably clear to all of us. Instead this idea is passed down from preacher to preacher or priest to priest, changing and varying with every transmission. You can chose to believe God is talking to you through these old stories in a literal way, but you shouldn’t get to impose that on the rest of us.

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  109. Robert Winn says:

    @MarkedMan: But you do believe you should get to impose your political party on me. So why do you think you should get to impose your political party on me?

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  110. MarkedMan says:

    @Robert Winn:

    But you do believe you should get to impose your political party on me

    No. I do not. Why do you say that?

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  111. Mister Bluster says:

    I do not belong to any political party.
    Clearly you don’t know what you are talking about.

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  112. Robert Winn says:

    @MarkedMan: Well, my first clue was when I was not allowed to vote. My second clue was when I could not run for public office. But of course you would say, But you have plenty to eat and a place to sleep, what are you complaining about? You should be thankful to political parties for what you have.
    But I am not. I would rather be able to vote and to be a candidate for office.

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  113. Robert Winn says:

    @Mister Bluster: Well, these party members say you do have a party because you lean toward one party or the other. You are not a true independent voter like I am. As far as I know there have only been three, George Washington, John Adams, and me. Everyone else who registered independent has believed that political parties are capable of providing good government.

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  114. MarkedMan says:

    @Robert Winn: Ah. So you are a lunatic. Bye.

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  115. Mister Bluster says:

    …George Washington, John Adams, and me.

    Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

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  116. Robert Winn says:

    @MarkedMan: So only party members are not lunatics, right?

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  117. Robert Winn says:

    @Mister Bluster: Well, show me someone else who does not believe that political parties provide good government.

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  118. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Robert Winn:

    Why argue over oblique references when the bible addresses the abortion question specifically in Exodus 20:21 “If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.”

    That’s very clearly not the Biblical punishment for a murder, it’s the punishment for a minor property crime.

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  119. Robert Winn says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Well, all party members want to be judges. That is what they try to do their entire lives. I don’t judge the Law of Moses, mostly because Jesus Christ said that the Law of Moses was fulfilled when he was born. Maybe you would want to discuss your idea with an Orthodox Jew. They study the Law of Moses a lot more than I do.
    We live under the Law of Christ now, which only has two commandments.
    What I have noticed is that political party members are very judgmental about anyone who says that an unborn child is their neighbor. Another thing that gets political party members riled up is saying that unborn children were created in the image of God.

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  120. Mister Bluster says:

    We live under the Law of Christ now…

    Who’s we Hambone?

    This Constitution*, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the Supreme Law of the Land
    United States Constitution
    Article VI

    *Not your Holy Book.

    This is the United States of America. I do not have to worship your god.

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  121. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Robert Winn: “I should probably explain how independent voters see this.”

    DON’T EVER PRESUME TO TELL ME HOW I SEE ANYTHING!

    Also, unless you have been named the spokesperson for independent voters, you’ve overstepped both your place and you intelligence level in the above statement. You simply don’t know how “independent voters see this;” you presume that others share your mindset and so can seize authority to speak on their behalf. You can’t and shouldn’t.

    ETA: “I wrote a book about this which anyone can buy on Amazon books for a few dollars titled Independence (and I approved this message) by Robert Winn.”
    You’ve engaged in a lot of blather to have this whole exchange redound to a mediocre pitch for me to buy your book. You should have opened with that pitch. What you’ve said will not help SELL your book, but that’s not my problem.

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  122. Robert Winn says:

    @Mister Bluster: We means everyone on this earth. The Law of Christ has two commandments: 1. Love the Lord thy God. 2. Love thy neighbor as thyself.
    No one is forced to obey these laws, but those who do obey them do not have the trouble with lesser laws that people who do not obey them have.
    So now you tell me that you are not going to obey the Law of Christ. That is something for you to decide. That means you will not get the benefits that people who obey this law get. You will get the rewards, good or bad, that result from the laws you do recognize as existing. So you say you have a better way than the Law of Christ. I do not believe you do, but that would be something for you to learn from your own experience.
    Laws exist for the protection of people who break laws.

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  123. Robert Winn says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: We certainly have some angry political party members today. The majority of independent voters are like me. They would like to be able to vote and to be candidates for political office if they choose to do that. At one time, even in my lifetime, there were independent voters who were candidates for office. They usually did not get many votes and were seldom elected, but they could appear on the ballot. That was before the 1970’s when party politicians in any states that began to have significant numbers of independent voters began to pass laws to keep them off from the ballot. So now the only independent candidates you see are people with lots of money who can pay petition circulators to get the huge signature requirements that now exist.
    I was not really trying to sell the book. I was just telling you it was available in case you wanted to learn something about independent voters on your own. If you don’t want to read the book, keep reading the party propaganda you like to read.

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  124. Mister Bluster says:

    You are not a true independent voter like I am. As far as I know there have only been three, George Washington, John Adams, and me.

    The majority of independent voters are like me.

    All two of them according to you.

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  125. Robert Winn says:

    @Mister Bluster: Yes, all two of them. But there is an organization of socialist independent voters called the Independent Voters Network who are also aware of the unconstitutional election laws that independent voters face. When I talk to people in the Independent Voters Network, I discuss how unfair Democrats and Republicans are. The Independent Voters Network would like to turn independent voters into another political party. If they were successful, there would no longer be a place for the Democratic Party. But it cannot be done. The Democrats will remain the source of socialist political power in American government. Independent voters will remain independent voters.
    So what is going to happen?
    It appears that Republicans are going to decide. Don’t blame me. I did not vote for Trump. When I wrote my book in 2008, I said that political parties were incapable of providing good government.
    You want to blame me for your troubles? Don’t even try. All you would have to do to get rid of your troubles is allow independent voters to exercise their rights as guaranteed by the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
    So I will stand by and watch the Democratic Party destroy itself. I say, Good riddance. It was a pro-slavery party when it began, it is still a pro-slavery party today, and the American people do not really want a pro-slavery party. They are going to support Trump’s pro-greed party.
    Which is worse, greed or slavery? They are both bad, but slavery is probably the worst of the two.
    We will take things one at a time. Slavery first.

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