Feature

The rise of the independent voter

The new mainstream in American politics is the independent voter, said John P. Avlon<strong> </strong>in<strong> </strong><em>The Wall Street Journal.</em>

John P. Avlon The Wall Street Journal

The new mainstream in American politics isn’t Democratic or Republican, said John P. Avlon. It’s the independent voter. Independents now make up about 40 percent of the electorate, and the millions of registered independents in key states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida will probably decide this election. In six states, independents already outnumber Republicans and Democrats. Why have independents become so numerous? As the two major parties became more polarized, “centrist voters felt politically homeless,” alienated from both big-government liberalism and intrusive social conservatism. Independents do not fit in the traditional boxes: They are fiscal conservatives who favor a strong national defense, low taxes, and balanced budgets, but who are, at the same time, socially progressive. They support same-sex civil unions, but not gay marriage; back legal abortion in most—but not all—cases; and are disgusted by Washington’s partisan gridlock. In other words, they’re pragmatists, not ideologues. “The next president can unite the country even in difficult times if he understands this truth: Americans are not deeply divided—our political parties are—and the independent voter is a direct reaction to this disconnect.”

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