Have you ever voted
for the better of two evils? Both
candidates in an election didn’t really connect with you. Regardless of party, candidates are all
trying to run “middle of the road”. The
middle of the road may seem like it appeals to all but it doesn’t. During elections, especially presidential,
campaigners focus upon the swing voters.
Those voters that will vote for the issues, not the party. Research from Michigan State University found these voters have declined from 15% in
the 1960’s to 5% today. At the same
time Independent voters have risen. The
only difference between a swing and an Independent voter to campaigners is
none. Campaigners and poll watchers
monitor these voters the same since they obscure party affiliation
stability. If Americans truly feel they don’t have a home
in one of the party, what is our future at the polls?
An Independent History
A little history on
Independent votes opens the doors for future ramifications. American analysts
were shocked when Jill Stein took 1% of the vote
in the presidential election. Stories circulated, and Twitter got hateful for
that tiny margin. No one really brought
up Gary Johnson’s 3% vote total.
What all of the stories and 140 character messages didn’t include or conclude
is that Independent voters have been rising.
According to Gallups party
affiliation trend analysis, an average of 40% of voters have remained
Independent since 2004. These voters are tipping the scales of elections. Some blame them on Clinton’s loss yet the DNC
and RNC knew they were coming. Campaigns
can no longer focus on Super voters, those voters that vote party line in every
or nearly every election. The rise of
the rest is making American history.
Independent Voters Changing America A Vote At A Time
are overturning local elections. The December 2017 election battle between Roy
Moore and Doug Jones in Alabama seemed to be between the Democrats and Republicans. Jones landed the win but the data tells a
different story. Every news station from
CNN to FOX tried to blame the 1.7%
of write-in votes on Republicans telling voters not to vote for Moore. That’s not the whole story. Voters are consistently voting write-in as Independents. Even President
Trump acknowledged the write-ins in his congratulatory message to Jones.
In 2015 one of the
most nationally powerful politicians, Mayor
Rahm Emmanuel, was almost unseated by Independent Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. Even though Chuy has a long political career
in Chicago, he turned an election upside down.
Chicago hadn’t seen a mayoral run-off in nearly 30 years. Seventeen of the 50 wards were also in
run-offs with Independents winning several seats, namely Carlos Rosa in 35.
Rosa is one of the youngest Alderman and part of the Progressive party of
Chicago. During the general election in
2015 few people mentioned the nearly 30% of the vote taken by another
Independent named, Peter John DeMay in the 12th Ward. Though DeMay was removed from the ballot for
illegal signatures, voters still used their voice with write-ins. The Chicago Machine is being dealt a heavy
blow as Chuy Garcia runs for U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez’s spot. Even though Chuy had always been a Democrat,
it’s the 12th Ward Independent Political Organization that is
funding and supporting him with significant support from the Chicago Teachers
Union. Independent voters are the new
norm across America.
School Boards Become Independent Think Tanks
School boards are
generally a stepping stone for a political career. They garner attention with hundreds and
sometimes, thousands of parents, i.e. voters.
A few school districts in the nation saw turnover that seems unsettling
for the yellow brick road to politics.
Milwaukee had a raucous school board election when a radio personality
created the Leaders
for a Better Community political group to support their own candidates. Though LBCs candidate Aisha Carr lost, the election
was a turn in campaigning. The LBC became a well-funded and highly publicized
political group challenging the school district superintendent. Bet on the LBC coming back for even more
elections in Milwaukee. In Douglas
County, Colorado four
seats were vacated due to candidates refusing re-election. The four seats were filled by two different Independent parties
not affiliated with the majority party of the school board. These new independent voters supported a private school
voucher program. Compare these two
stories with Trenton New Jersey’s school board election. Mayor Ras Baraka influenced the board by openly
endorsing candidates. The board is now filled with his Newark Unity slate. Unlike other boards, this board will reciprocate
the mayors support by rubber stamping his ideas and programs. Now, that “dependent” school board is truly a political
County, town and village board or council seats are changing due to Independent voters. County seats are generally a great way to
wield power in a wide expanse that includes larger voter numbers than a city. These are somewhat considered a stepping
stone to a U.S. Congressional seat.
Arlington County Virginia’s board has seen some changes due to Independent
and progressive candidates. This board is unusual because Virginia has
always been a mainstay for Republicans. In
the board had a Democratic Progressive candidate that was winning the deep blue
voters trust for a nomination. The previous year, Libbey
Garvey, an independent, maintained her seat against a highly endorsed and
well-funded candidate. According to the Green Party they hold 143 seats
across America. The county seats-county
supervisors, town councils and village trustees, tell the story. Wisconsin has three Green Party county seats
in a state that has become very red.
That seems a new path since Scott Walker has filled almost every seat he
can with Republicans. The other 6 county seats are dispersed throughout
America. These county seats filled by
Independents are a hard grab for unknowns.
Usually, a major party’s state and county organizations, for example the
Cook County Democratic Organization, raises the money, hires and fills the
campaign spots and has other elected officials on the campaign trail. Independents winning a seat where a majority
party is already in power is revolutionary in a small way. It’s a beginning. A very Independent beginning.
Rise of the Rest
The rise of the rest
is part of America’s future campaigns.
The Independent Voters Project is an organization that claims over
420,000 members. The project hosts
training on voting, precinct assignments with a variety of legal teams. As Gallup and elections are stating, the two
party system isn’t for everyone. A multi-party
system is rising. Independent voter
organizations are helping people win in smaller local elections as well. School boards across America, generally the
stepping stone of a political career, are gaining minority seats. These seats are being promoted by the
Independent voters that believe the same ol’ story for education funding and resources
isn’t enough. The Independent and
write-in votes will continue to tip the scales of elections.