Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Rise of Trump & Sanders Signals Rise of American Independents

SOURCE: http://www.gallup.com/poll/180440/new-record-political-independents.aspx
In a blog post titled The Math and the Map, Mark Steyn analyzed Presidential election results from George Bush the First to the present, to conclude that Democrats have may an advantage over Republicans for the foreseeable future due to demographic trends. He blamed Karl Rove's "Red State/Blue State" strategy:

The red state/blue state division has been horribly unhealthy in a civic sense: It's given us the worst of all worlds - a hyperpartisan public discourse that provides a tedious and pointless vaudevillian cover for the cozy bipartisan Washington conspiracy that's screwing over your future 24/7 regardless of who's in office. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia, Rethuglicans are always at war with Demo-rats, and hey, let's toss another trillion into the great sucking maw of the federal leviathan.

Steyn's analysis of the electoral map discusses America's low voter turnout, but in hewing to a demographic determinist worldview fails to analyze what seems a far more significant development--the rise of Independents at the largest voting bloc in the USA, significantly outnumbering either registered Democrats or Republicans. 

Interestingly, according to the Gallup Poll, 42 percent of Americans now identify as Independent, versus 29 percent Democrat and 26 percent Republican.  

Eight years ago, in 2007, 39 percent of Americans identified as Democrats, and 28 percent Republican. Which means the GOP has lost 10 percent of their electoral market share while Democrats saw 25 percent of their party voters disappear during the same period. 

Which is to say, both parties have been shrinking--but the Democrats have been shrinking more than twice as fast. The rate of change is as significant as the raw numbers involved. And these statistics make one question a purely demographic approach to elections. If Gallup trends are correct, something other than demography is at work.

My guess is that Americans are "voting with their feet" and exiting the two established political parties in disgust. This anti-establishment sentiment is reflected in the rise of Donald Trump in the GOP and Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Party.

It does not hurt either candidate that they were not Party loyalists. Because Americans are voting against both parties. An analysis of the Gallup numbers suggests there is room for new parties among the American electorate at this time. However, it may be the federal regulatory and financing regime established by statute and custom (especially after Ralph Nader cost Al Gore the Presidency in 2000) makes it too difficult for third and fourth parties to compete--until the Supreme Court declares such thumb-on-the-scale incumbency protection unconstitutional, as a violation of the First Amendment.

Which is why both parties are facing insurgencies. Unable to challenge the GOP and Democratic parties externally, the now vocal majority has been forced to do so internally, which explains the bitterness and intensity of the 2016 Election.

In conclusion: the rise of Trump and Sanders signals the rise of American Independents.