The Independent Voter
Independent voters—the 40–50 percent of Americans who reject identification with either of the two major parties or with any party—are increasing in number and impact. Independents are determining the outcome of major elections, upending the long-held categories of political science. Drawing on historical and contemporary data (including survey data, participant observation, interviews, and current writings and scholarship) and providing timely new analysis, the authors argue that independents are an engine for a transformation of US democracy, perhaps even its saviors. Rather than “leaning” to a party or an ideology, independents vary on issues but share a deep distrust of the partisan system. What are the consequences of this distrust? What about shifting trends among Black, Latino, and Asian communities regarding party loyalty? What of young voters who eschew party identification wanting a different kind of political culture? For a wide variety of audiences, this book gives students, scholars, campaign professionals, activists, and media analysts an insight into current voting dynamics and future possibilities.
About the Authors
Chapter One: Who Is the Independent Voter?
Chapter Two: Independents in American History
Chapter Three: Independent Voter or Shadow Partisans?
Chapter Four: Independents and Their Uses of Power
Chapter Five: Can Independents Be Key to Bridging the Political Divide?
Chapter Six: Free the Voters: The Legal Barriers and Biases Against Independents
Chapter Seven: Independents Speak: "We’re Not a Party. We’re a Mindset"
Chapter Eight: What Binds Independents Together
Chapter Nine: Democracy’s Dilemma
Chapter Ten: Developing Democracy
Praise for The Independent Voter
"This book’s exploration of [independent voters] is important and honest. The major media organizations try to marginalize this group as being secretly partisan, or not holding any consistent beliefs. These organizations are trying to marginalize Independent voters because they know that we’re actually the majority, and if we band together, we can take this country back from the extreme partisans they represent."
--Andrew Yang, from the Foreword
"The Independent Voter does a fantastic job chronicling the rise, and power, of the fastest-growing segment of the electorate in the United States. It is clear that more and more Americans are tired of partisan gridlock and want their leaders to be public servants, not party servants. Republicans and Democratic leaders should take note and anyone interested in the future of American democracy should read this book."
--Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California
"This work seeks to prove that independent voters do indeed exist and are a powerful force. Thus, anyone interested in elections, voters, and the possibility of reimagining our two-party system should read this book!"
--Cathy J. Cohen, University of Chicago
"If you are interested in America's independent voters, you must read this book. It analyzes who independent voters are and makes a strong argument about how those not registered with a political party face ballot access challenges in states across the country. This book provocatively grapples with who independent voters are and why they matter."
--Christian Grose, University of Southern California
"The Independent Voter is an important work, both a piece of scholarship and a smoke signal, a cloud on the horizon, a shift in barometric pressure. Reilly, Salit and Ali paint a picture of an emergence, a political sensibility that simultaneously goes back to the founding of the country and looks forward to a more innovative and free-flowing manner of conducting political life in the 21st century. It's a book about possibility--how ordinary American voters are refusing to play by the partisan rules and are driving the country towards a new culture of self-governance. Read this book if you want to be inspired!"
--John Opdycke, President of Open Primaries