Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

The Growing Middle

MSNBC was happy to show today that the percentage of Americans self-identifying as Republican has sunk to yet another new low: 20%.  Given the behavior of what passes for a Republican party these days, I can’t say I’m disappointed myself.

But instead of just rubbing salt into the festering sore that passes for a Grand Ole Party, I thought I’d pause to consider the party that is growing the fastest:

“None of the Above.”

The Independent Party – or, more accurately, the crowd of individuals who check “independent” on their voter registration cards – is today the largest political bloc in the country.  The fact that it doesn’t act or vote as a bloc is even more delicious.

This chart from Nate Silver from April sums up most of the displacement in modern terms.  You note some interesting dips and rises in Independents in tandem with rises and dips in Republicans and Democrats.

Pew Research has this combined-sources report tracing the party affiliation of Democrats, Republicans and Independents since FDR in 1939:

And finally, to discount any idea that the growth in the Independent “party” is simply a reflection of Republicans camping out, Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post notes:

Just 17 percent of independents expressed confidence in Republicans’ ability to make the right decision while 83 percent said they did not have that confidence.

So, while the second and third-ranked parties consume most of the oxygen in the public debate, the members of the Number One party watch their antics and decide which lesser party to hire temporarily to fill government offices.

Carry on, Democrats and Republicans.  We’re listening.


  1. sricki

    about calling us the “middle” — I am an Independent, and I suspect I lean farther Left than near anyone here.

  2. but I don’t know whether they will be reflected in vote totals. How many of these people are pissed at the GOP, but are still social and fiscal conservatives? Will they really stay home in 2010 or vote for Dems? They might stay home if someone doesn’t energize them. I doubt they’ll vote Democratic.

  3. DTOzone

    it’s cool to be flexible. It’s cool to say “I can think for myself and make my own decisions and not be tied to a agenda” Partianship is blecch…it means you’re not your own person, you’re owned by a party. People don’t like that.

    This is why so many “wishy-washy” politicians get elected. How else could Olympia Snowe see skyrocketing approval ratings after voting AGAINST a public option in a state that supports it? She has a 70% approval rating AMONG Maine voters who support a public option?

    This is what makes much of the blogsphere so irrelevant.

  4. Shaun Appleby

    But I think it is a mistake to see the independent demographic in the United States as in any way homogenous or representative of anything.  It is a ‘none of the above’ category and little else and while it is perhaps an accurate barometer of disenchantment it really needs to have its crosstabs analysed carefully at every turn to be meaningful politically.

  5. Jjc2008

    love to play the “they’re all crooked” game and justify themselves hating government, hating politicians, and doing nothing.

    **Democracy requires work….hard work, activism, boots to the ground, thankless work.  Few people want to do it.  

    **Democracy does require some compromise.   Few people want that because we have a growing citizenry who believes in absolutes, in the individual desires needs, over the commons.

    We need to hang together less we hang separately.
    Someone said that.  The reason we need parties, need unions, need group cooperation because when the needs of one supercede the needs of community we have monarchy or autocracy or theocracy.

    Of the people, by the people, for the people by its nature requires some groupthink.   People were going crazy when the state of FL was daring to think about “rationing” care if there should be a major epidemic?   How dare people understand sometimes triage is a real need.  If there is not enough medicine, beds, etc how to we solve the problem?  Money…the rich get treated before the poor?  Mob violence…those with firepower get treated before the non gun owners?  What?   How about we put the survival of the greater good above individual wants and needs?   Do I sound like a socialist?  

    In my view, the “independents” is a misnomer.  Community requires seeing something beyond one’s own needs, beliefs and desires.  Yea, it does take a village.


  6. Jjc2008

    I have a lifetime of working with the left.  That would be about four decades.   Mostly what I have see is a group of people, more often women, more often minorities, getting out there to push for things that benefit community: more funding for public schools, better pay for public service; better housing for poor people.  

    Most of the extreme left I knew were anti war; anti segregation; anti ripping the masses off for the sake of a few.

    Now the word “independent” can mean many things.  And when I see some here calling themselves independent it is clear, it means different things to different people.  I call myself “liberal” and I say it proudly despite the right and centrists trying to shame those who believe in the notion of tolerance, understanding, open mindedness.  Like, independent, liberal means different things to different people.  I  choose to work through the democratic party because in my life experience they have done more for the common good than any republican party.  Neither are perfect but the individual cannot be about their own view.  Groups must come together to work for common goals and interests.

    What are the common goals of an independent?  How is there is focus on community if by definition an independent is about themselves? Identifying with a group does not mean one gives up their ability to think independently.  It means they believe in the basics of democracy……giving up/compromising some individual wants for the betterment of the group….for the people.

    As for “partisan”, I will take it over the phony bipartisan cr*p any day.   The will of the people in a democracy is what works.   Unfortunately, money and corporatism is thwarting the will of the people under the guise of bipartisanship.   I voted for Obama, not because I wanted him to work with the right, but because I wanted him to work for the people.   I am still waiting.  More people need to make a commitment to the needs of the majority.  The majority wants a public option.  The majority believes in public education, public works, public service.   But the minority likes the idea of making money off of what should be the common good.   When I see/hear independents as a group, along with centrists putting the needs of community before their own needs, I will show some respect.  

  7. Jjc2008

    And here in Colorado Springs they are a large group…larger than democrats here. I have reflected what I know about them.

    I am not impressed.

    Sorry if my view is unacceptable.  But my view is based on what I have experienced.

Comments are closed.