This is a red-letter day in this history of political journalism. It’s the first time (to my knowledge, at least) that a mainstream cable news outlet has reported that Independent voters are not really independent!!! I could hardly believe my eyes:
The New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office expects a record turnout in the GOP primary due in part to the participation of the “undeclared” voters. Since there is no competitive Democratic primary, unlike 2008, more of these voters are expected to vote in the Republican primary.
While these “undeclared” voters may be the largest single voting group, political experts in the state said it would be a mistake to think of them as one monolithic group.
Andrew Smith, a professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire and director of its polling center, said these voters should be seen in three distinct blocks: about 35% are really Democrats who mostly vote as Democrats; 30-35% align themselves mostly with Republicans and GOP candidates; and 30% are truly independent. Smith said these are the least likely to vote.
Smith and Dante Scala, also a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire, both said independents in the state are not the key to winning.
“It never determines the outcome of the election. You have to win with your registered party,” Smith said. “The winning of the independents is icing on the cake.”
Sorry, I know I beat the drum way too often on this, but it’s one of the single largest misconceptions about American politics that leads to some of the most widespread and popular misunderstandings about voting and election outcomes in this country. The more this point can be publicized the better our explanations of voting behavior and political outcomes will be.