America’s future rests with independent and swing voters

Steve Corbin is emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa and a freelance writer who receives no remuneration, funding, or endorsement from any for-profit business, nonprofit organization, political action committee, or political party.

It’s well known that on September 17, 1796, America’s first president warned citizens about the negative impact political parties could have on the country. In his farewell address, George Washington predicted that politicians and their party of preference could become “unprincipled.”

The divisiveness our political parties and their operative sons and daughters have purposely brought upon America is disheartening and shameful.

With the 2022 midterm elections only two months away, the negative partisanship ads have already begun. It’s a sad state of affairs we have to endure disinformation, misinformation, and political shenanigans every two years.

In June, a Yahoo News/YouGov poll found that 55 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of Republicans believe it is “likely” that the US will “cease to be a democracy in the future.” An NBC News poll that was in the field in August revealed 21 percent of registered voters ranked “threats to democracy” as the most important issue.

The democracy time bomb is ticking.

This should be a wake-up call to anyone who identifies as a proud American and values unity, individualism, equality, self-government, liberty and diversity.

Therefore, it could be argued that the November 8 election will foreshadow the 2024 presidential election result and whether we’ll continue to live in a “will of the people” democracy.

According to a nationwide Gallup poll in January, 42 percent of respondents identified as independents, 29 percent said they were Democrats and 27 percent Republicans.

Party diehards who view their party policies as the gospel will blindly vote for their candidate – just like lemmings who can’t think on their own accord -- even if she or he is the devil.

Dr. Rachel Bitecofer, founding editor of The Cycle and a prominent election forecaster and analyst, argues that 6-7 percent of the electorate are swing voters (people who don't consistently support one party). Plus, she notes that about 6 percent of the electorate are true independents who “tend to vote for whoever promises a break with the status quo.”

Independent voters are independent for a reason. They know we have a deeply divided and antagonistic political system. According to a Pew Research Center survey, about two-thirds of independents say they are swing voters because “both parties care more about special interests than about average Americans.”

Linda Killian, a senior scholar at the non-partisan Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars notes about half of the independents are closet Democrats/Republicans who vote regularly with one party. The remaining 50 percent are truly independent with their allegiance swinging from election to election.

While Bitecofer, Gallup, Pew Research Center, and Killian can’t agree as to the precise number of swing and independent voters, the message is the same: somewhere between 38 and 65 million voters are sick and tired of our political party propaganda peddlers.

Recognizing that independents detest negative campaign ads, today’s negative partisanship ads by the GOP and Democrats may drive independents to be even more serious about voting than heretofore. And, we know a lot of card-carrying Democrats and Republicans aren’t too pleased with their party or its current and former elected officials.

It would be wise for every registered voter to take this midterm election seriously.

What type of citizen will you be on November 8: a sit-at-home-non-participating voter, a party lemming, swing voter or independent voter? Your heirs and our country’s future are dependent upon your precious vote, whether you view voting as a fundamental right or a privilege with responsibilities.

  • Making good trouble

    There is a great deal of hand ringing in America today regarding the vitriolic and divisive politics we are accused of practicing. Commentary seems to revolve around the coarsening of language and the supposed adoption of a political dog eat dog rule book. Chuck Grassley certainly didn't pull any punches when he said IRS agents with assault rifles would soon be menacing Iowa small business owners because congress was partially restoring their funds. Most people agree this hot poker rhetoric in the context of mass shootings is fear mongering at its worst. But has anyone given Chuck the counter-punch he deserves, or would that be too divisive? We are in a fight for democracy. And the political temperature is rising because people are gaining awareness of that fact. The frog in the boiling pot was Mr.Nice Guy. Politics gets rough when the people with the knee on their neck fight back. I won't be persuaded to play nice when our rights are being systematically dismantled. I would much prefer that we all just get along, but first I must fight for democracy so we all can breathe. That starts but does not stop with your vote.

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