Disillusioned With Dems and GOP, Independents Now Largest Voter Group in the US

Winding 336 miles through Maricopa, Pinal and Pima counties, the Central Arizona Project supplies water from the Colorado River to 80 percent of the state’s population and 40 percent of its farmlands. The U.S. Department of Interior has implemented a drought relief plan. Tier-1 shortage for the first time, which will cut 18 percent of Arizona’s water supply from the Colorado River. But during Arizona’s legislative session thus far, bills to address the water shortage have been overshadowed by the 140 billsThis is a preventative measure to combat so-called election fraud.

Arizona residents like Perri Benemelis, a white 61-year-old water policy analyst, are tired of “election fraud” talk, and many are turning away from the Republican and Democratic parties and registering or identifying as independents.

Benemelis suggested that a desalination plant in Mexico and monitoring of groundwater pumps in Mojave County could be used as solutions to the water shortage. However, it is not likely that this will be adopted by the state legislature.

“Considering the focus on election law probably means we’re not going to see a lot of substantive legislation addressing water availability,” Benemelis said. “We [Arizonans]Keep believing that fraud occurred in the last election and that this needs to be rectified. And because of this obsession by our Republican legislature, substantive issues — important issues to the citizens of the state of Arizona — are being largely ignored.”

The largest voting bloc in the country is now made up of independents. Mid-January saw 46 percent of those surveyed in a Gallup pollAccording to reports, 28% identify as independents and 24% as Democrats. The remaining 24% identify as Republicans. According to 2018 figuresIndependents are more likely to be younger, whiter, and male, but recent data shows that their numbers are increasing among other demographic groups. This group is deciding election outcomes — or at least making election results less predictable. Independent voters, who are pivotal to swing states such as Arizona, Michigan, Georgia and Wisconsin, favored Donald Trump by 4 percentage point in 2016 and Joe Biden, by 13 percentage point in 2020.

Since April 2021, President Biden’s approval rating among independents declined from 68 percent to 36 percent, according to a recent NBC poll. If the Texas primaries are any indication of what will happen in the future primaries later this calendar year, twice The number of independents who voted for Republican Governor in Texas was high. Greg Abbott than Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke. Republican primary turnout exceeded The Democratic primary turnout was almost 74%, a significant increase over the 46% difference in midterm elections 2018. Most independents polledWe oppose attempts to remove books and to ban abortions in schools.

This means that even though most independents don’t support culture war politics or extreme political views which led to their abandonment of Trump in 2019, the disillusionment among independents with the Biden administration could result in low voter turnout rates in favor of Democratic candidates. If the Democratic Party fails to capture the energy of this growing segment of voters, independents could be able to propel Republicans towards a congressional majority in this year and 2024.

The first time registered independents and third party voters were registered in Maricopa County at 35 percent of the total voter count. exceededThe number of Democrats and Republicans registered. Statewide, independents and third-party voters make up 34.2 percent, just behind Republicans but ahead of Democrats, according to the Arizona secretary of state’s voter registration report. The Open Primaries Education Fund, an independent organization, advocates for reforms to the primary election system. projectsThis trend will continue, and independents and voters from third parties will make up 43% of the state’s total voting population by 2036.

Projected numbers of Arizona voters by party registration from 2020-2036
Projected Arizona voter numbers by party registration, 2020-2036

Hugh McNichol, one of many veterans who identify their self as independent, is Hugh McNichol. According to a March 2020 Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America member survey41% of Iraqi and Afghanistan War veterans identify themselves as independent voters or third-party voters, 36% are Republican, and 22% are Democrat.

McNichol, a white man aged 39, lives in Lansing, Michigan. Before being hired by Tesla, he owned his own shop. McNichol was a U.S. Army mechanic for eight years, and was stationed there from 2006 to 2007. McNichol says he voted for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein in 2016 and Libertarian Gary Johnson in 2020, because they didn’t support the Iraq War.

“Veterans are realizing that neither one of the major parties have our best interests at heart,” McNichol told Truthout. “The vast majority of people in our country don’t care about what’s going over there…. But the politicians who sent me over there, they should be obliged to us. They should also be obligated towards those people there. And I don’t feel like they held up their promises in either case.”

McNichol started to observe that promises to build infrastructure in Iraq turned into profits for private contractors, particularly for Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), which received $39.5 billionin war-related contract. Dick Cheney was the chairman and CEO of former KBR parent company Halliburton until he became George W. Bush’s vice president in 2001.

“While I was there, I started hearing things like KBR gets $100 for a bag of laundry, KBR gets $100 for a plate of food, $6 for a can of soda, all these inflated expenses. And they weren’t keeping their promises of getting the infrastructure back up and running,” McNichol said.

Some veterans of the Afghanistan War feel like McNichol. broke a promiseAfghans during the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. McNichol returned to the United States and found that the Department of Veterans Affairs was overwhelmed and unprepared for helping returning soldiers.

McNichol worries about the lack of affordable housing and pollution in Lansing’s water sources. The city has been giving tax cuts and subsidy to General Motors (GM) for years. polluted Lansing’s groundwaterDioxane is an industrial chemical used by GM to clean oil from car parts. The pollution was discovered after the Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust was established by the federal government to take over the GM sites following the company’s bankruptcy in 2009. GM had already announced the discovery earlier this year. announcedIt would invest $7 billion in Michigan manufacturing sites. GM will partner with LG Energy Solution in Lansing to spend $2.6 Billion to build a new Lansing battery cell plant and provide 1,700 new jobs.

McNichol is concerned about the long-term effects. “These toxins from the GM plans are still not cleaned up. They don’t have any plans. The politicians in Lansing don’t care. They just want GM to come back again,” McNichol said.

Independent voters Truthout interviewed described a “rigged electoral system.” Despite the growing numbers of independents and third-party voters from diverse demographic and ideological groups, these voters face hurdles at the ballot box. Twenty-three U.S. states — including the battleground states of Arizona, Florida and Pennsylvania — have closed presidential primaries. Florida and Pennsylvania are among the 15 states that have closed their state and congressional primaries. Thirty states — including Arizona, Florida and Pennsylvania — require voters to declare a party affiliation upon registration. Those registered as independents are thus excluded from the two major parties’ closed primary elections, which, according to data from Ballotpedia35 percent of all state legislative elections are determined by the, In 11 states more than half of state legislative seats were not contested by major parties in 2020. Registering with the major parties often determines the drawing electoral districts. Poll workers are often chosen from voters who registered with the major parties.

Advocacy groups like Independent Voting Open Primaries Education FundVoter registration without party affiliation, nonpartisan primaries and a restructuring at the Federal Election Commission to ensure nonpartisan elections operations are what you want. According to National League of CitiesCurrently, nonpartisan municipal elections are held in 73 percent of the country’s largest cities.

“Independents began to see that the control of the electoral process by the two parties was fused with the larger economic and social circumstances in the country,” said Jacqueline Salit, president of IndependentVoting.org. “They began to feel that this was a country being run by a set of insiders, that the insiders had control over the political apparatus, and that unless and until we could change and transform the political apparatus, we weren’t going to be able to address issues of economic instability.”

Open primaries aside, the majority of those interviewed supported electoral reform measures like independent redistricting and having top two or four winners of primary elections compete for general elections. This system is already in place in California, Washington State and Alaska, Nebraska, Nebraska, and Louisiana. Others support ranked choice votingAlready adopted in 23 jurisdictions.

Florida is home to all major media talk The data on independents shows that Latinos are shifting their loyalty to the Republican Party following Trump’s gains in Arizona, Texas, and Florida in 2020. According to the Florida Department of State’s October 2020 voter registration records, 36.5 percent of Latinos in the state registered as a third-party member or unaffiliated, behind Democrats and well ahead of Republicans. Data An earlier report from this year shows that independents now make up 28.7 per cent of all registered voters in the state. If this trend continues, the state’s independent and third-party voters will exceed Republicans and Democrats by 2035.

Jose Torres is 65 years old and identifies himself as Hispanic. He lives in Jacksonville, Florida and reluctantly voted in 2016 for Hillary Clinton, Andrew Gillum for governor, and Biden for president. Torres is described as both economically conservative and socially libertarian. He identifies as an independent and advocates for open primary elections in Florida because he is tired of having to vote for the “lesser of two evils.”

“The Democrats have taken Hispanic voters for granted for 20 years. We are not monolithic,” Torres told Truthout.

Torres claims that Republicans were able use anti-communist rhetoric in South Florida to gain support from Cubans. Even though he doesn’t buy into this rhetoric, Torres says that the Democratic Party has also failed to address issues of concern to him: high prescription drug prices, stagnant state minimum wages and climate change, citing rising sea levelsThese could cause Miami to sink two feet under water within the next 40-years.

Projected numbers of Florida voters by party registration from 2020-2035
Projected Florida voter numbers by party registration, 2020-2035

Young Latino voters of the first generation are less likely to be affiliated with either of the major parties. According to the Open Primaries Education Fund report60 percent of Latinos living in the U.S. under 35 are young, and more Latino millennials than 50 percent are independent.

Dariel Cruz Rodriguez, a 17-year old senior at Colonial High School, Orlando, Florida, will be voting for the first time in this year’s election. Rodriguez declares himself an independent. He said he will probably vote for Democrats this year, because of the state’s Republican-dominated legislature’s efforts to restrict voting rights, but he is also frustrated with the Democrats and the Biden administration.

“I supported Joe Biden, mainly because I wanted to get the other guy out. But Biden made a lot of promises on the campaign trail, and failed to follow through with a lot of them, especially on student loan forgiveness, which is really important to me and a lot of my other classmates,” Rodriguez told Truthout.

Rodriguez is not only asking for student loan forgiveness but also wants the government to address climate change and improve public transportation. He also opposes Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay”The bill was recently approved by the State House Legislature.

“Politicians are using Florida’s children and students as playing cards in the state legislature,” Rodriguez said.

Originally from the city of Ludowici in southern Georgia, Ron Dumas, a 23-year-old Black man, is currently finishing up his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Carolina in Asheville. He is majoring in ethics because, as he states, “I care about what is right.”

Dumas describes his hometown in Georgia as lacking in educational opportunities and job mobility: “I always say that there’s just a gas station and a high school in Ludowici.” Ludowici, with a population of 2,442, according to 2020 census figures, is 56 percent white and 36 percent African American, and votes largely conservative. Dumas says the Democrats “abandoned the community when they believed they couldn’t compete for the vote.”

Dumas’s mom is a medical assistant and his stepfather a veteran and truck driver. He recalls being 9 years old when his mom allowed him to stay up late to watch Barack Obama’s 2008 inauguration ceremony. It was the first time his parents had ever voted — his mom told him she didn’t vote in 2004 because “it would not have mattered.”

Dumas voted in 2020 for the first time, supporting Bernie Sanders in primaries. He observed that his peers were less excited when Biden was elected Democratic nominee.

Dumas’s and Rodriguez’s sentiments echo the findings of a September 2020 survey conducted by Politico among Gen Z voters. Nearly half the Gen Z respondents indicated that they voted more Against Trump, rather than For Biden. Forty-two percent of the poll’s Gen Z respondents identify as independent, 39 percent as Democrats and 20 percent as Republican.

“There is a consensus that people are tired of polarization and tired of the sort of politics where you’re always voting against something and never for something,” Dumas said. Dumas hopes that Biden will keep his promises regarding voting rights legislation and affordable health care, affordable childcare, affordable housing, and the Build Back better plan.

Biden ignited while on the campaign trail backlash and had to apologize to Black voters when he said, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me, or Trump, then you ain’t Black.” But more than a quarterMany Black voters are registered as independents and may be looking for alternatives to the major parties. Since last April, the president’s approval rating has declined Black voters: 83 percent to 64%

Jarrell Corley, a 35 year-old Black man, insists that Black voters do not exist in a single group and that there is more than one side to an issue.

Corley is an independent because he is tired seeing no change for the Black community in Republican or Democratic administrations. He voted for Clinton in 2016, but did not vote in the 2020 presidential election, saying, “There was no point in voting. I didn’t have a dog in the fight.”

Corley was born in Chicago. Corley points out that while the Democrats dominate most urban centers with large Black residents, the conditions, including displacement, are getting worse.

“The only reason Black people don’t feel comfortable voting for Republicans is because the Democrats are a mouthpiece for the issues of Black people. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything is getting done,” Corley told Truthout. “If you look into all these major cities run by Democrats, what’s going on? Gentrification. They’re displacing poor, marginalized groups of people for new high economic development. While you talk about progress and police violence and all that stuff, what are you actually doing? It’s all a facade. Using Black tragedy as a means to galvanize power.”

Sam Clayton, a 21 year-old white student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, studies horticulture. Clayton is nonbinary, using they/them pronouns, and is the treasurer of the campus’s chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America. Clayton recently led the UW-Madison local chapter to work with other organizations to stop a city attempt to shut down homeless encampments in Madison’s Reindahl Park and instead helped push the city to use federal COVID relief money to construct shelters there instead.

Clayton said they voted for Biden in 2020 out of “duress” and with “no excitement,” and has not seen any improvement in their material conditions.

According to some reports, Millennials are the first generation to enter the workforce. do worseGen Z is more financially secure than their parents, a trend that has continued as housing and college prices rise. Clayton describes how Clayton’s parents paid off college costs and bought their first home before they were even 20 years old. “It’s generally hard for young people to imagine a good future. And the Democrats don’t inspire much confidence in anything other than the status quo,” Clayton said. “The Democrats rely on this assumption that because they’re using progressive language, that’ll translate into youth voters. But more and more people that I talk to, even folks who are not politically inclined, don’t like what’s going on. The phrase ‘settled’ encompasses how people feel about voting for Democrats.”

While PoliticoAccording to reports, while young voters are less likely to consider voting important than all other age groups, they are equally likely to believe that they can influence politics and political affairs. Young voters are more likely than older voters to support protests. Millennial and Gen Z voters interviewed for this article expressed a distrust of the government to address the country’s problems, and believe they must rely on their communities instead.

Clayton is concerned about rising temperatures, rising housing prices, rising utility bills, and student loans. Clayton, a nonbinary, does not believe they would be safe in a Republican administration. However, they think the Democrats could lose in 2022 and 2024, as young people don’t rely on the electoral system for change.

“I think the Democrats have done a very good job of turning young people off from voting because they haven’t done much for us,” said Clayton. “But there is an increase in people’s political militancy and political agitation in terms of protesting, not necessarily just at the ballot box.”

Pennsylvania holds several closed presidential, congressional, and state primaries. bills The state government has been unable to open primary elections. According to January 2022 voter register data from the Pennsylvania Department of State, 14.8 percent of voters registered as unaffiliated or “other.”

Third-party and independent candidates don’t have the same access as the two major parties to funding or voter rolls. Furthermore, they often face legal challenges from the two parties who fear a third-party candidate will draw voters away from them or “spoil” their race.

Matt Nemeth, a 27-year-old white man and chair of the Green Party Allegheny chapter in Pennsylvania, regrets his vote for Clinton in 2016 and expresses frustration with the argument that their members are “spoiling” the vote, as both Clinton and Trump “serve private interests.”

Nemeth’s parents voted for Trump twice because he promised to bring manufacturing jobs back to Pennsylvania. Nemeth, however, believes that manufacturing jobs shouldn’t come at the expense of corporate accountability, clean air, and a promise that both Democrats as well as Republicans have not kept.

U.S. Steel was founded in 1886. canceled plans for a $1.5 billion upgrade to bring three plants in Pennsylvania’s Monongahela Valley up to health department regulations. After two fires caused the release of benzene into the atmosphere and caused asthma-related emergency room visits among residents, regulations were put in place. U.S. Steel is currently working to restart the plants. challenging the Allegheny Health Department’s regulations.

“Both parties made promises that they don’t want to keep or can’t keep, and then every four years, we switch to another party, and the cycle repeats,” Nemeth told Truthout.

If the voices and concerns of this growing group, including independents and third party voters, are not heard or taken seriously, it could cause further instability in our elections over the next few years.

In Chattanooga Tennessee Amber Hysell is an independent white woman aged 37 who is creating another. bid for a seat in the state’s 3rd Congressional District. Hysell is a working mom who still has student loans to pay for college accounting degrees she was unable finish after her financial aid ran out. There were only two classes left. She worked in retail and service jobs for most of her adult life. This allowed her to spend more time with her child.

Fed up with issues of concern to her being overlooked — wealth inequality, child care, health care, underfunded schools and affordable housing — Hysell decided to run for Congress. The Hamilton County Democrats gave her a 1970s Democratic strategy book when they invited her to run for Congress in 2020.

“The way they described how a campaign is supposed to work, it made me feel like they didn’t realize they were in Tennessee, that they were just incredibly out of touch with the problems in this district and in this state. It really did not seem to me to have an actual plan or the actual desire to win down here,” Hysell told Truthout.

As an independent, Hysell doesn’t automatically get access to voter contact information or funding sources as candidates from the two major parties do. But when asked why she was bothering to run when there were so many hurdles, Hysell replies: “Life is going to be difficult for the next generation. We’re not addressing climate change. We’re not addressing inequality in any meaningful way. Republicans and Democrats are not the same thing. Neither one is paying the bills. They have created a system that blockades anyone who doesn’t fall on one side or the other. And the best thing that I can do for my kid is do whatever I can to change that outcome.”