In the Democratic nomination process, entrance polls have shown that Hilary Clinton has been supported by the majority of registered Democratic Party voters while Bernie Sanders has done better among who self identify as independent. In fact, Hilary has won almost every caucuses and primary which was “closed”, where only registered Democrats were allow to vote. Sanders has done much better in caucuses and primaries which were “open” to all voters meaning that independents and Republicans could also vote. So that brought up a question in my mind – who are these independents who are voting for Bernie Sanders.
I used to think that all of the independents voters were moderates. I assumed they are people who did not want to be associated with either political party either because they are tired to the partisan gridlock in Washington and/or because they were unhappy with move of the Republican Party further to the right and the Democrats further to the left.
There are a lot of these so called independents out there. Gallup has done annual polling on the subject for years and currently 29% of Americans self identify as Democrats, 26% as Republicans, and 42% identify as independents. That leaves about 3% who I assume belong to third parties or never bother to vote.
I said “so called independents” because while they may not want to be identified as Democrats or Republicans 16% of those polled said they were independents who voted reliably for Democrats and another 16% were independents who voted reliably with the Republicans. So when we add in the 29% Democrats from above we come up with 45% who vote reliably for Democratic candidates. In the same manner we come with 26% + 16% = 42% of Americans who vote reliably Republican. That leaves only 10% of Americans who are truly independent, who might vote for a Democratic candidate in one election and a Republican in the next. I used to think that all of the independents were moderates. It looks like these 10% are only ones who are the true moderate independents in the middle.
Over the last few months have come to realize that there are a number of independents who are politically on the far left and have left the Democratic Party because it wasn’t liberal enough for their tastes.
That is the only thing that explains the Bernie zealots on the internet who say they aren’t Democrats. It is also the only thing that can explain the rush of independents who are voting for Bernie Sanders in open primaries and caucuses. It doesn’t make sense that those independents are moderates. One would expect moderate independents be more prone to vote for the more moderate Hillary Clinton than for Bernie Sanders, the far left socialist.
It is a well know fact that while both political parties have moved away from middle in recent years, the Republicans have move much further to the right than the Democrats have moved to the left. Perhaps that is because the far left zealots have mostly left the Democratic Party and therefore exert less influence on the organizations and its policies than if they had remained Democrats. After dealing with some of those on the far left on line during the Bernie Sanders invasion of the Democratic Party nomination process, I’m thinking that is a good thing.
However, going forward I believe that it would be a good idea if the state Democratic organizations would amend their rules to make all future Presidential caucuses and primaries closed to all but Democrats who have been registered as party members for at least six months unless they have recently moved to the state.
Political parties are private organizations which should be able to determine for themselves how they chose the candidates they will nominate for the Presidency. They have a perfect right to keep Republicans and other outsiders from meddling in their nomination process. No private organization is going to allow you to participate in their elections unless you are a member. Why should a political party be any different?
In addition, I favor the addition of the “Sanders Rule” at a national level. Only registered Democrats in good standing should be allowed to be candidates in the Democratic nomination process. This would entail that politicians register as members of the Democratic Party some minimum amount of time (perhaps 2 to 5 years) before the beginning of the nomination process.
We should make it clear that those who determine that is not in their best interests to join the Democratic Party – that’s fine, but understand that if you aren’t a Democrat, you aren’t going to participate in our nominating processes.