Well I learned something today. In South Dakota, Democrats hold an advantage. If they add independent voters to their rolls. And they can win if we follow Ann Tornburg math, named so after the South Dakota Democrat Chairwoman, who just ran the Democrat party into record low numbers of elected officials:
….voter registration with Independent voters and Democratic voters is still a significant majority, but it’s turning out everyone in both of those classifications of voter registrations, Democrats and Independents and convincing them to engage in down-ballot issues and that’s a problem that we definitely have.
Well, technically yes. If you add the 170,000 Democrats to the 120,000 Independents, you could try to claim more than the Republican party’s 253,000 voters. You could try if you’re a fool, or a simpleton.
The fact is that just because Dem leader Ann Tornburg tries to claim Independents in public statements doesn’t mean that they claim her. In fact, imagine 120,000 people quietly sidling away from her at the cocktail party because she sounds ridiculous.
In reality, as opposed to where Ann lives, when they vote, Independents generally break along the same proportions of those who identify a party registration in their voting behavior. For example:
What’s interesting is when you break out those independents. As we noted in August, most independents lean toward one party or the other — and in 2012, the majority of those leaning independents voted for their preferred party’s presidential candidate. (According to the book “The Gamble,” 90 percent of Democratic-leaning independents backed Obama in 2012, and 78 percent of Republican-leaning ones backed Romney.)
This is not a secret thing taught to exclusively to political scientists. It’s Voter Behavior 101. Another example:
The result is a distorted picture of the nation’s political makeup, according to political scientist John Petrocik of the University of Missouri. In an analysis just published in the journal Electoral Studies, he argues that the definition of independent voters used by many pollsters is far too broad.
Americans, he noted, “prefer to think of themselves as independent-minded and inclined to judge candidates on their individual merit.” But, he finds, “Very few Americans lack a party preference.”
Although an increasing number of Americans are calling themselves independents, Petrocik argues this is “more a matter of self-presentation than an accurate statement about our approach to elections, candidates, the parties and politics in general.”
“While a disproportionate numbers of swing voters are independents, two-thirds of independent voters are not swing voters,” added Tom Jensen, communications director of Public Policy Polling.
“This idea of the sage citizen who eschews party affiliation, is unbiased and persuadable by reason and facts, is very much a myth,” said Scott Keeter, director of survey research for the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. “Most people are committed to a party.
“They may not like the label, so some call themselves independents. But there are very few people who fit the archetypes of the wise, centrist independent. People who don’t have a lot of opinions tend to be disengaged from politics and less likely to vote.”
In South Dakota, guess what? If we accept the premise that 2/3 are not truly independent (I think that’s a little low) Of those roughly 120k independents, maybe 40,000 are true swing voters. Of the rest, 60% – or roughly 48,000 look at what the Dems have to offer and go “bleaugh,” and vote GOP. Around 32,000 of those independents should generally align with Democrats.
Adding all that up should give us a generally consistent 60/40 voting split between the 2 major parties. But that’s not what has been happening. South Dakota Democrats are so awful they have been having difficulty getting 30%. And that’s symptomatic of a political party which has utterly abdicated pretending to be one.
In other words, attempting to pretend that Democrats can carry even half of independents is an utter fantasy. Or Ann Tornburg math. You achieve equally silly results. People might declare themselves to be independent, but how they vote typically reflects society as a whole.
And in South Dakota, our society has repudiated the Democrat party, and all that it represents.