Every Time a Conservative Caves, an Independent Gets His Wings

Jen Kuznicki
By Jen Kuznicki | February 20, 2014 | 12:09 PM EST

We are told the reason that more and more people are identifying as Independents is because Americans are just really sick of the do-nothing Congress.  We are supposed to believe that Americans want the Republicans and Democrats to "get along" and "get things done."

Party Affiliation (Gallup Poll)

According to a recent Gallup poll, more people have identified as Independents and less as Republicans in the past 25 years.  This graph from Gallup shows the stark contrast from two and a half decades ago, when Ronald Reagan was leaving office.  Independent and Republican were at the same levels, but now Republicans are at 25% identification and Independents are at 42%.

In Republican politics, this is a dream for the consultant class, because they believe that being an Independent means you are to the left of the Republican Party, and can be coaxed to vote for them, with a message similar to Democrats.  The consultant class believes that the pathetic 25% party identification is because no sane person would want people to think they are in the same party as tea party people, and because of that, the leadership and machine continue to smear and discredit tea party Republicans, or Constitutional Conservatives, if you will.

The poll shows that identification as a Democrat has gone down in the past 25 years, and reflects the lower number of people who voted for Obama in 2012 than in 2008.  The Republican Party lost to Obama even as Obama lost ten million votes in four years' time.  It also shows that Democrat party identification went down as much as Independent and Republican identification went up, when the tea party hit the scene in 2009 through 2010.  But since then, the Republican Party has had a difficult time retaining cheerleaders.

So what does each party do in the face of such polling?  The Democrats have remained steady, though on a downward trend, but have fed their base in an election year with some real red meat: raising the minimum wage and claiming Republicans are racists and bigots.  The Republicans are at the lowest point, (can you get much lower than 25% and remain a viable party?) and they are shunning their base, deleting social issue defenses, and blaming the tea party for ruining their plans, or something - but, most importantly, they are not effective in opposing the Democrats, or even using the tools granted them by the Constitution.

The Democrats look at that poll and say, "time for some red meat issues," and the Republicans look at that poll, misinterpreting why so many identify as Independents, and craft their election around winning Independents over, a near impossible task, because a significant number of Independents are now the tea party and the Party's base.

What's that you say?  The base can't leave...they're the base!  Yet, they are, in fact, leaving.

If the surge of Independents means that the tea party and the Republican base are having nothing to do with the Republican Party, while the Democrat Party is feeding red meat issues to its base, it would mean the Republican Party could lose everything they gained in 2010, and perhaps more.  Especially, if the consultant class believes that feeding Independents liberal tripe will get them to vote Republican.

So the "do-nothing" Congress isn't necessarily called the do-nothing because they aren't getting enough legislation passed, they are do-nothing because they are doing nothing to stop this president.

We are always told that elections have consequences, yet distrust of government is at an all-time high, both major parties are losing cheerleaders, and Congress' job approval remains at an all-time low, as linked in the Gallup story, which should show party leadership that the consequences to refusing to stand by election promises could be a severe routing this fall.