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Colenso: The power of Independents in an election


Are you unhappy when your chosen candidate wins the primary, and then loses the general election? If so, read on. 

Across the country, Republican registered voters are about 30% of the electorate, Democrats are about 30% and Independents are about 40%. The net result of that fact is that most federal office candidates can’t win the general election without the support of Independents. 

What we repeatedly see in Washington is the extreme members of a political party end up with significantly more control over the agenda than their numbers would account for. This happens in both parties, but a recent example from the Republican House showed that eight members can force the entire caucus into an action (removing Kevin McCarthy from the Speaker position) that they would not otherwise even consider. On the other side, we saw the House pass a comprehensive immigration reform measure at the very beginning of their tenure in leadership, and the Democrat Senate majority leader would not even let a vote be taken. Control matters.

Politicians want to be in the majority, because then their party controls the agenda. The only way for a party to maintain control over an extended period is to avoid alienating the Independents.  If they can do that, they have a chance to maintain their majority status and continue to control the agenda.

So, if you want your political party to have control, then you should use your vote in the primary for the candidate from your party with the best shot at gaining support from the Independents in the general election. 

Reader reactions, pro or con, are welcomed at AzOpinions@iniusa.org.