Elephants and Donkeys in a Fox’s Clothing

Thinking Like a Fox, as a philosophy, is almost reflexively anti-partisan. That’s not to say that you won’t lean one way or another, but partisan politics tend to reek of hedgehog-ism. So I read this article  “Are Independents Just Partisans in Disguise?” with interest:

There’s a paradox, however: Even as the number of independents in the United States has soared, presidential election after presidential election in recent years has come down to the wire. If a third of the country is truly open-minded about supporting either the Republican or the Democrat for president, the math alone suggests elections should regularly produce outcomes other than a 50-50 split.

Political scientists have known for some time that significant numbers of independents vote consistently for Democrats or consistently for Republicans.

I’ve always somewhat worried about this myself – though I worry evenly whether I lean to the GOP or the Democrats, so I’m probably OK. While I agree with the logic that a third of the people probably aren’t “up for grabs” in an election, I suspect that the 50-50 split in recent elections might be the result of something of a feedback loop – the further one candidate is ahead, the less likely his supporters are to come out and vote on election day.

“It might break down into a third, a third, a third,” Nosek said, referring to independents who leaned Democratic, leaned Republican and were neutral. “There are a large number of independents who are not in the middle, but show some degree of implicit partisanship.”

That sounds more accurate – indicating that really only about 10% of voters are really up for grabs in any given election, meaning the plausible distribution of possible votes is somewhere between 45-55% for a candidate.


About thinklikeafox

I'm a Naval Officer living in Southern California. I hope to be attending law school in the next year or two, and I started writing this blog out of a desire to improve my writing and critical thinking skills after a couple years outside of academia.
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