05.12.2012 06:24 AM

In today’s Sun (early, again): independents day

Ever voted for more than one political party? Never purchased a party membership card? Ever refused to vote, after having come to the conclusion that “none of the above” is the best choice? Have “conservative” views on some issues, and decidedly “progressive” views on others?

If you answered yes to those questions, congratulations: You are part of the majority. You are part of the biggest political demographic there is — the independent voter.
In the U.S., independent voters have held sway for years. The Democrats and Republicans can generally count on their own partisans to come out and vote. But to win, they need to capture the support of the millions of Americans who call themselves “independent,” and who make up the largest and fastest-growing segment of the U.S. electorate.

In Canada, it hasn’t always been that way, but it’s changing. In recent days, a series of polls have been released showing many Canadian voters turning away from the traditional two-party alignment of Conservatives and Liberals, and indicating support for New Democrats. A Harris-Decima poll published late last week showed the NDP is now favoured by 34% of voters, to 30% for the Cons, and the Libs’ 20%. More than 2,000 Canadians were polled near the end of April by Harris-Decima. Their numbers closely reflect those published by Ipsos, Forum Research, Leger and CROP.

13 Comments

  1. Dan says:

    You’re sort of stating the obvious. In the past 20 years, you saw two of the longest surviving political parties disappear into the wilderness.. Even the party that came along to replace one of them is showing its limits with the electorate. People are desperately looking for some kind of alternative.

    The question is still why. I can speculate, obviously. But the hidden idea — that the independent voter is somewhere between the Conservatives and the Liberals, or even between the Conservatives and the NDP — doesn’t hold water. Otherwise they’d bounce back and forth between the two main parties for eternity. What’s happening here is something different. Especially among young people.

  2. Philippe says:

    I think that independent voters are a healthy thing. In the US, independents are the centrists. Therefore, it tends to force parties to moderate their more extreme positions. Will be interesting to see how it plays out up here.

    • Dan says:

      That’s a myth. A lot of independents are basically Republicans who like social programs, or Democrats who hate unions. And then there’s lots of independents to the right of republicans (white nationalist) and to the left of the democrats.

  3. dave says:

    Saturday…I goota go. So I’ll just mentiion a few things that I figure might be on people’s minds, and which those people figure are inadequately addressed by the 2 parties you suggest are the only 2 choices.
    Environment – both Libs and Conservs seem to be ready to put the economy/investors first over environment. The climate, for one thing, keeps sending messages that it is changing.
    Democracy – we are young in democracy as far as history goes, and we have a system, mirrored at the provincial levels, that seems skewed. Neither the Libs nor the Conservs are addressing this at all; in fact, they seem to like it the way it is.
    Economy – Neither Libs nor Conservs seem to want to talk about dutch disease, foreign ownership, and trade treaties that erode provincial and municipal autonomy.
    Internationally – neither Libs nor Conservs seem to have problem buying into the 21st Century arms race, use of our military not for defence of Canada – but for USA/NATO policies, Islamophobia, and the ringing of Russia and China with miltary bases and hardware.
    Gotta go…someone far better looking than I is waiting…

  4. frmr disgruntled Con now Happy Lib says:

    If that is the case, this pundit must have it wrong……..http://www.ipolitics.ca/2012/05/11/zach-paikin-liberals-must-prepare-for-a-more-conservative-canada/

    • !o! says:

      I think he is wrong. The pattern in Canada is actually kinda similar to UK and Germany (and France to an extent) — Canada isn’t getting more conservative, people got scared by 2008 and elected into power an emotional quick fix to the widespread insecurity. The implications of this are sinking in you see a pretty drastic polling shift away from it as the reality sinks in.

    • Dan says:

      Part of his argument is that the baby boom generation is growing older. Really? He thinks that the younger generation, that largely doesn’t care about gay marriage or abortion, and that wants to do something about climate change, is more conservative?

      He also says young people want social security to be solvent. Liberal strategists believe that means we have to cut social security. Most young people want corporations and wealthy people to pay higher taxes.

      The Liberal party hasn’t done a particularly good job of standing up for working people. But for the past 30 years, they’ve been actively making policy decisions that cut against working people. Maybe this Liberal strategist is right. The Liberal party needs to admit they took over the Progressive Conservative mantle in 1993, and pick Alison Redford. A wealthy party where the bigotry isn’t part of the official platform.

      Worst. Analysis. Ever.

  5. Brammer says:

    Interesting contrast of Norway and Alberta and by extension, Canada:

    http://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters/article/1175845–norway-using-oil-money-wisely

  6. william smith says:

    This phenomenon of trying to identify the independents is a result of willful blindness by the Lib pundits who refuse to accept the old dogma that is now breaking down – that is the way old libs would refuse to join the ndp, even if their beliefs were in fact ndp policies. “I’m not ndp” they proclaim and then proceed to fall lockstep into ndp policy.

    I don’t care what you call them – independents or wayward libs as long as they support the opposition that’s all that matters to me

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