Minnesota's in the Middle

All things Minnesota politics

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The range of independents

One problem people have with gauging the Independence Party is they don't fully understand who the party appeals to. With a candidate like Tim Penny or Peter Hutchinson the assumption is the party is moderate Democrats without the special intrest money. While thats a huge part of the support, the real support is closer to fiscal Libertarians who when it comes down to it could care less about social policy as for the most part social issues are more symbolic then practicle.

The result is any successful Independence Party campaign will come as a result of getting would be Republicans on board. The liberal side of the party will never question fiscal conservatism, but the fiscal conservative side of the party will question overly liberal fiscal policy. As Peter Hutchinson says government needs to do a handful of things well and the rest is a side show. Transportation, Education, Health Care, and public safety matter to everyone every day, but everything else could be changed back and forth every election cycle and little would change, for example no matter what the law on gay marriage is gay people will be gay, and straight people will be straight.

For the most part the people don't care about gay marriage or immigration. People have strong opinions if you ask them, but most of the public understands the debate on those issues is silly and meaningless. There seems to be a clear divide among fiscal conservatives on social issues, in the two party system you have to support the Republicans no matter what your social views are (keep in mind these debates are meaningless, and the voters know it). With a strong fiscal conservative third option the voters however are able to take a stand on social issues, and for the most part people are to the left of today’s Republican party on those issues.

In the end Republicans are going to be more loyal then Democrats, and thus in three way races they will tend do better then the Democrat no matter how the Independence party candidate fares. Still there is a huge segment of the Republican Party that the Independence party taps into each election cycle. When the party gets it's 10% of Republicans and it's 15% of Democrats, along with a base of 5% when we "can't win" that moves up to around 15% when we can win, we do win. The key being gaining that Republican support.

This is an odd formula when it comes to this years 5th congressional district race. The key of course is the Democrat must go under 50% before the competition even begins. Even then however you don't win without getting the Republican support.


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