First, take a look at the awesome image that combine Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan into one face, and the one that does the same with Kennedy and Nixon. Cool. There was another that did the same with Obama and Bush, but I can’t seem to locate it as a still image online — oh, there it is.
I got excited when I saw those, and thought the piece, headlined “Death of the Duopoly,” would be a sort of UnParty manifesto. But no. When I want an Unparty Manifesto, I have to write it myself.
Unfortunately, this was one of those pieces that saw the WSJ’s sort of libertarianism as the natural successor to the two parties, going on about how the American people, in their supposed wisdom, are turned against the drug war, and toward paying people to abandon public schools. Ho-hum, the usual. Nothing paradigm-breaking at all.
But the pictures were cool. And while the author of this piece may be confused as to the implications, these data were at least confusing:
Perhaps the most important long-term trend in U.S. politics is the four-decade leak in market share by the country’s two dominant parties. In 1970, the Harris Poll asked Americans, “Regardless of how you may vote, what do you usually consider yourself—a Republican, a Democrat, an independent or some other party?”
Fully 49% of respondents chose Democrat, and 31% called themselves Republicans. Those figures are now 35% for Democrats and 28% for Republicans. While the numbers have fluctuated over the years, the only real growth market in politics is voters who decline affiliation, with independents increasing from 20% of respondents to 28%.
These findings are consistent with other surveys. In January, Gallup reported that the Democrats were near their lowest point in 22 years (31%), while the GOP remained stuck below the one-third mark at 29%. The affiliation with the highest marks? Independent, at 38% and growing. In a survey released in May, the Pew Research Center found that the percentage of independents rose from 29% in 2000 to 37% in 2011…
Yes, there are now more of us than there are of either Democrats or Republicans (at least, according to Gallup and apparently Pew). Maybe when we grow to exceed all the partisans combined, we’ll get somewhere. But at least we’re on our way.