Political “Independents” Aren’t Moderates

Most independents are about as “moderate” as the partisans they profess not to be.

Hand dropping a ballot into a ballotbox

That’s how it is with political independents. Their “moderation” on policy issues is nothing but a trick of the light.

Most leaners are partisans in disguise — and have the preferences to match.

A graph looking at the average positions of Democrats vs Democratic leaners (and Republicans vs Republican leaners) on over 30 policy issues. There is very little difference between leaners and outright partisans on the vast majority of them.
A graph looking at the average positions of Democrats vs Democratic leaners (and Republicans vs Republican leaners) on over 30 policy issues. There is very little difference between leaners and outright partisans on the vast majority of them.
A chart with two areas, one blue indicating democratic leaners and one red indicating republican leaners. The red area is noticeably skewed to the right and the blue area is noticeably skewed to the left with little overlap and little area in the middle.
A chart with two areas, one blue indicating democratic leaners and one red indicating republican leaners. The red area is noticeably skewed to the right and the blue area is noticeably skewed to the left with little overlap and little area in the middle.

Independents differ in interesting ways! But policy ain’t one.

I’m a data scientist and social scientist specializing in political behavior. I’m also a runner, writer, gamer, YouTuber, and dinosaur enthusiast.

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