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The mythical independent voter isn't going to save us

Updated 1:11 PM ET, Fri November 15, 2019

David B. Magleby is Professor of Political Science, Emeritus, at Brigham Young University, and coauthor of the recent book, "Who Donates in Campaigns? The Importance of Message, Messenger, Medium, and Structure," with Jay Goodliffe and Joseph Olsen. Candice J. Nelson is Professor of Government at American University, and co-editor of the recent book, "Campaigns and Elections American Style," with James A. Thurber. The views expressed in this commentary are the author's own. View more opinion on CNN.

(CNN)In the United States today, independent voters are often presented as the electoral kingmakers. Not surprisingly then, nearly every political poll takes their views into account. And given that independents have outnumbered Democrats and Republicans in multiple surveys since the late 1970s, that seems to make sense. In 2016, for example, according to the American National Election Studies (ANES), 38% of Americans were independent, while only 33% identified as Democrats and 29% as Republican. Moreover, they are often presumed to be less partisan and less ideological -- thus more open to persuasion than party members.

David B. Magleby