The Myth of the Independent Voter crystallized views that were becoming accepted in political science and began an effort to convince the press that self-described independent voters were not truly independent, but that these “leaners” were really closet partisans. Despite the success of that book, its argument has come with a cost. Most especially, a misrepresentation of the argument can play into the myth of a deeply polarized electorate. When scrutinized closely, it becomes clear that Americans often vote in a highly partisan way, yet they are far less likely to think in a clearly partisan fashion. All partisans, but especially weak partisans and independent leaners, disagree frequently with their respective parties. Indeed, just as we no longer see independents as a united block, we should avoid making claims that partisans are united, because even though these partisans often vote alike, they do not always think alike.
©2012 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston