Claims of a “ruinous paradox”
After explaining that OneMaine is wrong about the percentage of people who feel connected to political parties and incorrectly seems to believe “the myth of the independent voter,” it occured to me it might not be clear why this matters.
It’s no small matter. Mr. Cutler called the mismatch between the number of people attached to political parties (which he incorrectly pegged at 20%) and the central place of political parties in nominating candidates “a ruinous paradox.” This purported paradox is a critical foundation of OneMaine’s pitch for its role in Maine politics.
Since the data show that far more people than 20% support a political party, this particular paradox either doesn’t exist or is not as powerful as portrayed.
Now, this does not mean that Americans are happy with politics today. We know they are not. But we also know that there are far more than a mere 20% who feel attached to the major political parties and there are not massive numbers of “true” independents.
What about in the Pine Tree state? Maine people, of course, tend to like politicians who seem to be independent (some of whom are members of the Republican or Democratic parties). But even in Maine, most registered voters associate themselves with a political party and most voters voted for a major party candidate for governor in 2010.
Of course, OneMaine very well could have a role in Maine politics. But they do seem to be overselling on this point.
One more thing: In a coming post, I’ll discuss the claim that Maine’s political parties represent the extremes. For this to be true, you’d see homogeneous candidates and elected officials by party and practically no bipartisanship. That’s certainly not true in Maine.