WSJ Op-Ed Page Discovers Independents in New England

Either folks at the Wall Street Journal and the Cook Political Report have been reading Poli-Tea or the burgeoning independent insurgency in the northeast can no longer be ignored by the mainstream press and professional political analysts. In an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, Jennifer Duffy of the Cook Political Report writes that "independents are gaining traction in New England":

Third-party candidates rarely win elections. So what does it say about the deep blue states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island that they now have credible independents running for governor next year? While politics is often messy and even contradictory, third-party candidates tend to run strong when one party becomes so dominant that it becomes comfortable pushing unpopular policies. That seems to be happening now in the Democratic stronghold of New England.

In Massachusetts, state Treasurer Tim Cahill resigned from the Democratic Party recently to make a bid for the state's top job as an independent . . . In Rhode Island, former Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee is looking for a political comeback as an independent . . .

In Massachusetts, 50.2% of voters are registered as unaffiliated with either party (up from 42.2% in 1990). In Rhode Island, 50.1% are unaffiliated. Those numbers tell us that a majority of voters are somewhat disaffected with both parties. Messrs. Cahill and Chafee are hoping to stitch together a coalition of these voters.

This is not implausible in New England. Maine elected James B. Longley in 1974 and Angus King in 1994 as independent governors. In 1990, Connecticut elected Lowell Weicker governor as an independent, while Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman currently represent Vermont and Connecticut, respectively, as independent U.S. senators.

Of course, none of this is news to regular readers here at Poli-Tea. I've been following these developments since at least last spring (see, for instance, Independent in a One-Party State) and noted the regional trend over the summer in guest posts on the independence of independents for The Hankster and the Rotterdam Windmill. What is news here is the fact that cognizance of this independent movement is beginning to penetrate the consciousness of the national media.

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