The Purple Principle
S1 E3 The Forty Million Missing: America’s Independent Voters and Voices
Jul 9, 2020 · 24 min
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The Purple Principle, Season 1, Episode 3. The Forty Million Missing: America’s Independent Voters and Voices

By most measures, the US has over 40 million independent or unaffiliated voters representing a third or more of the electorate. Yet despite large and growing numbers, independents are often missing from the national conversation.  

Independents have no cable channel or national newspaper. You rarely encounter an independent perspective on a major network or opinion page. And there’s a surprising lack of scholarship on them as well. Yet independents loom large come election time precisely because of their large numbers and low predictability. 

Who are American’s prominent, politically-engaged political independents? We’ll meet four in episode 3.

Laura Sibilia, a three-term independent legislator in the Vermont Assembly; John Opdycke, President of Open Primaries; Thom Reilly, current  Chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education; and Jacqueline Salit, President of

Purple Principle theme and background music composed by Ryan Adair Rooney.


About Us. Independent Voting.

Angus King. ProPublica.

Bernie Sanders. ProPublica.

Chancellor Dr. Thom Reilly. Nevada System of Higher Education.

Governor Bill Walker. Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics.

Governor’s Roster 2020. National Governors Association.

Independent Voters. Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.

Laura Sibilia. Vermont General Assembly.

Voters, Media & Social Networks. Morrison Institute for Public Policy.

Mitzi Johnson. State of Vermont Speaker of the House.; VoteSmart.

Number of Legislators and Length of Term in Years. National Conference of State Legislatures.

Party Affiliation. Gallup.

Phil Scott. Ballotpedia.

Primary elections state-by-state. Independent Voter Project.

State Partisan Composition. National Conference of State Legislatures.

Vermont Reapportionment Statistics. VT Legislature.

Amash, Justin (7/14/19). Our politics is in a partisan death spiral. That’s why I’m leaving the GOP. The Washington Post.

Astor, Maggie (9/26/19). Phil Scott is First GOP Governor to Back Impeachment Inquiry. The New York Times.

Blake, Aaron (2/28/20). For the first time, there are fewer registered Republicans than independents. The Washington Post.

Cook, Rhodes (7/12/18). Registering by Party: Where the Democrats and Republicans are Ahead. UVA Center for Politics.

Drutman, Lee (10/19/19). Let a Thousand Parties Bloom. Foreign Policy.

Greenblatt, Alan (6/26/19). GOP Holds Voter-Registration Advantage in Races for Governor and President. Governing.

Jacobson, Louis (10/3/18). Where Independents Could Shake Up Race for Governor. Governing.

McCullum, April (11/8/18). How a Republican governor won blue Vermont – again. Burlington Free Press.

Remsen, Nancy (3/2/16). Mitzi Johnson: Farmer, Musician and Vermont’s Chief Budget Writer. Seven Days: Vermont’s Independent Voice.

Rindels, Michelle (8/7/17). Q&A with Thom Reilly, who starts today as chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education. The Nevada Independent.

Spangler, Todd (5/16/20). Justin Amash abandons presidential hopes, says it’s too hard to break through. Detroit Free Press.

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