I’m sure it’s a requirement that political commentators try to discover trends in voting patterns. It’s also not surprising that they try to make those trends deal with either the Democratic or the Republican parties. But I think that they simply don’t comprehend the meaning of “independent.”
I’m just one independent voter. I won’t register as a member of either of the major parties, and I truly vote independently. I examine everything I can find about each candidate in a race. (Have you ever tried to discover anything useful about candidates for the district utility board?) When I vote, it is a decision that the particular candidate is the best person in that race and in that race only. It doesn’t mean I’m likely to vote for the same person next year. If that candidate is a Democrat is doesn’t mean I’m suddenly leaning Democrat. If he or she is Republican, it doesn’t mean I’m leaning Republican.
For me, the meaning of being an independent voter is that those labels don’t impact the way I vote, except with reference to how party connections might impact the way a particular candidate will govern. I cannot be counted on for a trend. It’s back to a clean slate in each election.
I don’t know how well that applies to independent voters in general, but the unscientific poll of the independent voters I know, including a few who are registered with a party so that they can participate in primaries, but are no more loyal to the party label than I am, indicates that it’s a pretty common feeling. Party endorsement of a candidate means nothing. Each candidate must earn respect.
For myself, I will add that I don’t favor or disfavor the incumbent. Since I go out of my way to study the candidates, I will know the names of all of them. I’m never voting on name recognition.
So don’t seek a trend. I’m not starting to lean one way or another. If the candidates of the major parties–or any party–want my vote, they must earn it 100% for each candidacy.