The 2 Types of Independents

Note: This is Part 4 of my Political Typology series.


There are two possible lanes for Independents to win statewide and national elections:

  1. Moderate Independent:
    • Unify the two moderate Democratic + two moderate Republican lanes.
  2. Populist Independent:
    • Unify the two populist Democratic + two populist Republican lanes.


This is based on my prior analyses of The 4 Types of Democrats and The 4 Types of Republicans.

Most modern US politicians assume that they have to run with one of the two Parties.

  • Even Independents like Bernie Sanders first run in their Party primary before caucusing as an Independent.
  • This post will analyze alternate lanes to winning elections as an Independent.

The Two Types of Independents:

1. The Moderate Independent Lane:

  • Conventional wisdom assumes that this would be the best lane for an Independent.
    • E Republicans have been underserved by Trump-era Republicans.
      • Es tend to be economically conservative + socially liberal.
  • But Moderates (especially Democrats) are more pragmatic and are thus usually party loyalists.
    • B Democrats are the traditional base of the Democratic party.
      • Bs will be among the last to abandon the two-party system.
2024 Candidates:
  • Andrew Yang:
    • Lane #1: C → B → E → N
      • Yang got blocked by Biden from going C → B in 2020.
    • Lane #2: C → N → E → B
      • Yang could go All-Populist first and then crossover into the Moderate Establishment.
  • Dwayne Johnson:
    • The Rock could win the Moderate AND Democratic lanes.
      • He can play in all 8 quadrants and seriously complete in the left 6.
      • But 2024 is probably the wrong race for him.
        • Biden/Harris dominate the B lane, which is part of his future base.
    • Lane #1 (Moderate): C → N → E → B
      • The Rock is my favorite long-term candidate for the Moderate Lane.
        • He could win the four middle quadrants in a polarized 2028.
    • Lane #2 (Democrat): C → D → B → A
  • Mark Cuban:
    • Lane #1: N → E → C → B
      • Cuban’s biggest challenge with this lane would be winning over B Democrats.
        • Cuban could go D instead of B for his 4th quadrant in this Lane.
    • Lane #2: N → C → E → B
      • Cuban could go Independent from the start by first consolidating the Moderate Populists.
        • Trump’s ability to crossover to C Democrats was why he won in 2016.
          • Cuban would have a similar appeal to Cs.
    • Lane #3: N → E → S → W
      • Cuban also has the potential to consolidate the 4 Types of Republicans.
        • This is Cuban’s clearest path to the Presidency through the Electoral College.
          • This Lane would work best against an Establishment Conservative.
            • Watch out Ted Cruz.
        • This is the classic lane for an outsider businessman.
          • Donald Trump still holds power over this Lane.
            • Ivanka would also have a strong shot at this Lane.
            • Cuban would need a zero-Trump election to go national with this Lane.

2. The Populist Independent Lane:

  • This is the lane Donald Trump should have dominated in 2020.
    • Trump’s grift was promising to be a Populist and then being a classic Republican as President.
      • A true Populist would fight the leadership of both parties and form their own Independent base.
2024 Candidates:
  • Tucker Carlson:
    • Tucker already has the inside lane on S → N if no Trumps run in 2024.
      • Option 1: Crossover to the Populist Left (S → N → C → D).
      • Option 2: Go S  → N  → W  → E and consolidate the 4 Types of Republicans.
  • Kanye West:
    • Kanye’s 2020 looked like Trump’s 2000.
      • Both tested the waters but couldn’t find a lane so they quit early.
    • Kanye’s path in 2024 and beyond would need to start with consolidating the Populist Left.
      • His national range would depend on his ability to crossover to the Populist Right.
        • Lane: C → D → N → S
  • Dave Portnoy:
    • Portnoy is used to playing Counter against the media Establishment.
      • His fundraising for the Barstool Fund and Emergency Press Conferences in defense of small business owners during COVID show he could be a political force if he wants to run.
        • Lane: N → C → S → D

3. All-Establishment Lane?

  • I don’t think we’ll ever see a true top vs. bottom election.
    • The bottom would win every time.
      • Populists outnumber the Establishment.
        • The only lanes for the Establishment go through the two parties.

Advice: Start Small

The Electoral College is extremely biased towards a two-party system.

These lanes will work now in key polarized local elections.

  • The key is picking a district where the majority of voters are in your base.

These lanes work best when running against two extreme Establishment candidates.

  • An Independent’s base is people who wish they could vote None of the Above.
    • The best Independents give a voice to people who politicians usually ignore.

Calling All Independents:

  • If you or anyone you know is considering running for office as an Independent, please let me know.
  • Recruiting Independents Into Politics is on my list of the World’s Biggest Problems.

Published by Neil Thanedar

Neil Thanedar is an entrepreneur, investor, scientist, altruist, and author. He is the founder & GP of Utopic, a pre-seed biotech VC fund investing in the future of science. He is also the founder & chairman of Air to All, a 501(c)3 nonprofit medical device startup, and Labdoor, a consumer watchdog with $7M+ in funding and 20M+ users. He previously co-founded Avomeen Analytical Services, a product development and testing lab acquired for $30M+ in 2016. He has also served as Executive Director of The Detroit Partnership and Senior Advisor to his father Shri Thanedar in his campaigns for Governor, State Representative, and US Congress in Michigan.