UMass Lowell Political Scientists Available for Comment

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UMass Lowell political science experts are available for interviews about U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's announcement and the balance of power in the Senate.


Announced Friday, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s disassociation from the Democratic Party in favor of independent status is a “self-aggrandizing” move reflective of “general discontent” among not only political leadership but the general public concerning national government, according to UMass Lowell political science Professor Joshua Dyck who is available for further comment.

“The announcement is nothing more than Sinema wanting to cling onto her slowing declining power in the wake of the Senate moving to a stronger Democratic majority. She is representative of a trend – Americans who reject partisan politics on the simple principle that they dislike parties and partisanship. Her independence is not especially ideological, logical, consistent with her constituents or even with her own past self-reported political ideals,” said Dyck who is also director of the university’s Center for Public Opinion. “Rather, it embraces the nihilistic belief in anti-partyism or general discontent, a belief shared by millions of Americans who can’t articulate a set of coherent policy ideas or ideals, just simply that they don’t like the way things work.”

Switching her political association from left to neutral is not a simple solution for the animosity felt on all sides of the political aisle today, said Dyck. “The irony of this mindset is that it doesn’t offer an alternative way to build things up, but is instead a way to tear things down, and a self-aggrandizing one at that,” he said.

Fellow political scientist, UMass Lowell Associate Professor John Cluverius said most politicians switch parties in line with the demographics of their political base. “Sinema’s problem is, regardless of party affiliation, her constituents don’t like her: a majority of Democratic, independent and Republican-identified respondents in Arizona view her unfavorably.”

As for her decision to identify as an Independent, Cluverius said: “The notion of a large batch of centrists dominating politics in Arizona is laughable. The state’s two parties are as far apart as the state’s Grand Canyon, and like the Grand Canyon, there’s a big empty hole in the middle.”

Looking ahead to the next general election, Dyck added: “Her announcement is unlikely to change much of anything. If she wants to keep her committee assignments, she will need to caucus with the Democrats and support their leadership. Sinema knows she can’t win a Democratic or Republican primary in 2024 at this point, so she will need a three-way race to stay in the Senate.”

An expert in U.S. government, politics, party affiliations, public opinion and voting behavior, Dyck is the author of the award-winning Initiatives without Engagement: A realistic appraisal of direct democracy’s secondary efforts. Director of survey research at the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion, Cluverius is an expert in U.S. politics and political research methods.

To arrange an interview with Dyck or Cluverius, please contact Emily Gowdey-Backus or Nancy Cicco.