Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Frustrated voters cut ties with Democrats, Republicans

USA Today

The nation's fastest-growing political party is "none of the above," which could be bad news for Democrats and Republicans.

As the 2010 midterm elections and the anti-tax "Tea Party" movement take shape, more Americans are registering "unaffiliated" rather than signing up with one of the two major parties.

The number of independent voters has grown faster in the past two years than Democrats and Republicans in at least 14 of the 28 states and the District of Columbia that register voters by party, according to a USA TODAY review.

"It's been a steady incline," says Ken Bennett, secretary of State in Arizona, where unaffiliated voters have jumped 30% since 2008. "It's kind of an in-your-face reminder to candidates of both parties that there's a whole other block of people who have to be acknowledged and courted."

The trend might bode well for moderates in states with open primaries, where the unaffiliated can vote. It could help GOP Sen. John McCain in Arizona and Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in Colorado, being challenged by traditional party stalwarts, says Jennifer Duffy of the non-partisan Cook Political Report.

The rise of independents goes back two decades, but many states are seeing bigger boosts now. For the first time since Gallup starting asking in 1992, both major parties are viewed unfavorably by most Americans. Nearly four in 10 voters call themselves independents, Gallup says.

Unaffiliated voters now outnumber Democrats and Republicans in nine states: Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

Several states have seen dramatic shifts in the past two years, according to voter registration data:

•North Carolina has seen an 18% jump in unaffiliated voters, 8% among Democrats and no increase for Republicans. "People no longer want to be associated with a party," says elections director Gary Bartlett. "They like to not be categorized."

•In New Hampshire, independents are up 16%, Democrats 2%, and Republicans are flat. "The people who choose to be undeclared … are interested in voting for the person, regardless of party affiliation," says Deputy Secretary of State Dave Scanlan.

•Nevada's unaffiliated and independent registrations are up 13%, Democrats 8%. The GOP lost 2%.

Even where the rise of independents has slowed, officials predict a rebound. Says Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown: "It's because of the frustration with the political situation in Washington."


  1. Something Onion-esque about the headline.

  2. Voters have been abandoning the two mainstream parties for years, but they don't seem to care.

    The Republicans and the Democrats could soon be relegated to the cobwebs of history, like the Whigs, the Federalists, and the Free Soil party.

    Fine by me. They're both corrupt (and clueless) beyond salvation.

  3. I was having a conversation with a friend here - he said something about knowing that I didn't like Obama (he's worked on Conservative campaigns here). Unfortunately, we got interrupted at that point, and I didn't get a chance to tell him that I didn't like McCain much better! I've always been Republican - it's in the blood. My maternal grandfather was in legislature in PA, and my mom campaigned as a Goldwater Girl. But the current crop leaves me cold; the slate needs to be cleaned and we need to start over. These days, I'd likely register as an Independant.

    I can say that I really, really like Stephen Harper... If we could clone him, we'd be glad to share. :-)

  4. My political background is very similar to yours, Lyana. And I agree that we need to start over with some new, younger candidates. I've been watching the Florida race and like Rubio allot :-)

    I like Harper too.