Friday, April 29, 2011

Independents' Growth a Good Sign of Shift to More Open Political Environment


  • Independents' growth a good sign (LETTER Arizona Republic) As the balance of power shifts from a two-party system to a more open political environment, we will see politicians begin to listen to their constituents, knowing their tenure is at risk with another player on the field.
  • Arizona Secretary of State says voter registration climbs to 3.2 million (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, The Republic) Figures released Friday show that 48,023 new voters have registered as either independents or with no party affiliation since last year's election. The number of new Republican registered voters is 10,243. Democrats have added 4,187 voters.
  • Beware ‘Mission Accomplished’ on Budget Debate (By NATE SILVER, NY Times/FiveThirtyEight) As these debates evolve, and voters learn more about the proposals, opinion may detach from its partisan moorings, and independent voters may begin to take sides. (So far, a relatively high 17 percent of independents are undecided as to which approach they prefer.)
NOTE: Whatever Jonathan Chait and John Sides are talking about below, we hope you won't mistake it as having anything remotely to do with being about independents.
  • The Irrationality Of Independent Voters (Jonathan Chait, The New Republic) Indeed, it's pretty clear that independents don't rationalize their votes on the basis of what drives them. They say they're voting this way or that because John McCain is too mean, or because they think Al Gore wants to cut Medicare, or that Walter Mondale is a wimp. They may be trying to grope toward explanations for behavior that's determined by factors they don't consciously realize, but that's irrational.
  • Independents Are Not a "Confused Horde" (John Sides, The Monkey Cage - "Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage. - H.L. Mencken") But more importantly, independents actually vote in predictable ways. Much more than partisans, they vote for the party advantaged by two fundamental factors: the economy and war. Let's consider the relationship between economic growth and war and the presidential vote for only the 10% or so of the population that is truly independent. In particular, I rely on a measure from Doug Hibbs that combines income growth and military fatalities in war, and American National Election Studies data on presidential voting by party.

An Anti-War Candidate Announces for President (by: Robert Naiman, Truthout) Many states have open primaries: any voter can vote in any primary. In other states, you have to register with a given party in order to participate in that party's primary. New Hampshire - a critical, early state, where the Eugene McCarthy campaign showed the Lyndon Johnson administration the depth of anti-war sentiment - is in between: if you register as an "undeclared" voter, you can vote in any primary.

Has California's Reform Moment Arrived? (William Bradley, California-based Political Analyst,, Huffington Post) As a result, a cottage industry of political reformers has sprung up. But though they've gotten a large share of ink at times, they haven't gotten very far, politically speaking, besides the initiatives successfully championed by Schwarzenegger on redistricting and open primaries. Here is the paradox. The need for reform is spurred by gridlock. But reform can't be achieved until the gridlock is broken, or at least surmounted or circumvented. Or maybe just sideswiped.

FBI probes scope of Troy vote fraud case - Feds scrutinize allegations of selective prosecution in Troy ballot fraud scandal (By BRENDAN J. LYONS, Albany Times Union) The allegations stem from the September 2009 primary elections when Republican operatives unearthed evidence that dozens of absentee ballots for the Working Families Party line had been forged. The ballots were handled by Democratic campaign workers and elected officials.

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