Thursday, October 14, 2010


Pollsters and election statisticians have turned an eye to registration numbers in an effort to keep their heads above water in the sea change that is taking place in American politics. More people are becoming independent, choosing candidates not parties. There's chatter about a third party... And as Jackie Salit pointed out in her recent Report from the President at 
"Right now, it’s very hard for the American people to express themselves.  The media has molded politics into a blood sport.  And the political system channels everything into a left/center/right, Democratic/Republican paradigm that undermines progress and rewards division. Independents are trying to make a statement about all of that. But even so, we barely register as “real,” even though, paradoxically, we now decide many important elections." 
One of the ways independents have taken on this fight is by challenging partisan attempts by both Repubs and Dems (depending on which party is the "minority" party in the state legislature) to close primaries. Such is the case in Idaho where a federal judge will hear testimony in a trial that could have national implications. Idaho voters do not register by party. Californians voted in June for a Top Two open primary referendum that enfranchised 3.4 million decline to state independents.

The gov race in New York has just gained new life.  New Yorkers have two good choices in November -- Andrew Cuomo on Column C the Independence Party line, or Brooklyn City Councilmember Charles Barron -- who I personally believe deserves support in his challenge to the Democratic Party establishment. Councilman Barron, a former Harlem Black Panther Party activist in the sixties, has taken a very positive step forward in the attempt to create ballot status for the new Freedom Party. Freedom needs 50,000 votes on Column J. 

More below...


  • Wooing Hearts and Minds in Land of Independents (By DEVLIN BARRETT, Wall Street Journal)  Independent voters will be crucial to congressional races all over the country, and nowhere more than in Connecticut, where the biggest party is no party at all.
  • Registration Trends in ‘Purple’ America (By Rhodes Cook, Wall Street Journal) From the late 1980s to 2008, the share of Democratic voters decreased from a slight majority of all those registered (51%) to 43%. The number of Republicans remained virtually unchanged, slipping slightly from 33% to 32%. Meanwhile, the proportion of those that chose not to identify with either party spiked upward from 16% in 1987 to 25% in 2008.
  • Voters want a different change (By CHUCK RAASCH • Gannett National Writer, Oregon Statesman Journal) All across the country, independents — many of them struggling blue-collar workers — are making similar calculations. Many helped elect Obama in 2008 and solidified the Democrats' hold on Congress. They appear to be just as engaged in this new season of discontent, but on the opposite side.
  • Our Opinion: Can Anyone Really Tap Into Voter Frustration? (Press & Dakotan) Frankly, other than its condemnation of the failures of both political parties, the independents’ proclamation relies on dashes of familiar rhetoric and promissory populism as it tries to tap into a widespread anger, now mostly loudly presented by the Tea Party, without aligning itself with any particular political ideology.
  • Election Unlikely to Change Policy or Politics (John Zogby, Forbes/DATA PLACE) The strongest trend in our politics is contempt for both parties that is greatest among independents, but also includes voters affiliated with both parties. These people want solutions and cooperation; and if neither party offers that, I believe they would be very open to a third party that offers it.
  • Triage Time for Democrats - Who can be saved with money, and who needs operational help that can't be delivered in time? (by Charlie Cook, National Journal/Off to the Races) Since ideologues and partisans are pretty much diametrically opposite of independents, tackling both jobs -- stimulating the base while reaching out to independent voters in a tough environment -- is awfully hard.
  • MediaPlanIQTM: How to Influence Independent Voters - Still Time to Sway Votes for Midterm Elections (marketwise)
  • Partisan Voter Registration Totals (Michael P. McDonald, Huffington Post) Twenty-nine states plus DC offer persons the option of declaring a party affiliation when they register to vote. Party registration totals thus provide a snapshot of the overall partisan balance within a state. Comparisons of these statistics over time provide a broader picture of overall trends.
  • Trial begins in GOP closed primary lawsuit (By Ben Botkin - Magic Valley Times-News writer) “It would have national ramifications,” said Harry Kresky, an attorney for, an intervening party in the case that represents 11 independent voters in Idaho.
  • Idaho GOP to make case for closing primary (KHQ Associated Press) Testimony Wednesday focused on a survey by a Republican pollster that found support for the idea that Democrat and Independent voters crossover into Republican primaries.
  • GOP argues for closed primary (Todd Dvorak Associated Press, The Spokesman Review - WA) The survey found that 41 percent of those voters identified themselves as non-GOP voters. Of those, 39 percent who identified as Democrats or likely to vote for Democrats said they usually take part in Republican primaries.
  • Dennis: Republican Vs. Republican (Spokesman Review - WA)
  • Republican Vs. Republican, Mad Magazine-style ( It is a trial of huge proportions, because it is a trial the outcome of which will mold the future of the state - who will run for office, who will serve in office and what policies will be followed for education, for the sanctity of life, for spending and for so many other vital issues.
  • Closed primary trial kicks off in federal court (Spokesman Review/Eye on Boise)
  • A positive step away from partisanship (By Harvey Platt, The Oregonian) One positive step toward inclusion would be establishing an "open primary" in Oregon, much like both California and Washington have recently enacted. The systematic exclusion of up to a third of independent eligible primary voters in our state is regrettable.
  • Still Working for Working People (Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation/Editor's Cut) As WFP executive director Dan Cantor told New York Magazine, “We’re looking to get a good vote on the Working Families line and use the power that accrues to that vote to influence outcomes.”
  • Jeremy Morlock: The Circus is Coming to Town (East Aurora Advertiser) Charles Barron is a former Black Panther running on the newly formed Freedom Party line. The outspoken councilman from Brooklyn arranged for the dictator Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe to be honored with a reception at New York's City Hall in 2002. Barron decided to run in a protest bid for governor after becoming upset that the Democratic Party's statewide slate included only white people. "The Freedom Party will not stand by & allow the Democratic Party or anyone else to continue to take the Black & Latino vote for granted," the party website states.

1 comment:

Steve Rankin said...

As to the first article under "Open Primaries": Contrary to what Ben Botkin says, no court can order closed primaries. If the state-mandated open primary is struck down, each party will then have the option of inviting independents to vote in its primaries.

Unless the state prohibits it, a party could even invite members of opposing parties to vote in its primaries-- which the Idaho Republicans obviously won't do.

~~ Steve Rankin
Jackson, Mississippi