Today is primary day and 3.5 million Flori

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What Would Get More New Yorkers to Vote? Make Elections Nonpartisan

From the New York Times yesterday

What Would Get More New Yorkers to Vote?

read more of the discussion here

  h/t to Nomi Azulay

Make Elections Nonpartisan

Randy M. Mastro
Randy M. Mastro is a former deputy mayor of New York City, under Rudolph W. Giuliani, and is now a litigation partner at the law firm of Gibson Dunn.
Updated June 26, 2012, 11:14 PM
New York City can reverse the alarming drop in voter turnout by adopting a nonpartisan election system where
candidates of any or no political stripe run in an open primary and get on the ballot through petitioning. Any candidate who gets more than 50 percent of the vote wins outright, but assuming no candidate reaches that majority threshold, the top two vote-getters in the primary then square off in the general election. This approach would permit more registered voters to participate in a meaningful primary process and attract more good candidates to run for office.
With the exception of the mayoralty, we remain essentially a one-party town, so the Democratic primary is the election, and that primary is closed to registered Democrats only.
Any candidate who gets more than 50 percent of the vote wins. If no candidate reaches that threshold, the top two vote-getters square off in the general election.
Most other cities in this country have changed their local electoral systems. Today, more than 80 percent of American cities have nonpartisan elections for local office. Indeed, major cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Detroit, Dallas, San Francisco and Boston all elect their mayors through some form of nonpartisan election. And the voters have embraced the change. In Los Angeles, for example, voter turnout has risen nearly 20 percent over the last two mayoral election cycles, far surpassing New York City's rates of participation. Indeed, the last time New York City exceeded Los Angeles's voter turnout in a mayoral primary election was in 1989.
The time for change has come. Instead of lagging behind the rest of the nation, New York City needs to do the what it does best -- lead. The benefits are obvious. In our closed primary system, nearly one-third of registered New York City voters are not eligible to vote in the Democratic primary that typically determines the ultimate winner. And the party organization or, to a lesser extent, special interest coalitions that can influence low-turnout Democratic
primaries, dictate the outcome. But with an open primary/"top two" run-off election system, all voters could participate, and more good candidates would be encouraged to run, having a greater likelihood of prevailing in open primaries, than in the current closed system.
It's really a simple proposition: If we want to turn around this alarming trend and, instead, encourage increased voter participation in our local elections and attract more good candidates to run for local office, we need to learn a lesson from the rest of the country: Nonpartisan elections work to accomplish those goals.
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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hankster News of the Day for Independent Voters - June 26

Howell Vows to Wear Name Tag Until Election (by Katie Pyzyk, Arlington VA Now) Howell believes part of the problem with campaigning, particularly as an independent, is the lack of name recognition. To remedy that problem, he’ll wear a name tag every time he’s in public until the election. Howell hopes he’ll get enough exposure so people will recognize his name by the time they get to the polls. He said there’s only one exception to the name tag rule: “When I’m wearing a campaign t-shirt in the gym.”

California GOP sinking into third-party status -- 'There's no middle,' says a longtime Santa Cruz County Republican who has joined the more than one-fifth of registered voters who have no party preference. (By George Skelton Capitol Journal, LA Times) More than one-fifth of registered voters, 21.3%, are listed with no party preference, according to the Secretary of State. That's double the 10.7% in 1996 and more than quadruple the 5% in 1972.

All eyes on Washington's independent voters -- Even though Washington state has gone Democratic for every governor since 1980 and every presidential candidate since 1988, more Washingtonians have considered themselves Independents than either Democrats or Republicans (By H. Stuart Elway, Special to The Seattle Times) Unlike in most states, voters here do not have to register by party. Nearly every month for the past 20 years, The Elway Poll has asked Washington voters what they would choose to do if they registered by party. The 20-year average is: 33 percent would register as Democrats, 28 percent as Republicans and 39 percent as Independents.

Independent voters may be shut out of GOP primaries - Lawmakers may allow law to expire, ending Election Day party switch. (By Lee Davidson, The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah law allows voters to switch party affiliations anytime, except for 30 days before an election when all voter registration temporarily ceases. So if the current law expires, unaffiliated voters wishing to vote in a GOP primary would have to register as Republicans at least 30 days before the election.

Let's take politics out of redistricting process (Mary Kirtz Van Nortwick, Cleveland Plain Dealer) Petitions are being circulated now, and 386,000 valid signatures must be gathered by July 3. For a more detailed look at the proposed constitutional amendment, go to Learn the facts about the consequences of partisan redistricting and find out what you can do to help change the system for the good of all voters, regardless of party affiliation.

Arizona Libertarian Party Opens 2012 Primary Election to Independent Voters (by Hot Off The Press, Press Release, Tucson Citizen) Libertarian Party files paperwork with the Arizona Secretary of State’s office requesting an open primary on August 28th, 2012. The Chairman and Board of the Arizona Libertarian Party have voted to open the August 28, 2012 Libertarian Primary Election to members of political parties that are not entitled to continued representation on the ballot pursuant to section ARS 16-804, and to voters who are registered as independent or no party preferred.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Pathetic State of Internet Voting in the USA

Why doesn’t Internet voting have a massive following in the US, like it should?

The anti-Internet voting special interests have created a Moral Panic about it in the US. (I explain how they did it in chapters one and five, Internet Voting Now.) Those of us who see the potential for democratic reform in Internet voting can only try to chip away at the security fears they have engendered. That’s what I’ve been trying to do with my blog and my other writings.

I am not alone.  The guys who wrote reviews of my book at are strong supporters of Internet voting. Indeed, the book review pages at give an excellent insight into who populates the separate camps. See, for example, my review of the newest ant-Internet voting propaganda tract, Broken Ballots  (Don't forget to click yes if you like my review.) Take a look at the other “reviews” and comments. Nearly all the members of the opposition special interest groups are there. In fact, they are so well funded that they can even afford to have Rush Holt represent them in Congress and recommend their book. David Jefferson is their public face. The Verified Voting Foundation is their propaganda machine. They have a paid full time staff.

Advocates of Internet voting have a very modest presence on the web. Besides my blog there are …

For embedded links and the rest of the article, please go here

William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.
Twitter: wjkno1

Author of Internet Voting Now! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Como Tu, Like you, I love life, poetry and PTW

These are a few of my favorite things: Performing the World (Yes, I am reprising my Democracy session - stay tuned!!), Roque Dalton (one of my favorite poets -- h/t to Jan Wootten for this -- Roque is the progeny of a long line of American outlaws -- just doesn't get better than that for The Hankster) and estudio Espanol...!


And I like Roque Dalton.

Who do you LIKE? (Share at Performing the World.)

Like You
By Roque Dalton
Like you I
love love, life, the sweet smell
of things, the sky-
blue landscape of January days.
And my blood boils up
and I laugh through eyes
that have known the buds of tears.
I believe the world is beautiful
and that poetry, like bread, is for everyone.
And that my veins don’t end in me
but in the unanimous blood
of those who struggle for life,
little things,
landscape and bread,
the poetry of everyone.

Como Tú 

Por Roque Dalton
Yo como tú
amo el amor,
la vida,
el dulce encanto de las cosas
el paisaje celeste de los días de enero.
También mi sangre bulle
y río por los ojos
que han conocido el brote de las lágrimas.
Creo que el mundo es bello,
que la poesía es como el pan,
de todos.
Y que mis venas no terminan en mí,
sino en la sangre unánime
de los que luchan por la vida,
el amor,
las cosas,
el paisaje y el pan,
la poesía de todos.
h/t to Jan Wootten at

Unpopular Mandate -- An American Crossroads

As our elected representatives become party representatives and the parties begin a slow decline in power -- membership, identification with voters, and effectiveness in terms of representing and negotiating on behalf of the American electorate, we as a nation are indeed considering alternatives.

The health insurance debate isn't about health insurance. Nor is it about health, nor is it a debate. It's a partisan game. The kind of game that independents don't like.

Below is a thoughtful article by Ezra Klein in The New Yorker which tries to address our conflicted political and cultural moment. It is interesting article at the crossroads between politics and psyschology and culture. At the end of the day the article is talking about (without ever using the words) the culture of politics in the US and how it stifles a more developmental political process. I think that it is potentially useful in the discussion about the Obama presidency, as the article begs the question how does the current status quo change. empower independents bringing them as active players into the public dialogue.

h/t to Rich Sokolow

The Political Scene

Unpopular Mandate

Why do politicians reverse their positions?

by June 25, 2012

Republicans turned against the individual mandate after supporting it for two decades.
Republicans turned against the individual mandate after supporting it for two decades.

On March 23, 2010, the day that President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, fourteen state attorneys general filed suit against the law’s requirement that most Americans purchase health insurance, on the ground that it was unconstitutional. It was hard to find a law professor in the country who took them seriously. “The argument about constitutionality is, if not frivolous, close to it,” Sanford Levinson, a University of Texas law-school professor, told the McClatchy newspapers. Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the law school at the University of California at Irvine, told the Times, “There is no case law, post 1937, that would support an individual’s right not to buy health care if the government wants to mandate it.” Orin Kerr, a George Washington University professor who had clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy, said, “There is a less than one-per-cent chance that the courts will invalidate the individual mandate.” Today, as the Supreme Court prepares to hand down its decision on the law, Kerr puts the chance that it will overturn the mandate—almost certainly on a party-line vote—at closer to “fifty-fifty.” The Republicans have made the individual mandate the element most likely to undo the President’s health-care law. The irony is that the Democrats adopted it in the first place because they thought that it would help them secure conservative support. It had, after all, been at the heart of Republican health-care reforms for two decades.

The mandate made its political début in a 1989 Heritage Foundation brief titled “Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans,” as a counterpoint to the single-payer system and the employer mandate, which were favored in Democratic circles. In the brief, Stuart Butler, the foundation’s health-care expert, argued, “Many states now require passengers in automobiles to wear seat-belts for their own protection. Many others require anybody driving a car to have liability insurance. But neither the federal government nor any state requires all households to protect themselves from the potentially catastrophic costs of a serious accident or illness. Under the Heritage plan, there would be such a requirement.” The mandate made its first legislative appearance in 1993, in the Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act—the Republicans’ alternative to President Clinton’s health-reform bill—which was sponsored by John Chafee, of Rhode Island, and co-sponsored by eighteen Republicans, including Bob Dole, who was then the Senate Minority Leader.

After the Clinton bill, which called for an employer mandate, failed, Democrats came to recognize the opportunity that the Chafee bill had presented. In “The System,” David Broder and Haynes Johnson’s history of the health-care wars of the nineties, Bill Clinton concedes that it was the best chance he had of reaching a bipartisan compromise. “It should have been right then, or the day after they presented their bill, where I should have tried to have a direct understanding with Dole,” he said.

Ten years later, Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, began picking his way back through the history—he read “The System” four times—and he, too, came to focus on the Chafee bill. He began building a proposal around the individual mandate, and tested it out on both Democrats and Republicans. “Between 2004 and 2008, I saw over eighty members of the Senate, and there were very few who objected,” Wyden says. In December, 2006, he unveiled the Healthy Americans Act. In May, 2007, Bob Bennett, a Utah Republican, who had been a sponsor of the Chafee bill, joined him. Wyden-Bennett was eventually co-sponsored by eleven Republicans and nine Democrats, receiving more bipartisan support than any universal health-care proposal in the history of the Senate. It even caught the eye of the Republican Presidential aspirants. In a June, 2009, interview on “Meet the Press,” Mitt Romney, who, as governor of Massachusetts, had signed a universal health-care bill with an individual mandate, said that Wyden-Bennett was a plan “that a number of Republicans think is a very good health-care plan—one that we support.”

Wyden’s bill was part of a broader trend of Democrats endorsing the individual mandate in their own proposals. John Edwards and Hillary Clinton both built a mandate into their campaign health-care proposals. In 2008, Senator Ted Kennedy brought John McDonough, a liberal advocate of the Massachusetts plan, to Washington to help with health-care reform. That same year, Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, included an individual mandate in the first draft of his health-care bill. The main Democratic holdout was Senator Barack Obama. But by July, 2009, President Obama had changed his mind. “I was opposed to this idea because my general attitude was the reason people don’t have health insurance is not because they don’t want it. It’s because they can’t afford it,” he told CBS News. “I am now in favor of some sort of individual mandate.”

This process led, eventually, to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—better known as Obamacare—which also included an individual mandate. But, as that bill came closer to passing, Republicans began coalescing around the mandate, which polling showed to be one of the legislation’s least popular elements. In December, 2009, in a vote on the bill, every Senate Republican voted to call the individual mandate “unconstitutional.”

This shift—Democrats lining up behind the Republican-crafted mandate, and Republicans declaring it not just inappropriate policy but contrary to the wishes of the Founders—shocked Wyden. “I would characterize the Washington, D.C., relationship with the individual mandate as truly schizophrenic,” he said.

It was not an isolated case. In 2007, both Newt Gingrich and John McCain wanted a cap-and-trade program in order to reduce carbon emissions. Today, neither they nor any other leading Republicans support cap-and-trade. In 2008, the Bush Administration proposed, pushed, and signed the Economic Stimulus Act, a deficit-financed tax cut designed to boost the flagging economy. Today, few Republicans admit that a deficit-financed stimulus can work. Indeed, with the exception of raising taxes on the rich, virtually every major policy currently associated with the Obama Administration was, within the past decade, a Republican idea in good standing.

Jonathan Haidt, a professor of psychology at New York University’s business school, argues in a new book, “The Righteous Mind,” that to understand human beings, and their politics, you need to understand that we are descended from ancestors who would not have survived if they hadn’t been very good at belonging to groups. He writes that “our minds contain a variety of mental mechanisms that make us adept at promoting our group’s interests, in competition with other groups. We are not saints, but we are sometimes good team players.”

One of those mechanisms is figuring out how to believe what the group believes. Haidt sees the role that reason plays as akin to the job of the White House press secretary. He writes, “No matter how bad the policy, the secretary will find some way to praise or defend it. Sometimes you’ll hear an awkward pause as the secretary searches for the right words, but what you’ll never hear is: ‘Hey, that’s a great point! Maybe we should rethink this policy.’ Press secretaries can’t say that because they have no power to make or revise policy. They’re told what the policy is, and their job is to find evidence and arguments that will justify the policy to the public.” For that reason, Haidt told me, “once group loyalties are engaged, you can’t change people’s minds by utterly refuting their arguments. Thinking is mostly just rationalization, mostly just a search for supporting evidence.”

Psychologists have a term for this: “motivated reasoning,” which Dan Kahan, a professor of law and psychology at Yale, defines as “when a person is conforming their assessments of information to some interest or goal that is independent of accuracy”—an interest or goal such as remaining a well-regarded member of his political party, or winning the next election, or even just winning an argument. Geoffrey Cohen, a professor of psychology at Stanford, has shown how motivated reasoning can drive even the opinions of engaged partisans. In 2003, when he was an assistant professor at Yale, Cohen asked a group of undergraduates, who had previously described their political views as either very liberal or very conservative, to participate in a test to study, they were told, their “memory of everyday current events.”

The students were shown two articles: one was a generic news story; the other described a proposed welfare policy. The first article was a decoy; it was the students’ reactions to the second that interested Cohen. He was actually testing whether party identifications influence voters when they evaluate new policies. To find out, he produced multiple versions of the welfare article. Some students read about a program that was extremely generous—more generous, in fact, than any welfare policy that has ever existed in the United States—while others were presented with a very stingy proposal. But there was a twist: some versions of the article about the generous proposal portrayed it as being endorsed by Republican Party leaders; and some versions of the article about the meagre program described it as having Democratic support. The results showed that, “for both liberal and conservative participants, the effect of reference group information overrode that of policy content. If their party endorsed it, liberals supported even a harsh welfare program, and conservatives supported even a lavish one.”

In a subsequent study involving just self-described liberal students, Cohen gave half the group news stories that had accompanying Democratic endorsements and the other half news stories that did not. The students who didn’t get the endorsements preferred a more generous program. When they did get the endorsements, they went with their party, even if this meant embracing a meaner option.
This kind of thinking is, according to psychologists, unsurprising. Each of us can have firsthand knowledge of just a small number of topics—our jobs, our studies, our personal experiences. But as citizens—and as elected officials—we are routinely asked to make judgments on issues as diverse and as complex as the Iranian nuclear program, the environmental impact of an international oil pipeline, and the likely outcomes of branding China a “currency manipulator.”
According to the political-science literature, one of the key roles that political parties play is helping us navigate these decisions. In theory, we join parties because they share our values and our goals—values and goals that may have been passed on to us by the most important groups in our lives, such as our families and our communities—and so we trust that their policy judgments will match the ones we would come up with if we had unlimited time to study the issues. But parties, though based on a set of principles, aren’t disinterested teachers in search of truth. They’re organized groups looking to increase their power. Or, as the psychologists would put it, their reasoning may be motivated by something other than accuracy. And you can see the results among voters who pay the closest attention to the issues.

In a 2006 paper, “It Feels Like We’re Thinking,” the political scientists Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels looked at a National Election Study, a poll supported by the National Science Foundation, from 1996. One of the questions asked whether “the size of the yearly budget deficit increased, decreased, or stayed about the same during Clinton’s time as President.” The correct answer is that it decreased, dramatically. Achen and Bartels categorize the respondents according to how politically informed they were. Among the least-informed respondents, Democrats and Republicans picked the wrong answer in roughly equal numbers. But among better-informed voters the story was different. Republicans who were in the fiftieth percentile gave the right answer more often than those in the ninety-fifth percentile. Bartels found a similar effect in a previous survey, in which well-informed Democrats were asked whether inflation had gone down during Ronald Reagan’s Presidency. It had, but many of those Democrats said that it hadn’t. The more information people had, it seemed, the better they were at arranging it to fit what they wanted to believe. As Bartels told me, “If I’m a Republican and an enthusiastic supporter of lower tax rates, it is uncomfortable to recognize that President Obama has reduced most Americans’ taxes—and I can find plenty of conservative information sources that deny or ignore the fact that he has.”

Recently, Bartels noticed a similar polarization in attitudes toward the health-care law and the Supreme Court. Using YouGov polling data, he found that less-informed voters who supported the law and less-informed voters who opposed it were equally likely to say that “the Supreme Court should be able to throw out any law it finds unconstitutional.” But, among better-informed voters, those who opposed the law were thirty per cent more likely than those who supported it to cede that power to the Court. In other words, well-informed opponents realized that they needed an activist Supreme Court that was willing to aggressively overturn laws if they were to have any hope of invalidating the Affordable Care Act.

Orin Kerr says that, in the two years since he gave the individual mandate only a one-per-cent chance of being overturned, three key things have happened. First, congressional Republicans made the argument against the mandate a Republican position. Then it became a standard conservative-media position. “That legitimized the argument in a way we haven’t really seen before,” Kerr said. “We haven’t seen the media pick up a legal argument and make the argument mainstream by virtue of media coverage.” Finally, he says, “there were two conservative district judges who agreed with the argument, largely echoing the Republican position and the media coverage. And, once you had all that, it really became a ballgame.”

Jack Balkin, a Yale law professor, agrees. “Once Republican politicians say this is unconstitutional, it gets repeated endlessly in the partisan media that’s friendly to the Republican Party”—Fox News, conservative talk radio, and the like—“and, because this is now the Republican Party’s position, the mainstream media needs to repeatedly explain the claims to their readers. That further moves the arguments from off the wall to on the wall, because, if you’re reading articles in the Times describing the case against the mandate, you assume this is a live controversy.” Of course, Balkin says, “if the courts didn’t buy this, it wouldn’t get anywhere.”

But the courts are not as distant from the political process as some like to think. The first judge to rule against the individual mandate was Judge Henry Hudson, of Virginia’s Eastern District Court. Hudson was heavily invested in a Republican consulting firm called Campaign Solutions, Inc. The company had worked with the Presidential campaigns of John McCain and George W. Bush, the Republican National Committee, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and Ken Cuccinelli—the Virginia state attorney general who is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuits against the Affordable Care Act.
The fact that a judge—even a partisan judge in a district court—had ruled that a central piece of a Democratic President’s signature legislative accomplishment was unconstitutional led the news across the country. Hudson’s ruling was followed by a similar, and even more sweeping, ruling, by Judge Roger Vinson, of the Northern District of Florida. Vinson declared the entire bill unconstitutional, setting off a new round of stories. The twin rulings gave conservatives who wanted to believe that the mandate was unconstitutional more reason to hold that belief. Voters who hadn’t thought much about it now heard that judges were ruling against the Administration. Vinson and Hudson were outnumbered by other district judges who either upheld the law or threw out lawsuits against it, but those rulings were mostly ignored.

At the Washington Monthly, Steve Benen kept track of the placement that the Times and the Washington Post (where I work) gave to stories about court rulings on the health-care law. When judges ruled against the law, they got long front-page stories. When they ruled for it, they got shorter stories, inside the paper. Indeed, none of the cases upholding the law got front-page coverage, but every rejection of it did, and usually in both papers. From an editorial perspective, that made sense: the Vinson and Hudson rulings called into question the law’s future; the other rulings signalled no change. But the effect was repeated news stories in which the Affordable Care Act was declared unconstitutional, and few news stories representing the legal profession’s consensus that it was not. The result can be seen in a March poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which found that fifty-one per cent of Americans think that the mandate is unconstitutional.

What is notable about the conservative response to the individual mandate is not only the speed with which a legal argument that was considered fringe in 2010 had become mainstream by 2012; it’s the implication that the Republicans spent two decades pushing legislation that was in clear violation of the nation’s founding document. Political parties do go through occasional, painful cleansings, in which they emerge with different leaders who hold different positions. This was true of Democrats in the nineteen-nineties, when Bill Clinton passed free trade, deficit reduction, and welfare reform, despite the furious objections of liberals. But in this case the mandate’s supporters simply became its opponents.

In February, 2012, Stuart Butler, the author of the Heritage Foundation brief that first proposed the mandate, wrote an op-ed for USA Today in which he recanted that support. “I’ve altered my views on many things,” he wrote. “The individual mandate in health care is one of them.” Senator Orrin Hatch, who had been a co-sponsor of the Chafee bill, emerged as one of the mandate’s most implacable opponents in 2010, writing in The Hill that to come to “any other conclusion” than that the mandate is unconstitutional “requires treating the Constitution as the servant, rather than the master, of Congress.” Mitt Romney, who had both passed an individual mandate as governor and supported Wyden-Bennett, now calls Obama’s law an “unconstitutional power grab from the states,” and has promised, if elected, to begin repealing the law “on Day One.”

Even Bob Bennett, who was among the most eloquent advocates of the mandate, voted, in 2009, to call it unconstitutional. “I’d group us”—Senate Republicans—“into three categories,” he says. “There were people like me, who bought onto the mandate because it made sense and would work, and we were reluctant to let go of it. Then, there were people who bought onto it slowly, for political advantage, and were immediately willing to abandon it as soon as the political advantage went the other way. And then there’s a third group that thought it made sense and then thought it through and changed their minds.” Explaining his decision to vote against the law, Bennett, who was facing a Tea Party challenger in a primary, says, “I didn’t focus on the particulars of the amendment as closely as I should have, and probably would have voted the other way if I had understood that the individual mandate was at its core. I just wanted to express my opposition to the Obama proposal at every opportunity.” He was defeated in the primary, anyway.

But, whatever the motives of individual politicians, the end result was the same: a policy that once enjoyed broad support within the Republican Party suddenly faced unified opposition—opposition that was echoed, refined, and popularized by other institutions affiliated with the Party. This is what Jason Grumet, the president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, a group that tried to encourage Republicans and Democrats to unite around policy solutions, calls the “think-tank industrial complex”—the network of ideologically oriented research centers that drive much of the policy debate in Washington. As Senator Olympia Snowe, of Maine, who has announced that she is leaving the Senate because of the noxious political climate, says, “You can find a think tank to buttress any view or position, and then you can give it the aura of legitimacy and credibility by referring to their report.” And, as we’re increasingly able to choose our information sources based on their tendency to back up whatever we already believe, we don’t even have to hear the arguments from the other side, much less give them serious consideration. Partisans who may not have strong opinions on the underlying issues thus get a clear signal on what their party wants them to think, along with reams of information on why they should think it.

All this suggests that the old model of compromise is going to have a very difficult time in today’s polarized political climate. Because it’s typically not in the minority party’s interest to compromise with the majority party on big bills—elections are a zero-sum game, where the majority wins if the public thinks it has been doing a good job—Washington’s motivated-reasoning machine is likely to kick into gear on most major issues. “Reasoning can take you wherever you want to go,” Haidt warns. “Can you see your way to an individual mandate, if it’s a way to fight single payer? Sure. And so, when it was strategically valuable Republicans could believe it was constitutional and good. Then Obama proposes the idea. And then the question becomes not ‘Can you believe in this?’ but ‘Must you believe it?’ ”

And that means that you can’t assume that policy-based compromises that made sense at the beginning will survive to the end, because by that time whichever group has an interest in not compromising will likely have convinced itself that the compromise position is an awful idea—even if, just a few years ago, that group thought it was a great one. “The basic way you wanted to put together a big deal five years ago is that the thoughtful minds in one party would basically go off and write a bill that had seventy per cent of their orthodoxy and thirty per cent of the other side’s orthodoxy and try to use that to peel off five or six senators from the other side,” Grumet says. “That process just doesn’t work anymore.” The remarkable and confusing trajectory of the individual-mandate debate, in other words, could simply be the new norm.

I asked Ron Wyden how, if politicians can so easily be argued out of their policy preferences, compromise was possible. “I don’t find it easy to answer that question, because I’m an elected official and not a psychiatrist,” he said. “If somebody says they sincerely changed their minds, then so be it.” But Wyden is, as always, optimistic about the next bipartisan deal, and, again, he thinks he knows just where to start. “To bring about bipartisanship, it’s going to be necessary to win on something people can see and understand. That’s why I think tax reform is a huge opportunity for the economy and the cause of building coalitions.” Perhaps he’s right. Or perhaps that’s just what he wants to believe.

Read more

Monday, June 18, 2012

More News of the Day for Independent Voters - June 18

  • President Obama’s Cleveland speech: An independent appeal (Posted by Chris CillizzA, Washington Post/The Fix) President Obama’s speech on the economy Thursday in Cleveland made one thing plain: He and his political team believe that the two parties’ bases are entirely cemented — either for or against him — and the path to victory lies with a tiny sliver of people who remain on the fence about which party is a better for them.
  • In Focus Group, Independent Voters Souring on Obama (by Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast) They backed him last time, but now say they see the president as a weak leader. Five months from Election Day, can the White House hear the harsh message pollsters are sending? 
  • Arizona Libertarian Party Opens Primary to Independent Voters (by Jim Iannuzo, The Libertarian Solution) Our Presidential candidate, Gary Johnson, is actively trying to reach more libertarian-minded independents through his 2012 presidential campaign. The Libertarian Party continues to be the voice of reason, freedom and independent thought in American Politics.

Hankster News of the Day for Independent Voters - June 18

  • Obama Could Lose Independent Voters This Time (Posted by JOE GANDELMAN, Editor-In-Chief, The Moderate Voice) So Obama has to win these voters back — and the issue is clearly the economy. There’s an opening, too, for Romney if he can build on the general impression voters have of him as a good businessman, and “make voters feel comfortable that he’s not going to dismantle everything we have,” says Hart, when it comes to health care and other social support programs. And this anecdotal finding has to be the most utterly devastating one at all for Obama — something he’ll need to fix soon (if he can)
  • As Oklahoma’s June 26 primary nears, GOP and Independents surge, Democrats’ registration advantage continues to erode (Patrick B. McGuigan, CapitolBeatOK) Ziriax’s staff has unveiled new data for the Sooner State’s 2,030,073 registered voters. In all 46.45 percent of voters are Democrats, 46.45 percent of the total. Republican strength is now nearly 42 percent of the electorate – 851,759 voters, or 41.96 percent of the total. Independents are 11.59 percent of voters, a total of 235,321.
  • In Focus Group, Independent Voters Souring on Obama (by Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast) “The whole platform was hope—I don’t feel any more hope today,” he said. Pressed by Hart as to which candidate he was leaning toward, Jeffrey said the tenor of the campaign turned him off, that he felt like he was in the middle of a weird argument between a husband and wife, and all he wanted to do was leave the room. “I don’t even know if I’m going to vote this time,” he said glumly.
  • Politics over democracy (By the Sierra Vista Herald) Once again we find the Arizona Legislature at odds with both the principles of the Republican party and putting its priority on political power over democratic representation...
  • Redistricting Primer: Why New Lines Matter in Battle for House Control (By: Christina Bellantoni, PBS News Hour) The decennial redistricting phenomenon might sound boring, but it's not. Roll Call's longtime politics editor Lauren Whittington tried to convince me of that when I first joined the paper as her deputy in 2010. I was doubtful at first, but it turned out she was right.
  • Let voters have a say in redistricting reform (By DICK DADEY, Commentary, Albany Times Union) Opportunities to enact redistricting reform have been squandered time and again, regardless of which party controlled the state Senate. Despite 184 legislators claiming to support an independent process for 2012, we learned that for too many legislators, where they stood on the issue of redistricting reform depended more on where they sat — in the majority or the minority — than on any true desire for reform. Had an independent redistricting commission been in place before lines were drawn, with appointees balanced among the four legislative leaders, we might not have seen the partisan action of the state Senate increasing its size to 63 seats or drawing lines that divide minority communities on Long Island.
  • The Wrong Way to Fix California (Steven Greenhut, Bloomberg/View) California desperately needs courageous leaders with innovative ideas. Unfortunately, the new “top two” primary system, which went into effect for the June 5 election, is a step toward rewarding careerist politicians who tout the same old status-quo solutions.
  • INDEPENDENT SPARK FLARES AT BALLOT BOX (By Ted Waitt,UT- San Diego NOTE: This article ran on IVN 6/14/12) A vote for an independent candidate is no longer mere symbolism. congratulates California’s courageous independent candidates Linda Parks, Chad Condit, Chad Walsh and Nathan Fletcher. Through each of their campaigns, these leaders proved one common reality: Independent, nonparty candidates are now legitimate competitors in American politics. The “centrist majority” has been awakened, and the match has been struck. Each race from California’s June 5 primary election tells this story in a different way: In the case of Chad Walsh for California Assembly, Walsh will advance to the November general election by pulling a truly remarkable showing of 45 percent of votes against his entrenched party opponent, a longtime politician with enormous name identification.
  • King wants pledge against superPACS - Other candidates give cool response (By Tom Bell, Kennebec Journal) Maine's U.S. Senate candidates apparently won't follow the example being set in Massachusetts' high-profile Senate race for diminishing the influence of third-party groups. Independent candidate Angus King sent a letter to his five opponents Wednesday morning asking them to forgo the benefit of expenditures made by outside organizations on their behalf.
  • DSCC chairwoman won’t say which Maine Senate candidate she backs (By Josh Lederman, The Hill/Ballot Box) Democrats continue to play coy about their plans in Maine, where former Gov. Angus King — an independent — is the early front-runner in the race. Snowe’s unexpected announcement in February that she would retire created Democrats’ strongest pickup opportunity — until King jumped into the race. Both parties suspect King will caucus with Democrats if elected, but King has adamantly refused to telegraph his intentions. His decision could determine the balance of power in a closely divided Senate in 2013.
  • Candidate Steve Woods Offers Endorsement to Angus King (By Steve Woods For US Senate, Sac Bee) teve Woods, an Independent candidate now certified to appear on the November 6th, election ballot for the United States Senate representing Maine, announced today that he will be joining Angus King in publically stating that he will not play the "spoiler" in the November election.
  • Maine Senate Race Scrambled by Strong Independent Candidate (ABC News, Elizabeth Hartfield) Two candidates emerged victorious from a crowded field in Maine’s Senate primary on Tuesday. Republicans nominated Charlie Summers, the Secretary of State, from a group of six potential candidates, and Democrats nominated Cynthia Dill, a state Senator from the South Portland area, from a group of four potential candidates. But the frontrunner is generally considered to be Angus King, a former governor who is running as an Independent.
  • Independent voters on the rise nationwide (The Oklahoman Editorial) However, in Oklahoma voters are moving to the Republican Party more than they are to independent status. Democrat numbers are declining. As of June 1, around 46 percent of Oklahoma voters were Democrats, nearly 42 percent were Republicans and 11 percent were independents.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Harry Kresky: Wisconsin and California: Past and Prologue

NOTE: This Harry Kresky article comes with a High-Five recommendation from The Hankster! Please read and re-read fully. I might add -- The past is closer than you think; let's change it now. - NH

Wisconsin and California: Past and Prologue

The future is harder to see than the past. The Wisconsin recall campaign was, in many respects, a story about the past -- the century-long clash between labor and capital, which surely has a 21st-century post-modern form, but is nonetheless still framed as a battle between competing ideologies and organized interests. Is there a way out of that deadlock?
For my money, the most interesting feature of the Wisconsin results was what happened with independents. Exit polling showed 53 percent of them backed Republican Governor Scott Walker, resisting the pleas of organized labor and Democrats to use their vote to repudiate the attacks on public-sector employees. At the same time, though, 56 percent of independents say they plan to vote for President Obama in November. In partisan terms, these results might seem contradictory. But contradictions are often signs of a new politic taking hold. In this case, independents -- largely unorganized but frustrated with partisanship on both sides -- are the force behind the drive to find, or create, something new.

That same day, June 6, Californians went to the polls in the first full-scale election since the adoption by referendum of the Top Two primary system. Under this new nonpartisan system, all voters and all candidates, regardless of party affiliation or non-affiliation, participate on an equal footing. The top two finishers go on to compete head to head in the November election. Washington State has a similar system, and an effort is underway to bring Top Two to Arizona. Independent voters and candidates who are newly empowered in this system emerged as crucial players in this nonpartisan system. And here we get a glimpse of the political future.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle's post-election headline, "Top 2 Shakes up State." The results of California's first Top Two primary saw some small happenings that express a fundamental shift that is taking place in the U.S. electorate, where 40 percent of Americans now self-identify as independents. The possibilities latent in that shift have so far been contained by the closed primary system in effect in most states, where party members choose the candidates who appear on the November ballot and partisan redistricting assures that the winner of the primary of the majority party wins, thus deciding the election before most voters, including independents, get to vote. In these circumstances, the influence of independent voters has been minimized, except in competitive statewide races where these "swing" voters can still determine which of the two partisan candidates will win.

Top Two changes that dynamic. Under a Top two system, independent voters become an important factor in the first round. As a result of primaries in four of California's 53 Congressional districts, one of the two candidates on the general election ballot in November will be an independent. The other will be a Democrat or Republican. Will we see coalitions of independents and voters who identify with the party (or parties) not on the ballot block to win the general election? Perhaps. In a state where over 20 percent of voters are independents, every candidate must try to appeal to independent voters.

In the 15th Congressional District (which includes Oakland, a Democratic Party stronghold) 40-year incumbent Pete Stark, a hardcore Democrat, faced off against insurgent Democrat Eric Swalwell. In round one, Stark got 42 percent, Swalwell, 36 percent and independent Christopher Pareja, 22 percent. Under the old system, Stark's success in the Democratic Party primary, no matter how close, would have assured him of success in November. Independents now have a role to play in a choosing which Democrat will win. In the 24th Congressional District, Republican Abel Maldonado, a key leader in the effort that brought Top Two to California, will face off against a Democrat. The support of independents helped propel him to round two.

Jason Olson of California's IndependentVoice.Org, who worked to mobilize independent voters in several congressional districts, had this to say: "Under the Top Two Open Primary independent voters played a significant role in shaping the choices in the November election. And we have seen the emergence of organized forces of independent voters working to leverage our agenda. Independents are no longer forced to choose between candidates selected by the partisan Democrats and Republican who vote in closed primary elections. And the fact that the general elections will now be competitive, even in areas where one party is dominant, means that independents will have even more clout."

The Los Angeles Times deadpanned after the primary, "Tuesday's election made clear that the promised political earthquake will have to wait." An earthquake? Perhaps not. A sea change? You bet.
Follow Harry Kresky on Twitter: 
Posted: 06/15/2012 2:49 pm on HuffPo 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hankster News of the Day for Independent Voters June 14

  • Women, Indies give Obama PA lead in new poll (Philadelphia Inquirer) In Tuesday’s poll, women back Obama 51 percent to 36 percent in Pennsylvania, while men narrowly favor Romney, 44 percent to 40 percent. Obama is leading 43 percent to 35 percent among independent voters, the poll finds.
  • June 12, 2012 - Women Give Obama 6-Point Lead In Pennsylvania, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Gov. Corbett Job Approval At Lowest Point Ever (Quinnipiac) With strong support from women and independent voters, President Barack Obama leads Gov. Mitt Romney 46 - 40 among Pennsylvania voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Romney would do a better job on the economy, voters say 49 - 41 percent.
  • Quinnipiac: Obama up 6 in Pennsylvania (By ALEXANDER BURNS, Politico/ Burns & Haberman) Winning women by a big margin, leveraging likability, keeping the jobs debate close — that's the formula we've repeatedly seen in polls that show the president ahead. Of course, Pennsylvania is also a Democratic-leaning state, so Obama can accomplish all those goals and still end up in a toss-up race in a place like, say, Virginia.

Independent Voters Crucial To SD Mayor Race -- Movement To The Middle Group Endorsed Independent Candidate Nathan Fletcher (10 News - San Diego) In April, a group of local businessmen and women announced they were changing their political affiliation to independent. This came after Fletcher left the Republican Party.

Maine independent out to shake up U.S. Senate -- Former Gov. Angus King is bringing a stridently anti-partisan message to the battle for control of the U.S. Senate — and going into Tuesday's primary, polls show he's leading all potential rivals. (By Ed O'Keefe, The Washington Post in Seattle Times) It will depend on the terms, however. "What does 'join a caucus' mean? Does it mean casting one vote to organize the Senate and then you're on your own? Or does it mean you have to truly join the caucus, go to the meetings and participate fully or you lose your committee assignments?" he asked. "How the parties handle that with me is going to have a significant influence on my decision." And if a voter insists he needs to pick a party before November, King said, "I'll tell them to vote for someone else."

  • NY’s conservative triumph (New York Post) Tonight [Wednesday], the nation’s most successful third party, the Conservative Party of New York, celebrate its 50th anniversary with a gala dinner at the Sheraton in Manhattan.
  • Meng Joins Vallone To Go After ‘Untouchable’ Antennas (John Toscano, Queens Gazette) State Independence Party Chairman Frank MacKay said in his endorsement of Ulrich: “He has been an outstanding representative in the city council and I know he will take the same independent leadership to Albany.”… Halloran stated, “I ask the president to take time away from his busy schedule raising thousands to actually address the issues that New York City faces. But I’m sure that he’ll spend his time on Broadway raking in cash from Manhattan elites instead of crossing the bridges into the outer boroughs.”

Shifting the Economic Narrative (Democracy Corps - Carville Greenberg Focus Group) With the economy faltering, we conducted fairly open-ended focus groups among white non-college-educated voters in Columbus, Ohio and college-educated suburban voters in suburban Philadelphia.  We excluded strong partisans from both camps.  These were all independents or weak partisans and ticket-splitters—swing independent voters—and the groups included an even mix of 2008 Obama and McCain voters.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hankster News of the Day for Independent Voters June 13: Open Primaries Wave of the Future

Bill Hillsman should campaign for open primaries...

Judgment still awaits on 'Top Two' primary success (MODESTO BEE) This was a low-turnout primary. For that and other reasons, we won't know if redistricting reform and "top two" will produce lasting and worthwhile change for several election cycles. But it will be interesting to watch — another reason for voters to pay attention.


OUR OPINION: Primary system needs to reflect political reality - Most Maine voters unenrolled, independent candidates routine (Kennebec Journal) Maine could benefit from an open primary system that makes the final vote a race between two candidates, with the winner getting more than half the vote.

California Top Two Primary Roundup – Quotables from the Political Media (Independent Voters of America)
NOTE: Top article here is Jason Olson's Independent Thoughts on CA's Primary Results on IVN

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Round-Up: California's First "Top Two" Primary Yields Less Party Control, More Independent Participation

Media coverage of California's first "Top Two" primary last week was somewhat varied, most grumbling about how it didn't produce the results that was hoped for and locked out 3rd parties...

Notable exception from Jason Olson, an activist with in IVN: "[Last Tuesday's] vote showed what removing party control over the elections can do. We had a primary process that was about selecting the best leader to move California forward, rather than who was the best partisan to fight for their party. [F]ive independent (“No Party Preference”) candidates running for the California Legislature placed in the “top two” of their respective races and will advance to the general election to face an incumbent. Top Two Open Primary champion Abel Maldonado (R) will also advance.

The Hankster is a strong backer of Top Two, Open Primaries and Nonpartisan Municipal Elections and has campaigned vigorously for all.

Here is a round-up of commentary on California's primary last Tuesday:
  • Independent Thoughts on CA’s Primary Results (By Jason Olson, IVN) Congratulations again to the voters who supported the Top Two Open Primary and Redistricting Reform measures in past elections. Yesterday’s vote showed what removing party control over the elections can do. We had a primary process that was about selecting the best leader to move California forward, rather than who was the best partisan to fight for their party.
  • Dems dismayed by Assembly shutout (Written by Sean Janssen, The Union Democrat) Democratic Party leaders throughout the State Assembly 5th District were in a sour mood Wednesday as their party will have no representative on the Nov. 6 ballot for the legislative seat. Though there had been a handful of special elections for vacant offices in the state since voters approved the Proposition 14 “top two” primary in November 2010, Tuesday’s primary marked the first regular statewide election using the system.
  • California’s Open Primary Costs Super-PAC $711,000 on Just One Race (By Ellen Uchimiya,
    Bloomberg/ Political Capital) That cash infusion seemed to help. Brownley and Strickland advanced after Tuesday’s primary. If this had been a closed primary, Brownley would have advanced anyway… and the House Majority PAC would have saved $711,000.
  • Herdt: An election to confound Will Rogers (By Timm Herdt, Ventura County Star) Parties have infrastructure. Independents, who have to build their campaigns from scratch, don't stand much of a chance of competing against that — unless, like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, they have bottomless personal wealth.
  • California's election reform flops (By Joe Mathews, LA Times) Oh, well, But give the reformers credit; they did make change. In place of our old system, we got something that preserves many of our worst political traditions — while making things a little bit worse.
  • California Dreaming: Why New Election Rules Won't Help Centrists (By Josh Kraushaar, National Journal/ Hotline On Call) Two national newspapers today reach dramatically different conclusions about the impact of California's new top-two election system, which was designed to help elect more centrists and undermine the party primary system that had long been in place. The New York Times concludes the open, non partisan primary served as a "splash of cold water" to those reformers who thought it would "bring a new wave of independent candidates and voters." The Wall Street Journal concluded the system worked, because finalists "now must search for support from independents and voters in other parties." Who's right?
  • California Centrists See Their Stock Rise Open-Primary Results Show That Finalists Now Must Search for Support From Independents and Voters in Other Parties (By JIM CARLTON and JUSTIN SCHECK, Associated Press, Wall Street Journal) The state still leans heavily Democratic, with 43% of voters registered as Democrats in April, compared with 30% as Republicans and 21% with no party preference—up from 14% who said they were impartial 12 years ago. Appealing to those in the middle now becomes more crucial for candidates like Lois Capps, a liberal-leaning Democratic congresswoman from the state's Central Coast. Before, she rarely needed to reach out to conservative Republicans, said Bill Carrick, her campaign strategist. But after a centrist Republican named Abel Maldonado challenged her in a runoff, Mr. Carrick said Ms. Capps would reach out to the GOP base.
  • Fletcher: No regrets after loss about leaving GOP (By JULIE WATSON, Associated Press, San Francisco Chronicle) New York Times columnist David Brooks called his bid a nationwide test case on whether it's possible to succeed as an independent alternative. That didn't happen Tuesday.
  • California’s Nonpartisan Primary Shows Independents to Be in Short Supply (By JENNIFER MEDINA, New York Times) David Wasserman, who analyzes House races for The Cook Political Report, called the outcome in San Bernardino a “freak political accident,” particularly because President Obama is likely to win the area by as much as a double-digit margin.
  • California electoral reforms yield no big changes (By JULIET WILLIAMS, Associated Press, San Francisco Chronicle) Voters mostly rejected the independent and moderate candidates that the changes were intended to bolster to reduce partisanship, instead sending nearly every state legislative and congressional incumbent forward to runoffs in November, in some cases against opponents in their own party. A few races remained too close to call Wednesday.
  • How California’s Top-Two Open Primary Shrinks Voter Choice in Congressional Races in November (Ballot Access News) The San Francisco Chronicle’s story about the election returns is that the top-two system “shook up the system.” Actually, in every single congressional race in which one incumbent was running, that incumbent came in first. In the races with two incumbents running against each other due to redistricting, one of the incumbents always came in first and the other incumbent always came in second. As has been shown in Louisiana and Washington, top-two systems make it far easier for incumbents to be re-elected than normal systems do.
  • Shift in voting rules shakes up primary elections (Carla Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle) Californians were also voting for the first time for candidates vying to represent legislative and congressional districts drawn up not by gerrymandering politicians or the courts, but by a citizens' commission - the result of a ballot measure that voters passed in 2008, Proposition 11. Stark was one of several incumbents once considered invincible and now thought to be in danger of losing their jobs in redrawn districts.
  • California voters mixed about new top-two primary (By Jim Sanders, Sac Bee) The new system also gives more clout to no-party-preference voters, whose ranks have jumped from 10.7 percent of California's electorate in 1996 to 21.3 percent today. Republican Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria, as a state senator, forced the top-two primary onto the 2010 ballot by making it one of several demands to Democratic legislative leaders in return for his pivotal vote to end an 81-day budget impasse in 2009.
  • Independent Overview: CA Primary Preliminary Results (By Damon Eris, IVN) With 100% of precincts now reporting, it appears that California’s first statewide test of its new top two open primary system did not result in higher levels of voter turnout, as had been predicted by supporters of the system. Indeed, this primary election may be noteworthy for its historically low voter turnout in a presidential election year. Preliminary reports indicate that voter turnout across the state hovered in the 30-35% range, with the vast majority of eligible voters opting to stay home rather than head to the polls.
  • California primary results: GOP catches a ‘top-two’ break (Posted by Aaron Blake, Washington Post/The Fix by Chris Cillizza) House Republicans got a big break under California’s new primary system Tuesday, after Democrats failed to get a candidate into the general election for Rep. Gary Miller’s (R-Calif.) swing district.
  • As We See It: The independent party's over (EDITORIAL Santa Cruz Sentinel) California voters sent a crushing message to minor parties in 2010 when they approved the open primary for Tuesday's election. Because the new system sends the top two finishers in state races, regardless of party affiliation, onto the November ballot, this effectively ends the chances of the Green, Libertarian, American Independent and Peace and Freedom parties in those elections… Third parties nationally and minor parties in California have a purpose: To bring independent ideas and candidates to public attention. Their presence has been severely diminished, and it's a loss.
  • Brad Breithaupt: Third parties left out of new 'top-two' primary (By Brad Breithaupt, Marin Independent Journal) With a dozen candidates running for Congress and seven vying for Assembly, voters hardly were denied a choice on the June 5 ballot. There was a variety of experience and politics to choose from, even though most of the candidates were Democrats.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Congrats to California Voters on First Top Two!

More Hankster News of the Day for Independent Voters - June 11

  • With Political Polarization at All-Time High, Americans Say 'Listen to Me' (TRANSCRIPT PBS NewsHour - Judy Woodruff, Andrew Kohut, Linda Killian and others) ANDREW KOHUT: Almost all of the increase that we see occurred not gradually over the past 25 years, but in the past 10 years, that is to say during the administrations of George W. Bush and now Barack Obama.
  • Hyper-partisanship dragging down nation (By John Avlon, CNN Contributor) It's not your imagination: Our politics are more polarized than at any point in recent history. That's the conclusion of a new survey from the indispensable Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. And if you needed more evidence of the passionate and sometimes poisonous polarization afflicting our nation, you didn't have to look further than the crowds in Wisconsin on Tuesday night after the recall attempt.
  • Why Everyone Under 40 Should Be an Independent Voter (Bill Hillsman, Huffington Post) It's sad to say, but if you're under 40, you've probably never experienced functional American politics since the time you started to pay attention to politics... if you pay attention to politics. (And it's hard to blame you if you don't).
  • Politics 2012: Partisanship at 20 paces (United Press International, Independents also have become more diverse since 2000, with 67 percent of independents saying they are non-Hispanic whites, down 12 percentage points from 2000. The proportion of independents who are Hispanic has nearly doubled -- from 9 percent to 16 percent -- in the same period.
  • Open primary 'business as usual,' observers say (Stephanie Snyder - North County Times/California Watch) "It's business as usual," said Scott Lay, a political blogger and Community College League of California president and CEO. "If you look at the actual results in most districts, it could have been a regular primary." Although the strict definition of moderate, liberal and conservative often is difficult to pinpoint, in some races it was clear that the most ideological candidates advanced to November. That was the case in the Assembly districts that cover San Bernardino County and Irvine.
    GOP Lawmakers Sue Redistricting Commission (Story By Andrea Kelly, Arizona Public Media) In the lawsuit, the top Republicans in the Arizona House and Senate say the Redistricting Commission is in violation of the U.S. Constitution because it removes part of the Legislature’s authority to conduct congressional elections.
  • The Rise of the independent voter revolution and what Arizona can learn from California Open Primary elections (by Dee Dee Garcia Blase, Tucson Citizen) The California Open Primaries has helped a much needed Mexican-American candidate of California via Abel Maldonado.  I like Abel.  He didn’t demonize Mexican immigrants in order to get ahead and am especially glad to see more Mexican-American leadership. WITH JASON OLSON'S ARTICLE
  • pleased with independent candidate Mike Stauffer shedding light for open primaries (by Dee Dee Garcia Blase, Tucson Citizen) Dear Mike, I was very pleased to learn that you are a strong supporter of the Top Two Open Primary initiative, and wish you luck in your independent campaign for Maricopa County Sheriff. As you know, is a training and strategy center for the growing independent movement, working with independents around the country in support of structural political reforms that can bring more nonpartisan governance. We have been actively supporting the Top Two Open Primary initiative organized by the Open Elections/Open Government coalition.
  • Redistricting lawsuit a slap in your face (Laurie Roberts, Arizona Republic) Politics is still front and center in the process. (It was probably naive to think that the parties -- both parties -- would behave themselves and butt out.) And clearly the committee is too small for today's Arizona, underrepresenting the independents who comprise a third of the state's electorate. But it's still better than having congressional and legislative districts drawn in the basement of the Capitol by legislators who, let's face it, have a lot riding on where those lines are drawn.
  • Results of poll help to explain partisanship (Yuma Sun) The latest party registration numbers from the Office of the Arizona Secretary of State, which oversees Arizona election procedures, showed a similar breakdown as those recorded by the Pew center. According to numbers issued in March, there were 1,134,094 active Republicans registered in the state, 952,907 Democrats and 1,037,007 “other” — which means they claimed no preferred party and are therefore considered independent voters. A number of other minor political parties totaled less than 30,000.
  • Kathleen Curry, Former Colorado Legislator Who Switched to Independent and was Barred from the Ballot, Will Try Again (Ballot Access News) She is running as an independent again this year, and she should have no trouble getting on the ballot.
  • US Federal Justice Department Steps in to Stop Florida Voter Purge (By Timothy Troutner, IVN) The truth is somewhere in between, and it is not comforting. Election laws are not the unmovable guidelines voters believe them to be. They are tools in the hands of the party in power. Right now, the Republicans hold the power in Florida, and the Democrats hold the power at the Justice Department. This dispute is not about fair and just elections; it is about the power to determine who can vote. The reason the Florida voter purge is so contested is that it may affect the outcome of the election. Independent voters and voters in general are left behind as the two parties battle it out.
  • King counts on Independent status to propel him to victory in November (Written by Craig Lyons,
    Portland ME Daily Sun) King said if Snowe left office to travel or try a new career, he wouldn't have thought much of it. But, he said, since she left because of the political climate in Washington, and complaints of partisan division, he couldn't sit back and do nothing.
    Given that partisanship has contributed significantly to the deadlock in Washington, King said he's in a unique position as an Independent.
  • Primaries not energizing voters - Absentee ballot numbers suggest a very low turnout, even though U.S. Senate finalists are being chosen. (By John Richardson, State House Bureau, Maine Sunday Telegram) Although voters may still be trying to make up their minds, some election officials say the public just doesn't seem interested in the state and congressional primaries, even though Tuesday's vote is the first step in electing Maine's next U.S. senator. Ten Democrats and Republicans are on the ballots seeking their party's nomination for the seat.
  • Is This Maine Independent the Solution to Our Partisan Woes? (By David Rohde, The Atlantic) King, a former Democrat who now rejects both Republican and Democratic dogma, is either an anachronism or a sign that some voters are tiring of partisanship. Keep in mind that a record number of Americans -- 40 percent -- identified themselves as independent in a January Gallup poll; 31 percent identified as Democrats and 27 percent as Republicans.
  • Hakeem Jeffries Says 'No, Thank You' to Bloomberg-Backed Charter School PAC (By Jamie Schuh, Bed-Stuy Patch) Jeffries campaign spokeswoman Lupe Todd told the Daily News today that their campaign doesn’t believe that groups like StudentsFirstNY, which is run by a former Albany lobbyist for Mayor Bloomberg, should be involved in the race at all.

Hankster News of the Day for Independent Voters - June 11

  • Independents Call for Congressional Hearings on Disenfranchisement (By Damon Eris, IVN) The campaign for Congressional hearings on these and similar issues by Independent Voting has already begun to gain some traction among members of Congress. One supporter is Republican Rep. Michael Grimm from New York City. In a letter to Trent Franks, the Chair of the Subcommittee on the Constitution in the House Judiciary Committee, Grimm stated his support for hearings on what IndependentVoting is calling the “second class status” of Independent voters. His letter noted a number of the barriers faced by Independents.
  • Indie voters get to have their say (Mike Nichols, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) It's much more than dissatisfaction with the issues, though, that drives independents away from the parties nowadays. Identifying yourself as a member of a party immediately turns a conversation into a "flamefest," said Alexander Vogel, a 26-year-old Beloit guy standing outside Central Christian Church, a polling spot on Milwaukee Road. "It's like, 'You are of the opposite party. I must argue with you. We must disagree'," he said.
  • Historic third party voter legislation introduced in City Council (Hassan Giordano, Baltimore Independent Examiner) But one of the more interesting pieces of legislation, which was being offered up for the first time last night by 14th District Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, and co-sponsored by the entire city council; was a measure that would allow for third party voters to be appointed to local boards and commissions – a political luxury not offered to any voter not registered with the Democratic or Republican parties.
  • Why Every Woman Should Be an Independent Voter (Bill Hillsman, Huffington Post) What's a woman to do? Become a free agent. Until the Democrats stop taking you for granted and the Republicans stop trying to dictate to you, assert your independence. Join us at Independent Voters of America today.
  • 3 Reasons Why Split-Ticket Voting Might be the Right Thing To Do (Susan Kraykowski, Policymic) Politics is not very scientific – except, perhaps, in polling methodology. What is scientific about glad-handing one’s way along a rope line or eating whatever is shoved in one’s face with a smile for the camera? Politics is more of an art form or social experiment than scientific study.
  • Is This Maine Independent the Solution to Our Partisan Woes? (The Atlantic, David Rohde) King, a former Democrat who now rejects both Republican and Democratic dogma, is either an anachronism or a sign that some voters are tiring of partisanship. Keep in mind that a record number of Americans -- 40 percent -- identified themselves as independent in a January Gallup poll; 31 percent identified as Democrats and 27 percent as Republicans. 
  • Prop 14 Pushes Independent Candidates into General Elections (By Faith Eischen, IVN) There will be four independent candidates among the congressional elections in November and one Independent candidate running in the state assembly election for District 28. All face Republican or Democratic opponents. The CA open primary results prove to be a successful way in breaking the past, partisan-dominant electoral process.
  • The Fletcher experiment fails (By ALEXANDER BURNS, Politico/Burns & Haberman) I’m late in catching up to this, but one of the important, lower-profile races on Tuesday was the San Diego mayoral primary, which resulted in the 2012 cycle’s latest setback for independent, nonpartisan politics. State Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, who left the GOP to seek the mayor’s office as an independent, came in third in the open primary behind Republican City Councilman Carl DeMaio and Democratic Rep. Bob Filner.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Hankster News of the Day for Independents - June 6

  • Meet the OutFront Political Strike Team (CNN/OutFront)'s Omar H. Ali is #2 - right after John Avlon, team also includes David Gergen and Linda Killian among others...
  • Jason Olson: California's independent voters are big winners in Tuesday's primary election (Visalia Times Delta) Even before the first vote is counted, Tuesday's statewide primary election had a big winner: California's independent voters. For the first time in more than a decade, the votes of the state's 3.6 million independent voters (now called "No Party Preference") actually mattered in state legislative and congressional elections. The political impact on the state's elections has been dramatic.
    NOTE: This article also ran on The Hankster on Monday
  • California voters mixed about new top-two primary (By Jim Sanders, Sac Bee) The new system also gives more clout to no-party-preference voters, whose ranks have jumped from 10.7 percent of California's electorate in 1996 to 21.3 percent today. Republican Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria, as a state senator, forced the top-two primary onto the 2010 ballot by making it one of several demands to Democratic legislative leaders in return for his pivotal vote to end an 81-day budget impasse in 2009.
  • Incumbents advance in low turnout Calif. primary (Juliet Williams, RealClearPolitics) Feinstein, the 78-year-old incumbent Democrat, easily advanced to the general election, where she will face the next highest vote-getter. Elizabeth Emken, an autism activist who won the GOP's endorsement, had a healthy lead in a crowded field of 23 challengers, 14 of them Republicans.
  • I don't like being told how to vote (LETTER Arizona Republic) Regarding the letter Saturday about America having a three-party system -- "(R)epublicans, (D)emocrats and (I)ndecisives": It was cute. It was also far from the truth.
  • Senate teams clash over a schedule for debates Brown, Warren OK 2 on TV; rest in flux (By Noah Bierman, Boston Globe Staff) Mickey Edwards, a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma who owns a home in Hingham, said both sides are seeking public relations advantage. “They’re playing strategy games,’’ he said. “The feeling would be probably, OK, because Brown was the first to say, ‘I would do this,’ then the Warren campaign says, ‘Let’s call for more to make him look like he’s afraid of debates.’ ’’

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Hankster News of the Day for Independents June 5

Today is Top Two Open Primary Day in California!
  • Poll: Political independents outweigh partisans (JENNIFER AGIESTA, AP, Huffington Post) More Americans now call themselves politically independent than at any point in the last 75 years, according to a new poll. The survey also shows that those who do align themselves with a party are more ideological and have become more polarized than at any point in the last 25 years, particularly on issues important in this year's presidential and congressional campaigns.
  • Partisan Polarization Surges in Bush, Obama Years/ Trends in American Values: 1987-2012 (Pew Research Center) But the growing partisan divide over political values is not simply the result of the declining number who identify with the party labels. While many Americans have given up their party identification over the past 25 years and now call themselves independents, the polarization extends also to independents, most of whom lean toward a political party. Even when the definition of the party bases is extended to include these leaning independents, the values gap has about doubled between 1987 and 2012.
  • Forecaster Forum: An independent voter's plea to the parties (By Elizabeth Miller, The Forecaster Portland ME) At a panel discussion sponsored this spring by the Maine Festival of the Book, I found out that I am among the 40 percent of registered voters in our country not enrolled in a political party. Why am I “unaffiliated,” even when it restricts me to only general elections? Because neither side is charting a course that makes sense to me.
  • Will California's nonpartisan primary result in more moderate candidates? - Under the new format, the two candidates for California office receiving the most votes will advance regardless of their party affiliation. Proponents say it will result in less partisanship. (By Daniel B. Wood, Christian Science Monitor) “Right now there’s just confusion,” says Barbara O’Connor, director emeritus of the Institute for Study of Politics and Media at California State University, Sacramento. She notes that 26 candidates are running against veteran Sen. Dianne Feinstein. “I talked to several who filled out absentee ballots who were dumbfounded at the configuration of the ballot. Those who habitually vote for a full party slate now have to actually read them to see who is in it.”
  • Nonpartisan Primaries Face Test in California (By JENNIFER MEDINA, New York Times) This year, voters and candidates for the first time can choose to register with “no party preference,” a category that was once referred to as “decline to state.” Voters in the primaries can pick candidates from any party. 
  • California’s Everybody-Into-the-Pool Primary Faces Test (By Michael B. Marois, Bloomberg Businessweek) “The rules of the game have changed,” said Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation, a Sacramento-based nonpartisan group that has advocated for open democracy. “Democrats and Republicans no longer have a lock on the process.” 
  • Walker's lead in Wisconsin recall election tightens in new poll (By Rachel Rose Hartman, ABC News) According to PPP, Walker--who was targeted for a recall after waging war on state public employee unions in 2011--is winning among men, whites, seniors and residents of the Milwaukee suburbs. Barrett leads among women, minorities, young voters, and residents of Milwaukee county and greater Madison. Barrett is also winning independent voters 48 to 46 percent, a lead that is within the margin of error.
  • Former Rep. Curry to run again for legislature (By Lynn Bartels, The Denver Post/ THE SPOT) Former state Rep. Kathleen Curry plans to petition to run as an unaffiliated candidate from House District 61, a move that could take votes from the Democrat who currently holds that seat.
  • Bloomberg involved in San Diego mayoral race (Becky Yeh - OneNewsNow California correspondent) New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has officially announced his endorsement of California Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher for San Diego mayor. Bloomberg says Fletcher is a great choice because he is an independent. Fletcher left the Republican Party in March. Bloomberg left the Democratic Party in 2001, then abandoned the GOP in 2007 and became an independent.
  • Independence Party's endorsement of breakaway Dems is a 'game changer' (By Amanda Verrette, Legislative Gazette) From a political point of view, said Klein, the Independence Party proves to be the "margin of victory." "Many candidates, if they had the Independence Party line two years ago, would be senators right now," said Klein.
  • Barron's Big Boost - Will Towns's endorsement of Barron influence your voting decision in the primary? (By C. Zawadi Morris, Bed-Stuy Patch)