Archive for Thursday, April 8, 2010

More Kansas voters choosing to register as a member of no political party

April 8, 2010


— With seven months before the general election, the percentage of unaffiliated voters in Kansas is rising, continuing a slow 10-year trend.

A review of voter registration numbers at the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office shows independents are currently 28 percent of the electorate. That is up from 26 percent in 2000.

The increase comes with a corresponding dip in the percentage of voters registering as Republicans. From 2000 to 2010, GOP voters went from 46 percent to 44 percent of the total.

Democrats, whose raw numbers have increased by 19,000, have seen their share of the registered voters stay the same.

The bump in unaffiliated and drop in Republicans can be deceiving, said Bob Beatty, political science professor at Washburn University. Many of those new independent voters could be what he called “party leaners,” or people who don’t register with one party but vote a party-line ticket most of the time anyway.

“Changes in registration matter, but it’s hard to evaluate how much it matters because we don’t know how many party leaners there are in the unaffiliated category,” he said.

Party affiliation matters, Beatty said, because research shows that despite America’s self-perception as an independent, free-thinking nation, 85 percent to 92 percent of people identifying with a party vote for that party’s candidates.

Statistics are notorious for being the puppets of those who wish to make them dance. The state’s political parties pointed to different numbers as evidence of their respective party’s strength.

The raw numbers for the Kansas Republican Party paint a static picture. In 2000, there were 735,000 registered Republicans. In 2010, the number is 741,000. While those numbers haven’t jumped up as much as the Democrats’ or independents’, what really matters, says GOP spokeswoman Ashley McMillan, is voter turnout.

In 2008, she said 85 percent of Kansas Republican voters showed up to the polls, compared to 80 percent of Democrats.

“And that was Obama’s year,” McMillan said.

The raw numbers for the Kansas Democratic Party indicate growing support. From 2000 to 2010, they went from 449,000 registered voters to 468,000, the largest number since at least 1996. Party spokesman Tyler Longpine said he took encouragement from those figures. He said this isn’t a minor ebb or flow and that the advantage in new registered voters spells trouble for the GOP.

“It’s been our goal to change the shape of the electorate,” Longpine said. “This is proof that it’s happening.”

McMillan said most unaffiliated voters vote with the Republican Party, and Beatty said that might not be too far from the truth.

As he put it, “The default in Kansas is Republican.”

He said the Kansas numbers parallel a national trend of increasing independent registrants.

“I guess the partisanship that has occurred has made unaffiliated a much more attractive category,” Beatty said. “But we’re unsure whether an unaffiliated is really willing to vote for both parties, or if the partisanship has made people just not want to be associated with one party or the other.”


Ken Lewis 7 years, 8 months ago

Wont change anything. Poeple will still foolishly vote for Republicans and Democrats.....and get the same govt they are disgusted with.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 8 months ago

A pox on both their houses. The D's need to shed M. Moore and the R's need to dump Sarah and the Teabaggers. Form a party that represents the 60-70% in the middle who can still use their hearts and minds simultaneously. Let Sarah start the "Christian Identity Party;" M. Moore can start the "New Age Commies Party" and the rest of us can move on. If these minority parties get some seats in Congress, so be it. They can take their chances with the electorate. Meanwhile, there is real work to be done which does not involve holding your breath until you turn blue or junior high school name calling.

Jimo 7 years, 8 months ago

Considering The Myth of the Independent Voter by Bruce E. Keith is now almost 20 years old, it is disappointing how often people still believe that people registering themselves as independents or telling pollsters that they are unaffiliated represents reality. Probably no more than 10% of these people are truly independent. The remainder are just ashamed to be identified with their default political grouping, and in Kansas that means Republican.

I see only 2 notable facts from this story: Many Repubs (almost certainly moderates) are unhappy with the direction and leadership of their Party but are unwilling to change to Dems. This is likely inseparable from national events and should reverse when (not if) the GOP moderates again (likely after multiple electoral defeats). Dems are bouncing off the bottom and are (or at least were) on a short-term upswing. In Kansas, they continue to have political power only when the GOP extreme elements so tick off the moderates that the Mods make common cause with a reasonable Democratic candidate.

Liberty275 7 years, 8 months ago

Maybe it's time for instant runoff elections in America. I think it would really benefit the libertarian parties.

Also, money beats soul every time. I just had to say that because I'm listening to Morrison Hotel. Outta sight!

werekoala 7 years, 8 months ago

heh... so voters are picking "No Party" over "The Party of NO".

Guess that hopey, changey thing isn't working out for the (R)s, huh? And they may not have realized that while the health care reform bill WAS Obama's Waterloo, that's only because he was Wellington.

Ah well, at least we're safe in Kansas, where we're making fake pot illegal while other states are making real pot legal. And the strip clubs close at midnight. And there's a large population that is indignant that the Gubbermint will interfere with their freedom to die an ailing pauper...

1029 7 years, 8 months ago

I only chose unaffiliated because they wouldn't let me put down Tea Party. I find it to be ridiculous and unacceptable that big Kansas government still refuses to recognize us as a political party. Kansas and Brownback will be in for a surprise this November when they see how well our TBA Tea Party candidate does.

Ernest Barteldes 7 years, 8 months ago

The Tea Party is not an official party yet. And btw your movement will soon disappear, and you'll be joining the Apocalypse and anti-abortion lonesomes.

fly_on_wall 7 years, 8 months ago

Maybe the people of Kansas are so disgusted by how the Republican controlled legislators ran things into the ground that they are showing there disapproval of GOP policy by not affiliating with them. I think it is a group of people saying we will vote for people who do not destroy our public good for tax exemptions. People in Kansas are good hearted people and it will not surprise me at all that this next election will have people voting on issues like. Tax cuts, Tax exemptions, School funding, Job growth and Health care. We got a nasty taste of State Wide Poverty with this Recession. People are fed up with rich getting the breaks and the working people get to pay more for less.

jonas_opines 7 years, 8 months ago

I would think you'd have been around long enough to be familiar with 1029 by now.

feeble 7 years, 8 months ago

If you vote with a given party 90% of the time, does it really matter if you register with that party or as an independent? This is why the top line on most polling is worthless and why the internals are so valuable.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 8 months ago

"To vote in a primary in Kansas, don't you still have to declare a party?" === Short answer, 'yes.' I sometimes register as an R to try and pick off the craziest one in August. That gets me mail from Lynn and the RNC chairman (so far, hasn't invited me to a bondage club outing, but hope springs eternal, no?) In Kansas, the August vote, which 80% often ignore, is the really important one.

Ernest Barteldes 7 years, 8 months ago

The Tea Party movement will shrivel and disappear in no time, mark my words. Though the movement is strong in Middle America, let us remember that 50 PCT of the population lives near the coasts, while another 20 around the Great Lakes. 25% of Americans are NOT America.

Having said that, I would like to see the two-party system go away.

Steve Jacob 7 years, 8 months ago

Simple answer is both major parties have moved farther left and right, and this county is looking into a middle party. If Bloomberg runs for president, I will listen.

gogoplata 7 years, 8 months ago

We need a small government, antiwar, individual liberty party.

Kirk Larson 7 years, 8 months ago

That ain't tea. It's definitely Kool-Aid.

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