Archive for Sunday, April 11, 2010

Partisan voters

The numbers aren’t large, but a move toward more unaffiliated voters in Kansas may be sending a message about political trends.

April 11, 2010


Some subtle trends in Kansas voter registration may be sending a message about how voters in the state, and perhaps the nation, are feeling about partisan politics.

While the voter totals compiled by the Kansas secretary of state have fluctuated over the last decade, there is a notable rise in the number of people who are choosing to register as unaffiliated voters rather than aligning with either the Republicans or Democrats.

Kansas remains a strongly Republican state, but the numbers are waning. Democratic registration has grown, but the percentage of Democratic voters has remained relatively steady. The greatest gain in the last decade has been in unaffiliated voters.

In 2000, Republicans represented about 45 percent of Kansas voters; in February of this year, that had dropped to 43.5 percent. The GOP had 735,435 Kansas voters in 2000, peaked with a registration of 783,068 in 2004 when President George Bush was re-elected and then dropped back to the current 740,947.

Democratic registration also peaked at 454,478 in 2004, dropped somewhat, then rebounded to 451,577 in 2008 when President Obama was elected. After that, however, it continued to grow to the current 468,190. In 2000, 27 percent of voters were registered Democrats; last month, that total stood at 27.5 percent.

The number of unaffiliated voters was 424,183 in 2000. It had a couple of bumps in presidential election years but showed a steady increase to 481,497 last month. That’s 28 percent of the state’s registered voters compared with 26 percent in 2000.

As noted, it’s a subtle change, and it would be wrong to read too much into the statistics. However, the registration totals seem consistent with Americans’ widely perceived dissatisfaction with the deep political divisions that mark both state and national government. In Kansas, Republicans are losing some support, but their voters aren’t necessarily turning to the Democrats. They want to vote, but many apparently prefer not to be identified with either party.

They may or may not be trying to send a message to the two major political parties, but it’s a trend that warrants consideration by party leaders and elected officials. A strong two-party system may be considered the backbone of American democracy, but the inability of too many lawmakers to meet somewhere in the middle to move public policy forward may not be playing well with American voters.


AnnaUndercover 8 years, 1 month ago

The numbers this editorial describes may not be earth-shattering, but I count myself among those who are tired of watching Democrats and Republicans try to sabotage each other when I simply want to see the state run well by smart people who care about Kansans.

My degree is not in American politics, but after some self-education in the past month and a half or so, accomplished mostly through reading anything on the Kansas state legislature on and in the Topeka Capital-Journal, I might not affiliate with either one when I register to vote in this state.

nobody1793 8 years, 1 month ago

Unfortunately, the system is so messed up, that the most intelligent and well qualified people want nothing to do with politics. I mean your entire life's history is dragged out in public, your own words are twisted against you, and even if you do get elected, if you don't "play the game" you're frozen out of accomplishing anything by your party leaders. Who needs that?

63BC 8 years, 1 month ago

This interpretation of these data fail to account for the degradation of voter rolls by the National Voter Resitration act [aka "motor voter"] and the Help America Vote Act [HAVA].

In the guise of greater openness, these laws have severely limited the ability of state and coutny election officials to purge their rolls of inactive voters---most of whom have moved. Election officials do routinely strike deceased voters from registration lists when informed by the Division of Vital Records.

Voters who move to new jurisdictions often then register at their new address, which they are of course entitled to do. However, efforts to remove voters from their former addresses are almost non-existent.

As Indpendent voters tend to be more transient [less correspondence with home ownership], their numbers artificially swell as the same voter---with no intent of wrongdoing on their part---more likely ends up being registered in multiple jurisdictions.

This partially explains why turnout among registered Democrats in Kansas in 2008 was 81% and 85% among Republicans but only 65% among Independents.

These data are not indicative of a trend, they are an argument for cleaning up voter lists.

Bob Burton 8 years, 1 month ago

This could be due to fact that people are tired of all beg calls & mail from the partys.. If I register as independent I due not get these..

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