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8 States Where Party Registration Lags Behind Independent Registration

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Independent voters are the fastest growing voting bloc in the U.S. The number of people who self-identify as neither Republican nor Democrat has been on a steady incline since 2008. In the last two years alone, the number of voters registered without a party preference has increased by hundreds of thousands of voters, increasing the number of states where independent voters exceed party registration.

There are several states that do not require voters to declare their political affiliation when they register to vote. However, of those that do, here are 8 where independent registration makes up a majority or a plurality of voters:

Compared to two years ago, the total number of registered voters in Alaska has increased by 22,903 people, bringing the total number of voters to a little over 500,000 people. A solid majority (276,225 or 54.2%) of these voters have identified as either undeclared or nonpartisan. In contrast, 14 percent are registered as Democratic and roughly 26 percent are registered as Republican. After its recent population growth, Arizona now has the largest independent population (in terms of overall percentage of the electorate).

 

 It was the state with the highest percentage of unaffiliated voters in 2013, but its growth has plateaued since. The Republican and Democratic numbers have stayed consistent as well. Democrats make up about 35 percent of the electorate and Republicans consist of 11 percent. Despite the lack of growth, independents remain the majority in the state and continue to make their presence felt in statewide elections.

 

It is not a state that gets a lot of attention during major election years, but Idaho is another state where independent registration not only outnumbers party registration, it makes up a majority of the registered electorate. Teetering near 400,000, independents currently make up approximately 51 percent of all registered voters. Meanwhile, Republicans make up 39 percent of the electorate while Democrats make up only 9 percent — enough to raise the question of whether it should be considered a “major party” in the state.

 

About 48 percent of registered voters in New Jersey are not affiliated with any party. Out of 5.5 million voters, a little over 2.6 million identify as independent. Democrats follow, making up roughly 32.6 percent of registered voters, while Republicans claim 19.6 percent. The number of independent voters has remained mostly consistent since 2013.

Currently, the EndPartisanship.org coalition is challenging the state’s closed primary system, claiming that it gives the Republican and Democratic Parties a monopoly on elections in the state while denying nearly half the electorate full, equal, and meaningful participation in the election process. Interestingly enough, all of the states on this list either have closed/semi-closed primaries or allow the major parties to decide who gets to vote in taxpayer-funded primary elections.

 


Like Massachusetts, Connecticut’s previous growth of unaffiliated voters has stagnated since IVN’s last tally. However, they have retained their plurality of 42 percent. Over 900,000 individuals do not identify with a party, as opposed to over 400,000 Republicans and almost 800,000 Democrats. In Connecticut, 20 percent of registered voters identify as Republican, as opposed to 36 percent who associate with the Democratic Party.

 

Iowa’s percentage of unaffiliated voters has reached a high of 38 percent or slightly over 800,000 people. Republican and Democratic registration is unusually equal at 30.9 percent, meaning Iowa remains a key battleground state in statewide and presidential elections. Both Republicans and Democrats can claim roughly 660,000 people, with Democrats leading by a measly 1,000 voters.

 

Maine closely follows Iowa, possessing almost 380,000 voters (37% of the total electorate) who identify as independent voters. Democrats follow with 32 percent, then Republicans with 27 percent. Maine is another state where independent voters flex their muscles in statewide elections. U.S. Senator Angus King is not only one of the two independents in the Senate, but is a former governor.

 

Like Maine, unaffiliated voters make up 37 percent of Colorado’s electorate. Out of its population of roughly 3.5 million, 1.3 million identify as independent. However, unlike Maine, the gap between Colorado’s Republicans and Democrats is not so pronounced. Democrats make up 30.5 percent of registered voters, while Republicans hold onto 31 percent.

 

Rhode Island, Arizona, and New Hampshire also show promising signs of an unaffiliated plurality, but registration numbers have either not been fully released for 2014 or make it hard to distinguish unrepresented third-party voters from independent voters.

The recent growth in unaffiliated voters, both self-identified and registered, could be due to a variety of factors. One reason could be that split-ticket voting is becoming more attractive to voters, or they could just be tired of partisan politics blocking government productivity. Many voters also feel alienated from political parties because they don’t think their interests are being represented.

As the incline continues, it will be interesting to observe which states join those listed above in the coming years — especially with a major presidential election just one year away.

Did we leave out any states? Let us know in the comment section.

Image: American Spirit / shutterstock 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


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40 comments
Mary Ellis Buehrig
Mary Ellis Buehrig

My thinking is Independent, but my registration is with the Republican party, because if you do not have a party affiliation, you cannot vote in primary elections unless there is an Independent candidate on the ballot.... at least that is true in Florida. I vote in every election..from school boards to Federal elections because I believe in our Electoral system and the sanctity of our right to have a say in how I am being governed, and who is elected to speak for me in Congress. I was, until about the time the Clintons left the White House, a life-long Roosevelt Democrat. I did not leave the Democrat Party. They left ME..

Jared D. Miles
Jared D. Miles

Today political parties are a disgraceful thing that should be shunned. Yea, Independent voters.

Ben Hardin
Ben Hardin

I think plenty of people care but most who do are too cynical to believe voting systems and other electoral reforms can be achieved to do anything about it.

Jerry Myroup
Jerry Myroup

It's time we give Congress a' few weeks off ... they deserve it. Let's call on all Americans... Republicans, Democrats, and Independents to come together in an unprecedented, one time show of unity in 2018 to elect 435 carefully selected and groomed candidates whose sole purpose in going to Washington is to FIX what is wrong with our political process (think term limits, campaign finance, election reform, publicly financed campaigns,etc)? All other issues that tend to divide us would be put on hold until the system itself is fixed and solid. This the one HUGE issue we could actually get Americans to rally around! And really... they do deserve a ' few' weeks off '. Anyone agree?

Kim Muldoon
Kim Muldoon

In Florida, we're not allowed to vote in the primaries.

Norma Porath Stockmaster
Norma Porath Stockmaster

We have a country full of uninformed people who know more about the Kardashions than they know whats going on in Washington.

Eric Roth
Eric Roth

Would love to see where the Libertarian Party is in all these states. I know for a fact that it has the fastest growth in Colorado, growing by just over 27% alone in the last year.

Paul Couturier
Paul Couturier

As embarrassing to admit that I'm from Massachusetts; yes it's true that Unenrolled (the word Massachusetts uses to describe Independent voters) voters outnumber members of both political parties, its been my observation that the vast majority of these so-called "independent" voters are either democrats in disguise, or republicans in disguise, given the undeniable fact that we still lean heavily left politically, and city and town political committees will allow independents to belong to their groups. Believe it or not, we independents can even vote in primary elections in my state......and we get to choose the ballot of the party with the candidates we want to vote for! And after all of this, we still maintain our status as independents! Believe it or not!

Sara Huff
Sara Huff

We independents are not allowed to register in Georgia. We have to vote one party or the other. I have complained for many years. No body cares.

JusticePartyCT
JusticePartyCT

Happy to pushing independents in Connecticut to the Connecticut Justice Party. Besides the CT Greens and CT Libertarians, we are the only true independent parties. The CT Party is an appendix of the GOP and likewise, Working Families is attached to the Democrats.

Prince Duncan
Prince Duncan

No, you brainwashed and spoon-fed liberal and conservative cult drones are what`s wrong with not only our political system, but also our country.

Gary Hall
Gary Hall

Coming soon to a state near you

Timothy Carl Potts Sr.
Timothy Carl Potts Sr.

Independent or non affiliated voters still vote Republican and Democrat , until that changes nothing else will.

Kimball Bergeron
Kimball Bergeron

Peter Specht. That's the only reason I won't register Independent. It must change.

Kevin Veidt
Kevin Veidt

Independents are just reluctant democrats Poop or get off the pot You're like agnostics...afraid to think, or take a stand. You're what's wrong with Politics.

Randy Gaston
Randy Gaston

In my state you just register as a VOTER... there is no place on the voter registration form for any party. That is the way it should be everywhere.

Carole Morain
Carole Morain

In Colorado you are "unaffiliated". Work on getting that one!

Joan Kaufman
Joan Kaufman

Wow----amazing. 51% of registered voters are independents. Who'd have thought! They just choose not to get out and vote. I guess.

Prince Duncan
Prince Duncan

What does it matter if these "independents" STILL support the foul liberal and conservative cults in the voting booth? If they wish to be true independents, they need to PROVE it.

Peter Specht
Peter Specht

So what! They cant vote in most primaries so they have no say in who is going to run. Ya gotta change that.

Ld White
Ld White

People register as independent because they get tired of being asked for money by the dems and GOPs. Fact is, few independents are elected.

Chloe Rose
Chloe Rose

only a matter of time before California joins this list!!!

oak
oak

"Many voters also feel alienated from political parties because they don’t think their interests are being represented." this is definitely the case for me. I'd like to see someone from whatever party or no party at all (it doesnt matter to me) actually do something about the debt. Both sides make promises neither will keep

mon00
mon00

some like to say we independent voters are a fad, but the number are clear. this is no fad. It's a reaction to a shared reality that the government has stopped functioning as it was intended.

Alex_G
Alex_G moderator

Interesting new additions to the list. Idaho, Iowa, and colorado are very different in terms of their political history, but still showing the same trend

Bill Donahue
Bill Donahue

I am independent...i don't want some moron tellin me how to think ...especially the right.....

Jeff Chase
Jeff Chase

Wish we could register as Independent here in Oregon. However several years ago a communist group officially took the name "Independent Party".

Thomas Mayes
Thomas Mayes

Registration is only good if they get out and vote which they didn't in NOV. 2014.