Candidates Beware: Independent Registration May Overtake GOP in California

If it wasn’t clear to Republicans and Democrats before the 2016 election, it should be now, the health of their national parties will likely hinge on their ability to successfully court the independent voter. California candidates, in particular, will have to contend with the influence of independent voters early because of the new nonpartisan primary which allows any voter to vote for any candidate.

The big question to be answered, however, is: will independent voters turn out in the primary?

The big question to be answered, however, is: will independent voters turn out in the primary? Conventional wisdom says independent voters will not be as big a force as they could be, despite their numbers. After all, so long as party-politics rules the day, political operatives have little incentive to try to get them to the polls … why would a candidate encourage a more unpredictable voter to cast a ballot?

The parties spend millions of dollars to encourage “their” voters to the polls. Will anyone court the growing independents?

NPP VOTER REGISTRATION JUMPS

In California, where registered Democrats (44.63%) hold a comfortable lead over registered Republicans (25.44%), it’s that independent voting bloc, growing steadily for years, that could soon overtake Republicans as the second largest group in the Golden State.

As reported in an LA Times story, independents or No Party Preference (NPP) voters check in at 24.95%, just half a percentage lower than Republicans.

According to the times article, Paul Mitchell, who runs the data firm Political Data Inc., said California could have more independent voters than Republicans by the November general election.

Democrats are celebrating Republicans losing registration. But they should be mourning,
Paul Mitchell, Political Data Inc.

“Democrats are celebrating Republicans losing registration. But they should be mourning,” Mitchell said. “This new registrant population looks like Democrats but they are registering as independents.”

Here’s how they break down by party:

Democratic: 44.63%
Republican: 25.44%

Independent (NPP): 24.95%
American Independent: 2.66%

Libertarian: 0.74%

Green: 0.48%

Peace and Freedom: 0.40%

BIGGER PICTURE

California Democrats, who will hold their upcoming statewide convention in San Diego, may not think they “need” to court independent voters, given their huge registration advantage over the GOP in California. As a result, they are likely to stick to their party-line national issues to rally their base and push “their” voters to the polls.

Will the Republicans take advantage of the opportunity and open up their tent to independents? Will independent candidates emerge? Will a Democrat go off-script?

Will the Republicans take advantage of the opportunity and open up their tent to independents? Will independent candidates emerge? Will a Democrat go off-script?

Only time will tell. But the growth of independent voters does not seem to be slowing at all.

At some point, political operatives will recognize the opportunity.