Millions of voters are not just choosing to self-identify as independent of the two major parties, they are dumping their party registrations in droves.
In about half the states that register voters by party, independent voters outnumber at least one of the two major political parties. But here are 9 states where independents not only outnumber registered Republicans AND Democrats, they are also having a significant impact on political developments within the state.
Note: All registration numbers are the most up-to-date as of the time of this writing.
Source: Independent Voter Project
Alaska has the highest percentage of registered independent voters with 55.25% of the total registered voting population. Comparably, Republicans make up 25.77% of registered voters and Democrats comprise 13.82% of registered voters.
Interesting News: The Alaska Supreme Court recently upheld a lower court decision that allows the Alaska Democratic Party to include independent candidates on its primary ballots.The Alaska Democratic Party challenged a state law requiring primary election candidates to be registered members of the party whose nomination they're seeking. A superior court ruled the state was restricting Democrats' ability to appeal to independent voters by not allowing unaffiliated candidates to participate in Democratic primaries.
Interesting Fact: Alaska recently had the only sitting independent governor, Gov. Bill Walker, who dropped out of the race for re-election in 2018.
Colorado’s independents make up 38.36% of registered voters, with Democrats and Republicans being more closely grouped together at 30.25% and 29.49%, respectively.
Interesting News: In 2018, Colorado had its first open primary since Proposition 108 passed in 2016, allowing independent voters to participate. The primary elections were considered massive success by state and county election officials. The primaries saw record-breaking turnout.
Interesting Fact: Colorado is home to the first statewide slate of independent candidates running for the state legislature. Only a handful of independents are needed in the evenly divided legislature to shift power away from both major parties.
Connecticut has a registered independent voter population of 41.26% of registered voters, followed by Democrats at 36.60% and Republicans at 20.76%.
Interesting News: Connecticut saw an unprecedented surge in voter registration since the 2016 election. Despite the growth in Democratic and Republican voters, independent voters continue to be the biggest bloc of voters in Connecticut. A whopping 143,217 new independent voters registered to vote in this midterm cycle, bringing the total number of registered independents to 857,111.
The Hawkeye State has a registered independent voter population of 36.05%, with Democrats and Republicans not too far behind at 31.33% and 31.90%, respectively.
Interesting News: According to a recent Washington Post report on the role of Iowa independent voters in the IA-1 congressional election, these voters are the key to electoral victory.
Maine has an unaffiliated voter population of 34.95%, with Democrats following closely behind at 32.97% and Republicans making up 27.37% of total registered voters.
Interesting News: Maine’s independent voting population had one of the most historically significant impacts on electoral reform within the state. Maine is a closed primary state, which means voters have to be registered with a party to participate in elections that decide party nominations. However, for ballot measures in the 2018 primaries, independents were allowed to participate. Question 1 to protect ranked choice voting, a referendum that Maine voters already approved in 2016, won a decisive victory largely as a result of independent voters.
Interesting Fact: As of this writing there are currently 6 independents in the Maine State Legislature, and one member of the Green Party. Maine also has one of the nation's only two independent US senators, Angus King.
Massachusetts’ unaffiliated voter population closely follows Alaska’s, making it the state with the second-highest percentage of registered independent voters. 54.05% of registered voters are unaffiliated with political parties. Democrats make up 34.03% of registered voters and Republicans consist of 10.68%.
Interesting News: Voter Choice Massachusetts is a growing coalition pushing for the adoption of ranked choice voting. Adam Friedman, the Executive Director of Voter Choice Massachusetts, spoke with IVN Editor Shawn Griffiths about the expansive and active grassroots network trying to carry the torch for the election reform after its success in Maine.
7. New Hampshire
The Granite State’s registered voter population currently consists of 41.55% unaffiliated voters. This is followed by Democrats at 27.81% and Republicans at 30.62%.
Interesting News: New Hampshire’s primary process allows independents to choose on election day which primary they want to vote in, which can upend landscapes that show landslide wins on both sides of the aisle. Independents have played outsized roles in previous New Hampshire primaries, even if their picks don’t end up securing the party’s nomination.
8. New Jersey
Unaffiliated voters make up 40.99% of the registered voting population, with Democrats following at 36.87% and Republicans consisting of 21.47%.
Interesting Fact: In March 2014, a coalition led by the Independent Voter Project (IVP), including 7 individual plaintiffs, filed a complaint in federal court arguing that the current closed primary election process in New Jersey gives political parties and their members a decided advantage in the election process at the expense of individual voters, including independents. In July 2015, the coalition appealed a decision from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals which held that voters must join a qualified political party to vote in the primaries. The Supreme Court chose not to hear the case at that time. However, the issue remains on the table.
9. Rhode Island
Rhode Island may be the smallest state by land area, but by registered independent voters, Rhode Island is quite significant. The state has the third-largest percentage of unaffiliated voters in the United States with 48.4%. Democrats follow with 39.4%, and Republicans make up 11.8%.