Since the 2008 elections, more than 2.5 million voters have left the Democratic and Republican parties while the number of voters claiming to be independent has grown steadily.
A recent analysis of state voter registration stats conducted by USA Today shows the number of registered Democrats has declined in 25 of the 28 states that register voters by party. Republicans lost voters in 21 states, while those without party affiliation increased in 18 states.
The pattern is more pronounced in states that will play a major role in the outcome of the 2012 presidential election. In the eight swing states that register voters by party, the USA Today report shows a decline of 800,000 in registration for the Democrats’ while Republicans’ dipped by 350,000. Voters that identify themselves as independents have increased by 325,000.
Swing States that register by party: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina and Pennsylvania
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Democrats remain dominate in the number of registered voters with more than 42 million, Republicans follow with 30 million and independents now number 24 million.
Democrats have lost the larger percentage of registered voters (3.9%) since 2008. Since the last presidential election, there are 1.7 million fewer registered Democrats.
While both parties continue to lose core supporters, the number of independents has grown by more than 400,000 since 2008, or 1.7%. States with the biggest gains in independents: Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Arizona.
The Pew Research Center released a study in May on “political typology” that revealed a growing, more diverse independent electorate. The emergence of groups that seem very different on the surface, yet are motivated by many of the same emotions (TEA Party and OWS movement are good examples) confirms the frustration an ever growing part of society is feeling.
The study reported a 7-point increase in the number of Americans identifying as independent since 2005, from 30% to 37%.
The report suggests that as the number of independents continues to grow, so will the continued fracturing of our government. The notion of independents being the “mushy middle” is shown to be inaccurate in describing the current movement away from party affiliation.
Pew Study Excerpts:
“…many of these independents hold extremely strong ideological positions on issues such as the role of government, immigration, the environment and social issues. But they combine these views in ways that defy liberal or conservative orthodoxy.”
“…the growing rejection of partisan identification does not imply a trend toward political moderation.”
Independents will determine the outcome of the 2012 elections and President Obama needs to equal the support level he achieved in winning the 2008 race to gain reelection. Based on a recent Gallup poll, it is going to be difficult for Obama to come close to his 2008 showing when his approval among independents was 62 percent. Since taking office, Obama has seen his approval fall to 39 percent with the same group.
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The importance of winning the independent voters is illustrated clearly in the results of the last two election cycles:
In 2008, Democrats won independents by eight points and won the White House.
In 2010, Republicans won this group by 19 points and took control of the House while cutting the Dems majority in the Senate.
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