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Independent Voters Could Decide Senate Control

By Alex Roarty, National Journal

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Most senators up for reelection know their campaigns bear little resemblance to the races they ran six years ago, but even these incumbents might not understand just how dramatically voter identity has changed since 2008.

Their states, in short, have a whole lot more independents.

That’s according to a new study from Third Way, a center-left think that examined up-to-date voter-registration figures in 10 states with competitive Senate or gubernatorial contests. The analysis, shared first with National Journal, depicts an electorate that over the past six years has become increasingly eager to embrace a nonpartisan label.

The top-line numbers are striking: 1.3 million voters have registered as independents since 2008, a 17-percent increase. In the same 10 states, Democratic registration has shrunk by 658,000, or 5 percent, while GOP registration has grown by roughly 360,000, or 3 percent.

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There are about half a million more independents now than there were just for years ago.

Third Way’s Michelle Diggles via Fox News

Read more about the surge in Independent voter registration and what it could mean for both parties in the upcoming elections in our recent products listed below.

The Battle for the House: Independent Registration in Swing Districts

Who will win this year’s House toss-up districts? Ask the Independents.

We examined voter registration by party identification in 17 House races where data was available and found:

  • Independents make up nearly 30% of the electorate in these swingiest of swing districts.
  • Compared to statewide numbers and presidential battlegrounds, toss-up districts boast more Independents.
  •  In 10 of 17 battleground districts, Democrats must win more Independents than Republicans to claim victory come November.

http://www.thirdway.org/publications/574

Read more in our new report, The Battle for the House: Independent Registration in Swing Districts.

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"There are challenges on the left, Politico has a report up today from a democratic think tank Third Way that Democratic registration is down 800,000 since 2008 in big states, including Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Pennsylvania: battleground states. So the new democrat enthusiasm is down. Will they be able to shore up existing democratic enthusiasm? Probably. It’s up to, of course, Republicans to shore up existing Republican enthusiasm. According to this report also, Independents spiking way up.” - S.E. Cupp on MSNBC’s The Cycle

A new report on voter registration trends finds that Democratic voter registration is down by more than 800,000 since 2008 in eight key battleground states.

GOP registration has also declined — but by only 79,000, a tenth of the Democrats’ losses.

Meanwhile, registered independents are on the rise, increasing their numbers in those states by nearly half-a-million.

The analysis, conducted by centrist Democratic think tank Third Way and appearing first in POLITICO, points to the critical role independent voters will play in determining the presidential outcome in some of the most competitive states on the 2012 map — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Via Charles Mahtesian, POLITICO

Hispanic voters in Florida are registering at record numbers…as Independents. 
Since 2008, the number of Hispanic registered voters has increased by 195,365, or 14.4%. 
Nearly as many Hispanic voters have registered as Independents as have registered as Democrats or Republicans combined—96,296 for the former and 96,954 for the latter. 
There are now more Hispanics registered as Independents in Florida than as Republicans, which was not the case in 2008.
Read more in The I’s Have It: Pre-Convention Voter Registration Analysis

Hispanic voters in Florida are registering at record numbers…as Independents

  • Since 2008, the number of Hispanic registered voters has increased by 195,365, or 14.4%. 
  • Nearly as many Hispanic voters have registered as Independents as have registered as Democrats or Republicans combined—96,296 for the former and 96,954 for the latter. 
  • There are now more Hispanics registered as Independents in Florida than as Republicans, which was not the case in 2008.

Read more in The I’s Have It: Pre-Convention Voter Registration Analysis

With both parties about to head to key battleground states for their National Conventions, the time is ripe to delve into how these states—and 6 other crucial battlegrounds—have changed since the last time around. In our newest analysis of the numbers in the 8 presidential battleground states with partisan voter registration, we find:

  • Democratic registration is down 800,329, or 5.2%;
  • Republican registration is down 78,985, or 0.7%; and,
  • Independent registration is up 486,677, or 6.4%.

Read more in The I’s Have It: Pre-Convention Voter Registration Analysis

What You Need to Know about Independents in 2012:
The number of registered Independents has increased since 2008 in many of the battleground states that will decide the 2012 election. 
Democratic registration fared worse relative to both Republican and Independent registration between 2008 and 2011.
Republican registration gained relative to Democratic registration between 2008 and 2011. 
Based on the combination of this general trend and the rise in both registration and self-identification of Independents since 2008, the most likely scenario for 2012 is that Independents will make up a bigger portion of the electorate than in any election since 1976, based on national exit polls.
Read more about this crucial voting block in our recent report, "Independents Day 2012"

What You Need to Know about Independents in 2012:

  • The number of registered Independents has increased since 2008 in many of the battleground states that will decide the 2012 election. 
  • Democratic registration fared worse relative to both Republican and Independent registration between 2008 and 2011.
  • Republican registration gained relative to Democratic registration between 2008 and 2011. 
  • Based on the combination of this general trend and the rise in both registration and self-identification of Independents since 2008, the most likely scenario for 2012 is that Independents will make up a bigger portion of the electorate than in any election since 1976, based on national exit polls.

Read more about this crucial voting block in our recent report, "Independents Day 2012"

2012 is likely to be another close presidential election. Current polls show a dead heat between Obama and Romney. In a close election, every constituency is crucial, but in four swing states, the increase in the Latino voting-age population from 2008 to 2012 is greater than the 2008 margin of victory.
Take Missouri, the only swing state besides his home state of Arizona that voted for McCain in 2008. McCain carried Missouri by about 4,000 votes. Missouri has gained roughly 18,000 new Latinos 18 or older since 2008—enough to reverse the Republicans’ 2008 margin of victory, even if only one third of them vote.
Read more in the May 2012 issue of Third Way’s Inside Politics Newsletter.

2012 is likely to be another close presidential election. Current polls show a dead heat between Obama and Romney. In a close election, every constituency is crucial, but in four swing states, the increase in the Latino voting-age population from 2008 to 2012 is greater than the 2008 margin of victory.

Take Missouri, the only swing state besides his home state of Arizona that voted for McCain in 2008. McCain carried Missouri by about 4,000 votes. Missouri has gained roughly 18,000 new Latinos 18 or older since 2008—enough to reverse the Republicans’ 2008 margin of victory, even if only one third of them vote.

Read more in the May 2012 issue of Third Way’s Inside Politics Newsletter.

6 months til election day, and how has the electorate changed? For starters, Independent enrollment continues to soar, outpacing Democratic and, to a lesser extent, Republican registration. 2012 is the year of the Independent voter. To find out more, read our memo “Flight to the Center,” on voter registration in the 8 “swingiest” of swing states: bit.ly/JXv4qm

6 months til election day, and how has the electorate changed? For starters, Independent enrollment continues to soar, outpacing Democratic and, to a lesser extent, Republican registration. 2012 is the year of the Independent voter. To find out more, read our memo “Flight to the Center,” on voter registration in the 8 “swingiest” of swing states: bit.ly/JXv4qm

Flight to the Center - Voter Registration 6 Months Out

6 months out from Election Day, how has the electorate changed? Today, we have released the third of our periodic updates on voter enrollment in presidential battleground states. We found that Democratic registration has fallen sharply since 2008, Republican registration is down modestly, and Independent registration has soared.

The long primary slowed the GOP hemorrhaging. But Independents still made the most gains, doubling in the 8 battlegrounds since 1996. Independent voters have also become more volatile, swinging between Democrats and Republicans, resulting in wave after wave election.

With 6 months to go, it’s going to be an interesting ride.