Party Preference? None Of The Above

Record numbers of California voters shun major parties

California may be a solidly blue state in terms of the upcoming presidential contest.

But when it comes to attracting new voters, the only growth in registration comes from those who don't identify themselves as either Democrats or Republicans.

New figures from the Secretary of State's office in Sacramento show that a record number of the state's 17 million registered voters are on the books as stating no preference of political party. 3.6 million voters, or just over 21 percent, fit that category.

That's up by about 2 percentage points from the 2008 presidential election. It continues a trend that's been on the rise over the past decade. It indicates growing dissatisfaction with partisan bickering and extremism on the right and left that's led to stalemates in Sacramento and Washington.

The Republicans fare the worst.

Their registration numbers have declined to just over 30 percent of the electorate in California.

Party leaders are struggling to recover from financial troubles and criticism that they have done too little to reach out to Latino voters and other minority groups.

But Democratic registration is flat. They have 43 percent of the voting rolls, which is virtually identical to numbers of four years ago. In other words, as voters are leaving the Republican Party, they're not moving to the Democrats.

They're choosing none of the above. California will not be seriously contested this fall in the presidential contest.

That much we know. But both major parties ignore the independent voter trend at their own peril. Arnold Schwarzenegger used to talk about "postpartisanship."

A lot of political folks were never sure what that really meant. But moderate voters are the key to close elections, and their distress with the established parties sends a clear message.

They want accomplishments, not partisan gridlock.

Author Kevin Riggs is an Emmy-winning former TV journalist. He is currently Senior Vice President with Randle Communications in Sacramento.

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