Oregon’s Independent Streak

PARTY REGISTRATION SHOWS RISING INDEPENDENT PRESENCE

Last week this website unveiled a new report looking beyond partisan identification – or the percentage of the electorate identifying itself as Republican, Democratic or (increasingly) independent – and delving into the ideological matrices that drive people’s voting behavior.

To read more about the study, CLICK HERE.  To read the study itself, CLICK HERE (.pdf).

Prior to this nationwide study, Market Research Foundation (MRF) conducted research on party loyalty in South Carolina.  The Palmetto State is reliably Republican – voting for the GOP presidential candidate in the last nine presidential elections.  But South Carolina is home to a strong (and emerging) independent streak – one you can read more about in our report HERE.

All the way across the country is Oregon – a reliably Democratic state that hasn’t voted Republican since 1984 and which elected Barack Obama by 16-point and 12-point margins in 2008 and 2012, respectively.  According to The Oregonian, voter registration in the Beaver State in advance of the 2014 midterm elections has surged to 2.2 million people – a record for a midterm election (and just 7,000 voters shy of the 2012 record).

Naturally record midterm voter registration means an increase in both major party bases, correct?

Wrong.  As Oregon’s electorate is expanding, the share of Democratic and Republican voters is declining.

“Voters who are non-affiliated or registered with one of the minor parties — particularly the Independent Party — now constitute 32.1 percent of the electorate, a record for Oregon,” the website reported this month. “For the first time in at least modern Oregon history, Republicans have now dipped below 30 percent of the electorate while Democrats are at 37.9 percent of the electorate.”

By contrast, forty years ago the independent percentage of the electorate stood at only 4.2 percent.

In red states and blue states – and the “swing states” in between –  there is a clear trend toward voter independence.  Smart campaigns would be wise not just to acknowledge it, but understand the ideological underpinnings of this movement.