In case you haven’t heard, Secretary of State Ken Bennett announced last week that Independents have surpassed Republicans as the state’s largest group of registered voters in the state.

Of Arizona’s 3.2 million registered voters, more than 1,134,213, or 34.9 percent, don’t indicate an affiliation with a political party. Republicans aren’t far behind independents with 1,130,170. Democrats round out the total with 960,701 registered voters.

This is significant as independents grew by 10,245 since January. Democrats decreased by 2,127 and Republicans lost 1,093.

Why is this report significant? It’s simple. Arizona is now getting in line with the rest of the nation in showing Americans are tired of the bickering between two parties, and it means both Republicans and Democrats are going to have to continue taking this middle-of-the-road group of voters seriously.

As an Independent myself, I can say this, I truly do look at both sides. There is no rubber stamp. No policy is more appealing to me because it was introduce by a Republican or Democrat.

Like many Americans, I am tired of the fact that our lawmakers are failing to grasp that concept. If the Obama Administration introduces it, it must mean Democrats must stand by it. If Republican leaders introduced a plan, then the party lines have to stay intact.

For the most part, I tend to shy away from the candidate who refuses to compromise in the name of party alliance. 

However, while this report shows that independent voters are increasing, it is still an uphill battle due to confusion, or lack of participation in primary elections. Independents can vote in the primary election. They may not know that, but they can. They can also specify if they want to vote Republican or Democrat in a primary election. Again, it appears they either don’t want to, or don’t know they can.

According to Bennett, although independents make up the majority, they only make up 10 percent of participants in primary elections. Under Arizona law, independents must specify a party ballot to vote in the primary, that means taking the time to do so by deadline.

“To the extent that they continue to be a larger bloc but not participate at normal rates or party rates in the primaries, they’re losing their effectiveness in helping decide who party nominees are,” Bennett said. “They can remedy that a bit by the time they get to the general election, but choices have narrowed.”

Because of the lower turnout in primaries, it is allowing members of the two major parties to believe independents don’t matter.

Tim Sifert, the communications director for the Arizona Republican Party, said GOP candidates are conscious of the need for independent voters support, but still expects Republicans to maintain their advantage.

“The contrast that you have to look at though is that Arizona is a very red state,” he said. “Just look at the results of recent elections. There are clear Republican majorities.”

To those who want to overlook how independents are likely going to start impacting races, I say keep running races as you have been and deal with the consequences once election day comes around.

It may not happen in these mid-term elections, and the bickering and lack of production in Congress may even continue for several more years. However, a major race in 2016 just might be decided by the independent voters so many candidates are choosing to ignore.

For many of us independents, it means voting against the candidates who are unwilling to compromise and puts party-line voting above making life better for Americans.

(1) comment

John Flanagan

I would like to believe that more independent voters are coming into the political landscape, but I am not so sure I agree with the article's assertion that Arizona is "getting in line with the rest of the nation."
Most states and cities still line up in a partisan way, and even independents usually "lean" to either party, despite claims to the contrary.
I am an example of this frame of mind, as I am an independent. However, I lean right, never left, and usually vote Republican. Republicans who are too militaristic and neocons do not get my vote, but those who are pro-life and support traditional marriage will definitely get my vote every time.
Since Democrats are usually pro abortion, and most support even late term abortion, I can't pull the lever for them ever. For the most part, Democrats also love free spending, taxing, and too much government and bureaucratic control.
So...I really wonder how many independents are really independent, and how many just lean left or right and rarely split their votes.

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