State Capitol News
3:00 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Independents Now Represent Largest Voting Group in Arizona

A new report shows independents now outnumber registered Republicans and Democrats in the state. But Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer reports that could actually mean greater political polarization.

Credit azcentral.com


Pollster Earl de Berge said there’s a reason people are choosing to register as independents.

“There’s an underlying and fundamental and profound reason that people are abandoning political parties in favor of being declared as independent. It doesn’t mean they have an interest in a third party so much as it means they’re really disaffected with political parties,” de Berge said.

However, most legislative districts are dominated by one party, making the primary the real election. Independents don’t vote in primaries even though they are allowed to. So, de Berge said who’s left in the party — and who turns out — are the true die-hards.

“As that happens, there’s no doubt that the parties will become more ‘dogmatic’ by virtue of the fact the people that are left are more dogmatic,” he said. 

That’s also the conclusion of pollster Bruce Merrill.

“The people that stay in the party are going to be increasingly more ideological because it’s the people that are kind of disgusted with what’s going on with both the Democratic and Republican side that leave the party,” Merrill said.

Secretary of State Ken Bennett said there needs to be a better job of telling independents they can vote in the primary now that they are the de facto majority party.