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More Mass. voters steer clear of party
Metrowest Daily News (Metrowest Boston) ^ | 10-14-2012 | Laura Krantz/Daily News staff

Posted on 10/14/2012 6:56:25 AM PDT by Maceman

As voter registration forms flood into town halls across MetroWest, more voters than ever are choosing not to register with a political party.

Home to some of the nation's most liberal politicians, the Bay State is colored deep blue. But more than half of Massachusetts voters are unenrolled, a trend experts say has been growing across the nation for more than two decades.

In MetroWest, 53 percent of voters this year have not registered with a political party, up from 51 percent in the last presidential election.

"Having fewer people registered with a party means having fewer people anchored," said election data expert Michael McDonald.

A professor at George Mason University and a fellow at the Brookings Institute, McDonald runs a national project that collects and studies statistics about elections.

He said the large number of unenrolled voters produces a "bandwagon effect," meaning those people are more easily swayed by events along the campaign trail, like debates and gaffes.

"They’re going to blow in the wind a little bit more, if you will," McDonald said.

As of Friday in Framingham, 36,398 people, had registered to vote. Of those, slightly more than half are unenrolled.

Meanwhile 36 percent of Framingham voters are Democrats and 10 percent call themselves Republican. Those are the same percentages for Democrats and Republicans in Middlesex County.

Matthew Baum, a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, said some voters enroll as independents because they are disenchanted with our political culture.

But unenrolled voters are often those who don’t care about elections.

"It’s people who don’t pay any attention to politics," Baum said.

That affects elections because politicians focus on likability instead of policy to win over those voters, he said.

Elsewhere in the state, Franklin County has the highest percentage of unenrolled voters, 59 percent. Suffolk County has the lowest, 39 percent, based on data from the secretary of state from enrollment before September's primary election.

Residents have until Wednesday to register to vote in their city or town halls.

Local clerks said the number of registered voters will fluctuate until Wednesday as more people register and they delete voters who have moved to other towns.

Voting data suggests some MetroWest towns are more politically active than others.

In Sudbury, for example, about 90 percent of voting-age residents have registered, said Town Clerk Rosemary Harvell.

"This is really an increase," Harvell said. She said 12,058 people registered in 2008 compared to 12,342 this year.

In Marlborough so far about 85 percent of the voting-age population has registered. The percentage in Framingham is around 65 percent.

But not everyone registered will vote.

In the 2008 presidential election, 73.5 percent of Bay State voters voted.

Alex Keyssar, another Harvard government professor, said dissatisfaction with the political parties could drive people to register unenrolled, but either way, he said people this year are aware of the election and will likely vote.

However, since presidential candidates spend little time in staunchly Democratic Massachusetts, the state also misses out on much grass-roots campaigning that wakes up lethargic voters and gets them to the poles, Baum said.

"It’s hard for both sides to get their parties to turn out when they believe the top-ticket race is a foregone conclusion," he said.

Baum said the Brown-Warren senate campaign will likely be the biggest reason people vote on Nov. 6.

Clerks' offices will be open until 8 p.m. Wednesday for voter registration.

(Laura Krantz can be reached at 508-626-4429 or

TOPICS: News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Massachusetts
KEYWORDS: massachusetts

1 posted on 10/14/2012 6:56:33 AM PDT by Maceman
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To: Maceman

Few people who leave a Party go directly to the other Party — instead, they go independent first. Since MA is full of democrats, and the shift is from left to right in the nation, we have to guess that almost all of these folks used to be Dems.

2 posted on 10/14/2012 7:24:40 AM PDT by expat2
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To: Maceman

I suspect a big reason for the increase of independent voters across the US is much the same: because of political spin, the two parties have had their core values rather homogenized, making it much harder to distinguish them.

Some good advice to political parties on how to win elections is rather easy. That is, to summarize their political platform into about 100 “core value” bullet points, prioritized from most popular to least popular by party members.

*Then* offer that list, somewhat randomized, up to voters in general, and ask them to “re-prioritize” the list as to what *they* most and least want.

Now compare the two lists. Take the top five that voters in general want, and the top five that party members want.

And these 10 will be your campaign platform issues. Simple, clear, and easy to understand.

Importantly, the ‘10 of 100’ are all *part* of your parties’ “core values”, so you are not compromising anything at all, just saying that these “top 10” are what you are going to deal with *first*. The other 90 come in later, so aren’t forgotten, but they are not what you campaign on.

So what does this accomplish?

First of all, the top 5 of your “core values” selected by party members insures that your party base will strongly support you. Second, the top five “core values” of the public will mean that you get strong, popular voter support as well.

And the two together wins elections, *without* compromising your core values. It is clear, precise, and easy to understand, which voters like. It does not equivocate, that “maybe we’ll do this”, or “we’ll vote for this after voting against this”, and other irritating things like that.

And if one party becomes crystal clear, it makes the other party look even more obscure and evasive.

3 posted on 10/14/2012 7:34:45 AM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy (DIY Bumper Sticker: "THREE TIMES,/ DEMOCRATS/ REJECTED GOD")
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To: expat2
I would think this is a positive development for Massachusetts. Democrats have always counted on mindless party loyalty, symbolized by registration. To change to independent is, at some level, to retract a commitment to sell out to the Pahty.
4 posted on 10/14/2012 7:35:47 AM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: expat2
Hopefully these people are finding their values are more closely aligned with the Republicans, but that the national "brand" as demonized by the LSM makes it difficult for them to admit to.

We don't register by party in my state - could someone explain the ramifications? Do Independents not get a say in Primaries?

5 posted on 10/14/2012 7:44:08 AM PDT by Mygirlsmom (Obama will fight for Big Bird with one hand and flip the bird to America with the other.)
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To: Mygirlsmom
Hopefully these people are finding their values are more closely aligned with the Republicans, but that the national "brand" as demonized by the LSM makes it difficult for them to admit to.

If nothing else, it's a shift away from the hard left and towards the conservative point of view. Dims leaving the party of the Jackass doesn't make them conservatives, but it should give the Dims pause for thought...what am I saying; it will only make the true Dims irate.

6 posted on 10/14/2012 7:57:25 AM PDT by trebb ("If a man will not work, he should not eat" From 2 Thes 3)
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To: Mygirlsmom
Do Independents not get a say in Primaries?

Varies by state. I've lived in five states as an Independent, and have been limited in my voting options during most primaries to nonpartisan races. One state let me pick which ballot I wanted, the Democratic or the Republican, during the primary. The other four would have required me to declare, at registration time, to which party I was affiliated.

Part of the reason I'm so down on the political parties is the way my father was treated as an appointed member of a scientific-base Board. He was eased out because the governer of the state convinced him to change his declared political registration...and that change plus other appointments unbalanced the Board enough that someone had to go. That's the thanks he got for serving his State with dedication. "You did a great job for us, now go home."

I'm unhappy with all the political parties. Interestingly, to me the negatives in each party outweigh the positives, in all cases.

Oh, yes, I will never run for office, or accept an appointment to Board, because of that experience. Plus, I could never, ever pass the litmus tests of any party.

7 posted on 10/14/2012 8:01:03 AM PDT by asinclair (Bulls*it is a renewable resource.)
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To: AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; ColdOne; Convert from ECUSA; ...

Thanks Maceman.

8 posted on 10/14/2012 8:04:35 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (
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To: Mygirlsmom

It means that Independents can vote in either primary, in effect actually vote “against” someone. Say vote for Hillary vs Barry in the primary and then turn around and vote R in the election.

9 posted on 10/14/2012 8:42:24 AM PDT by acapesket
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To: acapesket
What are you seeing in yard signs and bumper stickers?

I've seen one Obama yard sign and a dozen Romneys, and just one anti-Obama bumper sticker.

I know Mass. biggest cities vote left but my town has always been Dem and there are no Dem signs except for Squaw Warren

10 posted on 10/14/2012 10:24:09 AM PDT by Lady Jag (If you can't make them see the light, let them feel the heat. - Reagan)
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To: Lady Jag

In my hometown there are Scott Brown posters everywhere! This is a GOOD sign!
Not too many Romney posters but I think that is for a reason. Small town, big Punks and there has been intermittent vandalism...their parents think they are “Angels”! The police are rather ineffectual.. it’s a mafia type syndrome...
who is doing the payola?

My Neighbors... it’s all about managing the message but people here are pissed off.

11 posted on 10/14/2012 6:01:31 PM PDT by acapesket
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To: acapesket

Out of four towns last week there were scads of Brown signs and local Republican signs. I can’t speak for the other towns but I know this one is always liberal yet there are no Obama signs and quite a few for Romney.

12 posted on 10/14/2012 7:02:32 PM PDT by Lady Jag (If you can't make them see the light, let them feel the heat. - Reagan)
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To: Lady Jag

For the reason that i previously stated... no one wants to be vandalized.

13 posted on 10/14/2012 9:08:41 PM PDT by acapesket
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