Independents Becoming a Force to be Reckoned with in California

From last week's column at CAIVN:
Over the last decade, registration numbers for the Democratic and Republican parties have slowly but steadily declined, while the percentage of voters who decline to state a party affiliation has increased by over 50%.  In 1998, Democrats constituted 47% of registered voters, with Republicans at 35% and decline-to-state voters at 13%.  By 2010, Democrats dropped to 45%, Republicans dropped to 31%, but the unaffiliated jumped to 20% of all registered voters.  Over the same period, third party registration has remained relatively constant, hovering around 4-5% of all registered voters.
From this week's column at CAIVN:
The December 2010 statewide survey of Californians by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) provides an in-depth look at the opinions and perceptions of the state’s Independent voters as we head into the new year. . . . . According to the survey, Independents propelled Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer to double-digit wins over their Republican rivals . . . On many issues, the opinions of Independents track very closely with those of Democrats and Republicans, revealing a transpartisan consensus critical of the political and economic status-quo. . . . However, the opinions of Independents appear to diverge most strikingly from those of Democrats and Republicans on issues that polarize supporters of the major parties . . . 

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