At the Herald News, columnist Mike Moran calls this a "seismic shift." Excerpt:
A newly published listing, with numbers tracked annually since 1982, reveals changes in the party affiliation of Bay State voters. It shows a seismic shift in attitude and a steadily decreasing number of voters identifying themselves as either Democrats or Republicans. . . . Over the past 29 years, the number of registered voters in Massachusetts has gone from approximately 2.9 million to 4.1 million. The bad news for loyal Democrats and Republicans is that while both parties have seen an increase in the raw numbers over the years, there has also been a significant decrease in both party’s ranks as a percentage of all registered voters.Democratic and Republican party leaders in the state have diametrically opposed explanations for this massive shift. From the Patriot Ledger:
In other words, more and more of us are choosing to forego membership in the two major parties. As it stands now, the biggest party in Massachusetts is no party at all. Democrats comprise 36 percent of voters; Republicans are at 11 percent; and independent voters hold the majority with 52 percent.
“There’s disenfranchisement with the entire system, and political parties represent that system,” said Tim Buckley, communications manager for the Massachusetts Republican Party. . . .
John Walsh of Abington, chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party . . . suggested some changes could be a result of the state’s election system, which allows unaligned citizens to vote on any party’s ballot in primaries, and the 1993 Motor Voter Act, which lets residents sign up to vote while renewing or applying for a driver’s license.