New voter data: ‘no party preference’ still rising

Nonpartisanship continues to rise in the Golden State, according to California’s latest voter registration data.

As of September 7, a total of 17,259,680 Californians are registered to vote, representing 72.6 percent of eligible Californians, up from 69.8 percent this time four years ago.

“As Californians hear more about the important issues on the November ballot and as we approach the October 22 deadline to register, those numbers will continue to go up,” Secretary of State Debra Bowen said in a news release announcing the new data. “Filling out a voter registration application online or on paper takes just a few minutes, and I expect to see tens of thousands of new California voters this presidential election season.”

Of Californians registered to vote, 3,672,229 chose no party preference – a new all-time high. The previous record raw-number high of unaffiliated voters was 3,654,608, reported in June.

Here’s the registration breakdown (with Sept. 2008 figures in parentheses for comparison):

  • Democrat – 7,458,915 – 43.33% (7,101,442 – 43.91%)
  • Republican – 5,197,177 – 30.11% (5,227,489 – 32.32%)
  • no party preference – 3,672,229 – 21.28% (3,151,369 – 19.49%)
  • American Independent – 434,438 – 2.52% (333,609 – 2.06%)
  • miscellaneous – 210,583 – 1.22% (107,605 – 0.67%)
  • Green – 109,488 – 0.63% (116,334 – 0.72%)
  • Libertarian – 94,620 – 0.55% (78,935 – 0.49%)
  • Peace & Freedom – 59,232 – 0.34% (54,989 – 0.34%)
  • Americans Elect – 2,998 – 0.02% (n/a)
  • Friday’s report reflects data gathered 60 days before the November 6 General Election, with updates to voter registration rolls in California’s 58 counties including the removal of registrants who have passed away, moved out of state, or have been determined to be ineligible to vote, as well as the addition of new registrants.

    The deadline to register to vote in the November 6 general election is October 22. The last day to request a vote-by-mail ballot is October 30. Californians can check their voter registration status online, and as of this week can register to vote online as well; paper voter registration applications are available at sites including U.S. post offices, public libraries, Department of Motor Vehicles offices, and county elections offices.

    Josh Richman

    Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

    • jskdn

      Why so low? Given the extreme nature of the Democrat and Republican Parties, as well as the third parties, in this state, none-of-the-above seems like the clear choice. In Massachusetts, it’s 52%.

    • Rosie

      Maybe more people are finding themselves sick of the political games both parties play. The status quo is to cater to special interest donors at the expense of ordinary voters, continually raise taxes to fuel government waste, and to hide facts behind an opaque cloud of deceit. I think we will see a similar dissatisfaction in the way these people vote as we do in their voter registration.

    • GV Haste

      The American Independent party has 2.52%, up from 2.06% in 2008.

      The reality is that over half of those 2.52% signed up , thinking they were registering as “independent”, meaning “no party preference”…
      That would almost certainly be true for the 0.46% growth they’ve had in the past 4 years.

      Also, lots of lifelong Democrats, such as myself, really feel closer to independent, but up til now have never changed due to the prior system where the ONLY election took place in the primary (and even that was rare).
      Now, with “top two” finally we get to see a few real races such as Stark-Swalwell.
      I’d bet that easily 5% of both Democrats and Republicans would register as “no party preference” if they had to fill out a new form.
      Pushing that designation well over 30% and with Democratic reduced to perhaps 36%, and Republican to about 16%.

      Sick of the mess they’ve created in Sac and elsewhere with their idiotic party games.

    • JohnW

      As noted by GV Haste, “Top Two” now makes it possible to participate in most primary contests without stating a party preference. But not for presidential primaries. That is about the only reason I choose to remain a registered “D.”

    • Mark

      Is anyone not surprised by this information? The two parties are so mired by special interest pandering! There is no recognition of voters rights only special interest money. Check out who really owns California politics!


    • Elwood

      “The reality is that over half of those 2.52% signed up , thinking they were registering as “independent””

      You can’t suppress the stupid vote.

    • Janae

      Voters are tired of being lied to, this does not surprise me one bit. It is nice to see California voters coming together to help facilitate change. We need it! We need more support from voters, our voices do matter! Together we can get California back on the right track and back to prosperity.

    • Jordan Magill

      Any surprise that we Californians are fed up with the politicians and their parties? Both are in bed with special interests. Both pervert the people’s will to serve the donors. The CTA snaps and politicians roll over and play dead, killing a bill to streamline the process of firing sexual predators. PG&E whistles, politicians beg, and green projects vanish. Worse than tragic, it prevents our state from achieving the growth it could. Only when special interests are banished from Sacramento will California again shine like gold!

    • Jordan

      Thats because Californians are sick and tired of all the corruption in Sacramento. Special interests run our state. They suck up all the resources we so desperately need to fix California. And when they suck our resources dry, Sacramento decides to raise our taxes, to make up for the loss. Until we rid California of the special interest plague, we will never see a recovering California.

    • Osahon

      Voters are apathetic to the two party system because they realize there is ineptitude on both sides. What most don’t realize is that ineptitude is only half the problem. Many politicians are controlled by Special Interests that are only interested in pushing their selfish political agendas, at the expense of everyone else.

    • Ralph Hoffmann

      For the General Election, party registration makes no dufference. As you can see from the above replies, many voters are disgusted with both R’s and D’s.

    • JohnW

      While I share the issues we all have with the political party system, there is a huge downside if too many of us just abandon the parties completely and deny ourselves the opportunity to vote in the primaries. All we’re doing then is leaving the selection of the candidates to the hard core “base” of each party, who are typically hyper-partisan in their view of the world. We’ve addressed most of that with “Top Two” in California, and we’ll see how it works out. But presidential primaries are not covered by “Top Two.”

    • GV Haste

      When is the last time California had anything to do with electing a president? Primaries or general election? Really, I can’t remember.

      In all the other contests, the Top Two is great.
      Look at this year.

      At least those are real November elections for the first time in ages.

      Plus, though not top two, we have the District 2 Supervisorial race. Valle, Green, Hayashi.
      Plurality wins. Could be a squeaker.
      Mailers destined to be suitable for framing.

    • JohnW

      Re: #13 When is the last time California had anything to do with electing a president? Primaries or general election?

      CA has been relevant several times.

      Had RFK lived, his 1968 primary win in California would have given him the momentum to win in Chicago. He probably would have beat Nixon in the general.

      Ronald Reagan almost beat President Ford for the GOP nomination in 1976, and his primary win in California almost gave him the delegates he needed. Had Reagan been nominated to run against Carter in 1976 instead of 1980, Carter probably would have beat him; and Reagan never would got a second chance to run. Carter might well have been re-elected in 1980 had somebody other than Reagan run against him.

      Hillary Clinton almost beat Obama in 2008. The contest would not have been that close without her primary win in California.

      As for general elections, Ford won California’s electoral votes in 1976 and almost had enough electoral votes to beat Carter. California’s electoral votes weren’t in doubt in 2000 and 2004, but they would have been decisive had Gore carried his home state in 2000, or if Kerry had carried Ohio in 2004.

    • Elwood

      Lots of probably, almost and if, John.

      Reminds me of the story how if the dog hadn’t stopped to take a crap he would have caught the rabbit.

    • JohnW

      Re: 15

      “Lots of probably…”

      Only a couple, but it is interesting to contemplate the last 44 years without a Nixon or a Reagan.

      Real point was California can count, even in presidential elections. It wasn’t that long ago that this state elected both Republican and Democratic governors, and voted for both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. So, what happened? Instead of showing up for primary elections, voters left it to the hard core base of each party to pick candidates. So, in the general, we get to choose between candidates owned by the public unions or right wingers.

    • Janae

      Despite voters choosing a party preference the fact remains the same that they are tired of the lies and corruptive politics. Voters deserve an honest government.

      Here’s what’s been killing our state:http://bit.ly/QSfujA

    • Janae

      Voters want reform, they will identify party wise once our politicians address that.

    • GV Haste

      JohnW, you make my case. California voting for president, not important since 1980.
      Certainly not in the general election.

      Sure, you bring up 2000 and 2004, but the fact that California was going to vote Democratic was never in doubt. California wasn’t even remotely in play, as is also the case this year.

      Yet newspaper space devoted to that one race will probably be far greater than all the other races combined.

    • JohnW

      GV Haste –

      I believe your point was, “when was the last time California had anything to do with electing a president? Primaries or general election?”

      You have a point when it comes to the primaries. That’s a scheduling issue. As for the “general,” try moving CA’s electoral votes from D to R in any year a Dem has won the presidential election and see just how irrelevant the state is.

      Agreed, CA is normally not in play in the general. However, we are not unique in that regard. Only about one quarter of states are in play in a typical presidential election year. But I still take my vote seriously. I get psyched by voting as if my ballot is the one that will decide the outcome. I do that with all the down ballot offices and ballot issues too. If a couple million Dems decided not to vote on the basis that CA was not in play, then the state WOULD be in play. If 100 percent of eligible Republican voters showed up to vote while only the typical half of eligible Dems showed up, that would probably be enough to hand the state’s electoral votes to the GOP candidate.

      We could move to a popular vote system for the presidency, but that would create as many problems as it would resolve. And it would actually make a big state like California LESS relevant. Getting 60% of the votes cast in CA would mean that a candidate just got a lot of votes added to all the other individual votes acrosss the country — instead of winning or losing a big state’s bloc of electoral votes.