Friday, August 11, 2006

The "None of the Above" Party

I'll get back to doing maps on Friday.. but this bruhaha over the potential Green Party candidate for governor is worth some analysis. Makes you wonder, just how many people are in the Green party these days anyway. In Allegheny County the number is 1,745 or 0.2% of the 874K total registered voters. What are the overall trends in voter registration and party affiliation?

Sometimes you hear people saying that Allegheny County is becoming more Republican. It's one of those ideas that you have to wonder if it comes from any real data or is just reflecting some anectdotal knowledge... or I suppose it could be someone's wishful thinking or fear. So here is the current Allegheny County voter registration by party compared to the party affiliation of new registrants over the previous year(note this is the best I could get this table formated):

PartyRegistered Between 5/05 and 4/06All Registered Voters
Green800.5% 1,7250.2%
All Other3,19818.5%22,2792.5%
No Party270.2%57,9186.6%
Socialist Workers 10.0%480.0%

It is important to note this is just a starting point to get at the question of whether party registration is changing, but it does have one curious result. The recent registrants are not any more likely to be Republican, but they do seem less likely to be Democrat. Not only that, but the nominal result is that they are not registering as true independents but mostly under "other" parties. Data like this makes me wonder about the "All other" party description. It would appear that these new registrants are not choosing "independent" or "no party" but are listing some other specific party that is not listed. Given that this list includes the Green, Reform, Socialist, Conservative (which is different from Republican) and other parties what other party is attracting these people? I honestly would not be surprised if this is more a reporting issue than anything else. Maybe there is some confusion over the difference between "independent", "other" and "no party". I suspect the registrants coming in via motor voter or all those who don't select any party get plopped into that generic category? If you ignore the "all other" new registrants in the calculation, the margin between the percentage Republican and percentage Democrat is nearly identical to the total voter registration base.


Blogger EdHeath said...

I read (in Ruth Ann Dailey’s column, sigh) that independent’s are the single largest group in Connecticut. Is Pittsburgh just behind the times? I vaguely remember that the trend toward registering as an independent started back in the Reagan era. We elect the occasional Republican county executive, but in general Pittsburgh seems frozen in time. Do you wonder why people see us as under-educated? By the way, how small will we get when the aging population finally, um, ages to conclusion? Will we become Scranton, home of The Office?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006 8:41:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

I dunno.. lots of things impact party registration.. some states have open primaries which do not preclude you from voting in primaries based on your party registration. The balance between marjor parties will also determine whether primaries matter, and thus whether voter registration matters. Motor voter is a big factor as well since it theoretically is registering people who otherwise don't care. I really am just curious about all these various shades of 'independent'.

ages to conclusion.. I will have to use that. I have always found it hard to find the right euphemism. How small? there really isn't a steady state given how screwey the entire age demographic is, if that is what you are asking.. but the declining elderly population will slow to very minimal levels over the next 8 years or so.

Had to look up that 'Office' reference.. Still not sure I get it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006 6:40:00 PM  

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