Don Carlson: How important are non-partisan voters this election cycle?

In the United States, some states have the provision of voter registration as unaffiliated. Other states have that classification as independent. Nearly a dozen states, by the way, don’t have registration by party. (That voter is just required to call for a partisan ballot on primary day. Yes, on one primary election year it could be one of the two major parties; then on a following primary election year the voter could call for a primary ballot of the other major party.) Of course, Nevada’s unaffiliated or independent voter is registered as non-partisan. Voter registration by each respective state is an ultimate example of American federalism.

My 2018 general election thesis: The unaffiliated, independent, non-partisan voters will play the most historic role in determining the outcome of this 2018 off-year election. Locally, meaning statewide, the age-cohorts driving non-partisan registration in Nevada, as well in many states, are the Millennials and Generation Xers. Presently, nearly three-fourths (and growing) of the non-partisans in the Silver State are 18-53. The latter half of the Baby Boomers’ cohort and especially the Silent Generation cohort (72 and older) are the uber-partisans of politics.

Because of the historical trend — the conventional wisdom and focus about off-year elections is, too often, the party in power loses. Perhaps a more insightful alternative is to become aware of the three quantified indicators measuring the views of the unaffiliated, independent, non-partisan voters about: 1) the direction of the country; 2) the president’s job performance; 3) the generic congressional election inquiry.

Presently, barely 30 percent of the unaffiliated, independent, non-partisan voters nationally view the country as heading in the right direction. Presently, just more than one-fifth give President Trump a positive job performance rating. The response to the generic congressional question has ascended from an early four point plus for the party out of power to a high of 18 percent.

If these numbers exist in mid-September, the party out of power will have a high probability of reclaiming conventional wisdom.

Note however: numbers can and do change. So, follow them.

The party in power is and will be, especially this fall, emphasizing economic determinism, i.e. the unaffiliated, independent, non-partisan voter is driven primarily by money — thus focus on the “tax cut.”

The ultimate question about the party out of power — will it learn the non-economic determinist views of the unaffiliated, independent, non-partisan voters? If so, what are their concerns? How should they be addressed?

In summary, our 2018 general election will be a struggle for power (read: the ability to influence) the unaffiliated, independent, non-partisan voters by the party in power vs. the party out of power.

Don Carlson has resided in Carson City for more than four decades.


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