Do Independent voters vote for Independent candidates? About 29% of the registered voters in Pima County are now declaring No Party/Independent/Other affiliation (see Pima County Recorder’s Office website by clicking here.)
For the first time (as far as I know) there were more Independent candidates in a legislative race (LD 28 Senate) than candidates from the major parties. There was one Democrat (the incumbent), one Republican, and two Independents running in that legislative race.
But it seems that Independent candidates don’t receive a lot of votes.
November 2006 General Election: Jay Quick ran as an Independent in CD 8 House, and got 1.68% of the vote (3523 votes). This past August, 2010 he ran again for CD 8 House as a Republican in the primary, and received 2.29% of the vote (1648 votes), slightly more percentage wise.
November 2008 General Election: Ralph Nader ran for U. S. President as “Nonpartisan” and got only 0.51 % of the vote in Pima County (1995 votes). He formerly ran for President as a Green Party candidate.
November 2010 General Election: Harley Meyer just ran in CD 7 House as an Independent, and got 2.83% of the vote (4506 votes).
In LD 27 Gene Chewning just ran for State House as an Independent & got 6.46% of the vote (4,114 votes). He ran before for the same seat as a Republican in November 2006, and got 19.54% of the vote (11,327 votes)– which shows that major party affiliation does help.
And in LD 28 Senate, Ted Downing (formerly a Democratic legislator) got 6.25% of the vote (3,085 votes) running as “Nonpartisan and Independent”, while Dave Ewoldt as an Independent (formerly with the Green party) got 2.86% of the vote (1,414 votes). Final tallies are not complete for these two races either.
Downing ran for this same seat in the September, 2006 Primary as a Democrat and got 45.71% of the vote (7746 votes). He only got 3085 votes this time in the 2010 General Election, so leaving the Democratic party seems to have lessened his chances of vote-getting.
Running as an Independent frees the candidate from a Primary Election challenge, but they don’t have a political party “machine”/resources to help them get out the vote, nor a political party platform to assist the voters in deciding what these candidates stand for. Being “independent” minded may not be enough for today’s discerning voter.
And I suspect that voters who choose “Other/No Party/Independent/Non partisan” status do so as they want to avoid party labels (or are unhappy with their former party), the closed Primaries, and want the freedom to pick & choose between all the Political Party candidates (Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, Independent, etc.) in the General Election.
Time will tell if any independent/non partisan candidate will win a seat in Southern Arizona in the future.
UPDATE: Only Independent politicians in Southern AZ have been Ward 2 Councilmember Carol West (who changed from a Democrat), and District 3 Pima County Supervisor Ed Moore (who changed from a Republican).