Independent Voters a Key Predictor of 2010 Election Results

As the 2010 election year nears, some of the outcome can predicted by examining the views of independent voters.

Independent voters, those who decline to state a party preference are the only growing bloc of voters in California, now representing 20 percent of the state’s 15.7 million registered voters.

Their support is numerically necessary to elect a Republican governor, as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2006 re-election demonstrated and, more importantly, their positions on issues and candidates tend to be a forecast of where moderate Democrats and Republicans eventually land.

In a poll released this December by the Public Policy Institute of California, “Californians & their Government,” independents tend to be slightly less pessimistic about what the next year will hold economically.

While 63 percent say think bad financial times will occur in 2010, 32 percent say good times versus 26 percent for Democrats and 18 percent for Republicans.

On issues that may appear on the 2010, a majority of independents, not surprisingly, said it was important to allow voters to select any candidate regardless of party in the primary.

Forty-seven percent of Democrats and Republicans said an open primary was important.

Only 31 percent of likely independent voters said legalizing marijuana was important. Even fewer – 18 percent favored calling a constitutional convention.

As to lowering the vote threshold for approving a budget from two-thirds, independents were only slightly higher than Republicans – 54 percent to 52 percent in assessing the issue’s importance.

Only 40 percent thought allowing same sex couples to marry was important versus 52 percent for likely Democratic and Republican voters.  However, 56 percent of voters aged 18 to 34, which represent a large part of the decline-to-state population, said the issue was important.

Potentially beneficial to GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, a former eBay executive, 50 percent of independents say experience running a business is the most important qualifier for a governor. Thirty-two percent say experience in elected office is most important, versus, for example, 60 percent of Democrats.

However, 50 percent of independent voters said they viewed candidates in a better light that used contributions from supporters to pay for their campaigns versus 29 percent who used their own money.

Of the potential gubernatorial candidates, independents broke about evenly on Attorney General Brown: 34 percent favorable, 39 percent unfavorable.

Baggage from Brown’s two-terms as governor from 1974 through 1982 may not be an issue in next year’s campaign: 69 percent of likely voters under the age of 35 cannot give an opinion of him.

Sixty-three percent of independents said they didn’t know enough about former congressman Tom Campbell to form an opinion. Those who didn’t enough to form an opinion of Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner stood at 56 percent and Meg Whitman, 44 percent. 

Perhaps because there is no independent candidate for governor, only 29 percent of decline-to-state voters express satisfaction with the choices for candidates in next year’s June primary.

As for Schwarzenegger, who independents re-elected three years ago, 54 percent now disapprove of his performance. Twenty-nine percent approve.

Approval by the governor’s own party is not much better: 35 percent of Republicans approve of his performance while 50 percent don’t.

The state Legislature, as often happens, finds its approval ratings in the teens among all voters.



Filed under: Politics


  1. Nothing in the above story will cause either the Republicans or Democrats to anything until they are thrown from office and then and only then will they see the wisdom in the polling presented.

    Comment by Management Slug — 12.28.2009 @ 9:45 pm

  2. It’s not true that independents are the only growing segment of California registration. Minor party registration is also up in California since 2008.

    Comment by Richard Winger — 12.29.2009 @ 5:48 am

  3. Furthermore, the June 2010 election —independent voters will make the difference on the Open Primary measure on the ballot. It will enable all voters to help elect the best candidates —the top two candidates will have a run-off election in November. It will stop the far left and far right of the Democratic and Republican parties to contol the out come of the elections.

    With new district lines and possible Open Primary–the June 2012 elections could help re-shape politics in California. Check out CAIVN. ORG for more information.

    Comment by David Takashima — 12.29.2009 @ 10:02 am

  4. Just because a voter does or does not think an issue is “important” does not mean they wont vote for it. If the issue is on the ballot even if the voter does not think it’s important they still will cast a vote one way or the other. The real issue is not what DTS voters think is important but how will they vote on a given issue if it IS on the ballot.

    Comment by ReilleyFam — 12.29.2009 @ 11:17 am

  5. What is “important” or not doesn’t imply either support or opposition on an issue. And these early polls are of people who have very little information relative to even the normal low levels of understanding voters have.

    Furthermore PPIC polls anyone. Only 1,565 of the 2,004 surveyed were registered and less than half, 963, are likely voters. Those who vote generally determine the outcome of elections but the poll doesn’t break out the likely voters from the whole. And who knows the effect on the results when “The survey data in this report were statistically weighted to account for any differences in demographics and telephone service.”

    Comment by jskdn — 12.29.2009 @ 11:38 am

  6. As there are no “Independent Gubernatorial” or for that fact, other Independent candidates we are forced into deciding between the two mains stream candidates and one again this year is will be choosing between the lesser of two evils. No wonder California is DOA.

    Comment by ric822 — 12.29.2009 @ 12:50 pm

  7. I have always wanted a choice at parties, err I mean of crossing over, damn you know what i mean.

    Comment by Tiger — 12.29.2009 @ 3:30 pm

  8. As far as fair election campaign of California is concerned, i am glad that people have shown great over administration. It is a good sign and we all must support good cause.

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  9. good points.I can’t agree any more. thanks very much for that..Well worth to read this article

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