Analysis of California Primary

I was browsing several Secretary of State’s websites, when I trounced across California’s. I decided to take a look at the finalized primary results from February 5th. It was interesting to look at the numbers of each candidate, and especially how those votes corresponded for Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney in more than one primary.
Then I stumbled upon something interesting.
Of the 127,042 members of the Green Party, only 33,611 voted in the primary.
Of the 57,182 members of the Peace and Freedom Party, only 6,290 voted in the primary.
Of the 80,435 members of the Libertarian Party, only 16,310 voted in the primary.
Of the 328,261 members of the American Independent Party, only 44,476 voted in the primary.

Now, let us break down the numbers further. For each party we can now discern a percentage of its registrants that participated in the primary.
Green Party: 26.456%
Peace and Freedom Party: 10.999%
Libertarian Party: 20.277%
American Independent Party: 13.549%

In light of the fact that everyone always assumes the American Independent Party is existant only because of mistaken registration, I thought these numbers interesting. As I’ve stated in the past, certainly there is some element of mistaken identity, but it does not create the party itself. Let’s not forget that the American Independent Party had 25% more participation in its’ primary than the closest competitor (the Green Party) and almost three times the participation of the Libertarian Party.

18 Responses to “Analysis of California Primary”

  1. Roscoe Says:

    I wonder how many of those Libertarians are still those signed up by the bikini beach enrollers of twenty years ago?

  2. Andrew Lane Says:

    But in percentage terms the AIP had a considerably lower turn-out than the Greens and Libertarians.

    However, the point still stands. The AIP is not merely a freak of registration - even if perhaps 50% of its registered voters put the emphasis on the ‘Independent’. The AIP did of course poll fourth of four among the ‘third parties’ in the last state-wide vote for Governor and fourth of four in the last Presidential election.

  3. Trent Hill Says:

    Andrew,

    Agreed. At least some, i’d say a decent amount, of the registrants are mistaken. However, there is no doubt that the AIP can claim more active members than ANY of the other third parties in California.

    Also, although the AIP had lower turnout than Greens and Libs, it had larger turnout than the Peace and Freedom Party—so one cannot categorically say anything about AIP registration without including the Peace and Freedom Party.

  4. Tom Bryant Says:

    Of the 328,261 AIP, how many have contributed at least $1 to the party within the last 10 years?

  5. Trent Hill Says:

    Tom,

    No idea. Don’t have that info available to me. However, I could ask the same of the Libs, Greens, and Peace and Freedom Parties—and probably get a similar answer. Besides, different political ideologies have different demographics and financial sub-groups that lead to fundraising disparities, so this is not a good indicator of party-participation. The best indicator is, of course, voting in that party’s primary. Some might say that it would be voting in the general election, but this is a farse,as ANYONE can vote for ANYONE in the general election, but the primary requires members of that party to vote for candidates for that party’s nomination. Using this statistic—the AIP is by far the largest active organization, though it cannot claim to the MOST active (which I would give to the Libs or Greens).

  6. Andy Says:

    “Trent Hill Says:

    March 4th, 2008 at 1:23 pm
    Andrew,

    Agreed. At least some, i’d say a decent amount, of the registrants are mistaken. However, there is no doubt that the AIP can claim more active members than ANY of the other third parties in California.”

    Only if you count an “active member” as somebody who checked the AIP box by mistake and then went to the polls primarily to vote on the several BALLOT INITIATIVES that were on the ballot for the primary election and were given an AIP ballot since that is how they registered (by mistake).

    I know California and I know that the AIP is mostly a paper party and that the Libertarian Party and the Green Party have more active members in that state.

  7. Trent Hill Says:

    Andy,

    Why would that person even vote on the other races then? After going to the polls once, they would realize they were in a party and unregister (which is easy to do when already at the polls. Most parties will have people circling to re-register, to benefit them in the future.
    Voting on the ballot measures would be a pretty mundane excse for going to the polls and voting JUST on those issues. The most important issue on the referendum was Term Limits for Legislatures—-not exactly a galvanizing issue these days.
    Once again i’ll say—I believe mistaken registration plays a part, maybe even half of those statistics. However, the AIP-statewide candidates, which have been VERY weak in recent years, regularly get 75-100k votes. Their primary votes far exceed those of the Greens and Libs, even though the Greens and Libs have more contested primaries. The Libertarians have 11 candidates. The Greens had Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney battling it out, which boosted primary attendance. The CP had 3 candidates which everyone knew would NOT be the President, they literally have zero chance. And yes 44k people still came out and voted for them. Sorry Andy—your theories dont hold water.

  8. Lex Says:

    “Voting on the ballot measures would be a pretty mundane excuse for going to the polls and voting JUST on those issues.”

    Not if you live in California. There weren’t any blockbuster ballot measures this time around, but the ballot measures often have a bigger impact on your day-to-day life (and pocketbook) than which big-government major-party candidate wins (as if it’s even in doubt in most races.)

  9. Andy Says:

    “Trent Hill Says:

    March 4th, 2008 at 3:31 pm
    Andy,

    Why would that person even vote on the other races then? After going to the polls once, they would realize they were in a party and unregister (which is easy to do when already at the polls. Most parties will have people circling to re-register, to benefit them in the future.”

    A lot of people just fill in the boxes when they go vote. Just because people like you and I THINK before we vote, doesn’t mean that everybody does. I’ve stood in line at polling places in California next to people who were registered AIP and they didn’t even know what the party was.

    Most of these type of people are too lazy to re-register after they registered AIP by mistake (or with any other party for that matter). I’ve actually personally registered thousands of people to vote in California and I NEVER ran into even one person who know what the American Independent Party was or filled in that box on purpose. The people who filled in that box all thought that it meant that they were registering as independents - as in with no party - and when I informed them that the AIP was a party and what it was (and NO, I did not say it in a negative way), the people either requested another voter registration form so they could check a different box or political affiliation or they said something like, “Screw it, I’m in a hurry.”

    When I say that the numbers are padded for the American Independent Party in California and the Independent American Party in Nevada I do not say this out of spite, I say this from having actual on the ground political expierence in both states (especially California) and because it is the truth.

  10. Trent Hill Says:

    Andy,

    I’ve covered Nevada extensively in the past—the more local, the more successful and the higher the voter turnout vs. registration in the IAP. You’ve been unable to refute this data fully.
    The same is true here for the AIP statistics. In both cases i’m willing to admit the name is a benefit, but has not MADE the party. The fact remains that more people voted in this AIP primary than any of the other third parties’.

    Furthermore, you’ve failed to explain something else. In 2000, Phillips was the only candidate on the ballot for the AIP’s presidential primary in California. Only 8,000 people cast their votes for him, as opposed to the 44,000 who voted this year—whats the difference? Certainly the idiots at the ballot-box werent skipping over the race then but NOT now?
    No, the AIPers just didn’t goto the ballot because they knew Phillips had it wrapped.

  11. Starchild Says:

    The name of this site notwithstanding—perhaps it could be changed?—I encourage activists to use the term “alternative party” rather than “third party.” The term “third party” reinforces the notion that the two-party cartel is a permanent fact of life, and that all the alternative parties can do nothing more than compete for the #3 slot.

    “Alternative party” has much more to recommend it—people like having alternatives, and many young people in particular (the age group most likely to change their thinking) identify with alternative music, alternative fashion, etc.

    I also recommend using terms like “establishment parties” and “two-party cartel” instead of “major” or “mainstream” parties.

  12. Brian Holtz Says:

    I try to use only “nanny-state parties” when referring to the Ds and Rs.

    I don’t use “alternative party” as much as I should, perhaps because there are too many people who consider the two incumbent parties as alternatives to each other.

    I also try to avoid using “Republicrats” and “Demopublicans”, or “Coke and Pepsi” etc. The D’s are discernibly leftist, the R’s are discernibly rightist, and to pretend they’re indistinguishable marks us as politically illiterate. More importantly, treating them as indistinguishable throws away our differentiation against the voter’s other available choices (Green and CP). We are the only party that has evolved beyond the obsolete left-vs.-right dichotomy, and are the only party that wants to legislate neither personal morality nor economic equality. When we suggest that the primary difference between the LP and the Ds/Rs is that they’re in power and we’re not, we suggest that 1) we would probably be corrupted by power too and 2) any non-incumbent party is as good as any other.

    I will always believe that our marketing should be built around the Nolan Chart. Does anyone know whether the Greens or CP ever try use the Nolan Chart and claim that they occupy the moral high ground on it? I’d be very surprised if they did.

  13. Andy Says:

    “Trent Hill Says:

    March 5th, 2008 at 1:36 am
    Andy,

    I’ve covered Nevada extensively in the past—the more local, the more successful and the higher the voter turnout vs. registration in the IAP. You’ve been unable to refute this data fully.
    The same is true here for the AIP statistics. In both cases i’m willing to admit the name is a benefit, but has not MADE the party. The fact remains that more people voted in this AIP primary than any of the other third parties’.”

    I’d say that this is meaningless.

    “Furthermore, you’ve failed to explain something else. In 2000, Phillips was the only candidate on the ballot for the AIP’s presidential primary in California. Only 8,000 people cast their votes for him, as opposed to the 44,000 who voted this year—whats the difference? Certainly the idiots at the ballot-box werent skipping over the race then but NOT now?
    No, the AIPers just didn’t goto the ballot because they knew Phillips had it wrapped.”

    Man, you are really grasping at straws to make the AIP and IAP seem bigger and more important than they really are.

    The OVERWELLMING MAJORITY of AIPers in California DO NOT KNOW WHAT THE PARTY IS AND DO NOT KNOW WHO ANY OF THE CANDIDATES ARE.

  14. Andy Says:

    This is from the Wikipedia page on the American Independent Party.

    “Many political analysts have theorized that the Party, which has received very few votes in recent California elections, maintains its state ballot status because people join the Party mistakenly believing that they are registering as an ‘independent.’[1]

    As of November 2006, AIP’s registration total is 315,151. [1]”

  15. Trent Hill Says:

    ““Furthermore, you’ve failed to explain something else. In 2000, Phillips was the only candidate on the ballot for the AIP’s presidential primary in California. Only 8,000 people cast their votes for him, as opposed to the 44,000 who voted this year—whats the difference? Certainly the idiots at the ballot-box werent skipping over the race then but NOT now?
    No, the AIPers just didn’t goto the ballot because they knew Phillips had it wrapped.”

    Man, you are really grasping at straws to make the AIP and IAP seem bigger and more important than they really are.

    The OVERWELLMING MAJORITY of AIPers in California DO NOT KNOW WHAT THE PARTY IS AND DO NOT KNOW WHO ANY OF THE CANDIDATES ARE.”

    I provide statistics—you provide conjecture. Where are your stats or at least theories about my statistics above? Why did only 8000 people vote in the AIP primary in 2000, but 44,000 voted this year? There were still referendums—-and independents were showing up in nearly-record numbers then, yet the number is only 18% of this years turnout. At least provide a sensible theory Andy, instead of simply dismissing facts in favor of opinion.

  16. Cody Quirk Says:

    The IAP trumps the AIP in terms of voting, I admit that.

  17. Deemer from California Says:

    The numbers listed in the article were preliminary figures from the
    February primary. The final official totals were posted by the SoS
    Office on March 15. The American Independent Party had just over
    46 thousand votes in its primary. Granted, a few of them probably
    were Declined to State who were permitted to vote in our primary.
    However, the AIP had the 3rd highest percentage of voters that day.
    We had 45.3% voting vs. 42.4% for the Greens, 39.1% Libertarian,
    23.3% Decline to State and 21.8% Peace & Freedom. The Repub-
    licans were 58.9% and the Democrats 74.3%. So it goes to show
    that “Independent” voters are far more likely to not vote if its not
    a General election. Many of these people probably register DTS just
    in case there is someone that they really want to vote for rather
    voting on a regular basis for all campaigns.

  18. Trent Hill Says:

    Charles,

    That proves my point even better!

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