May 19, 2016
A new analysis finds nearly 32,000 voters in California’s American Independent Party changed their official registration and left the party in the two weeks after a Los Angeles Times investigation identified widespread confusion among the party’s members.
The change comes after a series of stories last month about voters who had intended to be politically independent, what’s known in California as having “no party preference.” A poll conducted for The Times found 73% of American Independent Party members did not know they had registered with an actual political party.
Paul Mitchell, a political data specialist whose firm sells exclusive analyses of voter data to California political campaigns, worked with The Times on the stories. He conducted the new analysis for The Times on a pro-bono basis.
Using voter data from each of California’s 58 counties, Mitchell found that 31,772 AIP voters left the party in the two weeks prior to May 1. The first story was published in The Times on April 17.
The party gained 10,744 new members during the same two-week period — thus resulting in a net registration loss of 21,028 voters.
The exodus equates to about 6.7% of the AIP’s total registration as of mid-April, which was 473,481 voters.
By comparison, the ranks of Democratic and Republican voters in that same time frame each shrank by a fraction — less than three-tenths of 1%.
Mitchell, who has led an informal but vocal campaign for several years warning voters to not confuse being “independent” with joining the American Independent Party, said it’s unusual to see such a large number of voters revising their official status.
“A voter changing registration is extremely rare,” he said. “Seeing this, in a very short period of time, it’s a really big and significant number.”
Elections officials in counties across California have recounted several years of voters being confused by the party’s use of the word “independent” in its name — a name that dates back to the founding of the AIP during the 1968 presidential campaign of former Alabama Gov. George Wallace.
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