No wonder people are registering as nonpartisans
At this rate, it won’t be long before nonpartisans and minor party members are the majority of active voters in Nevada.
The most recent voter registration numbers show that 40 percent of active voters have opted not to belong to either major political party — with just over 31 percent of active voters registering as Democrats and slightly more than 28 percent as Republicans. In other words, “none of the above” is, apparently, a more attractive option for a growing number of voters than either of the two main partisan tribes that dominate our electoral process.
And it’s easy to see why.
While there are individual Republican politicians — including Governor Joe Lombardo — who have managed to earn relatively broad public support, the internal civil war taking place within the GOP has deeply damaged the party’s overall brand among mainstream voters.
For example, the recent divide between MAGA Republicans and the rest of the party over who should be Speaker of the House was a political nightmare on the national level. While certain members of the GOP undoubtedly raked in plenty of campaign donations as a result of the intraparty squabble, the broader public simply saw it as evidence that the GOP can’t even manage a single chamber of the legislature without self-immolation, let alone all of government.
Here in Nevada, we have experienced a similar self-destructive plunge toward intraparty civil war as party leaders prize fealty to former president Donald Trump above all else — sacrificing even the pretense of pragmatism or political competence in the process. No wonder Gov. Lombardo has taken aim at the dysfunction of the state party by describing the ill-advised decision to proceed with a caucus as an “unacceptable” process that will disenfranchise voters.
Indeed, at virtually every level, the GOP is proving itself to be disorganized, splintered and at war with itself — undoubtedly leaving many voters unwilling to join its ranks as long as it’s held hostage by the most extreme factions of its base.
And as gleeful as Democrats might feel about the chaos on the right, polling indicates voters aren’t exactly thrilled by the left’s brand of partisan politics either.
Even with a near super-majority status in the state legislature and an exceptionally favorable district map drawn by members of their own party, campaign season in Nevada isn’t going to be a walk in the park for team blue. With Republicans hammering a number of Democratic lawmakers for having relationships with nonprofits that received public funds from last session’s “Christmas tree” bills, the party is bound to run into some branding issues of its own.
In fact, it already has.
Recently, the state’s largest school district blasted Nevada Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager (D-Las Vegas) for allowing his party members to “improperly direct funds” to those nonprofits despite having ostensible “conflicts” of interest. Sure, that attack was in response to Yeager rightfully calling for the resignation of Superintendent Jesus Jara as the district remains embroiled in contract negotiations with the teachers union — but such public bickering is a reminder to voters that the Democratic Party’s success in stifling Republican-lead reforms hasn’t exactly “fixed” many of our educational woes.
Even more pressing, however, is the fact that Democrats are facing their own worrisome internal conflicts with radical elements that threaten to irreparably damage their value with ordinary voters.
In recent weeks, many Americans have been alerted to a dark aspect of “progressive” politics that had gone largely unnoticed in recent years. As pro-Palestinian activists protested Israel’s response to the unfathomable terrorist attacks of October 7, an uncomfortable amount of antisemitic speech has proliferated from far-left ecosystems — including socialist organizations, social justice movements and even Ivy League universities.
Such antisemitism has sparked an uncomfortable conversation within the Democratic Party about the ugly ideologies that have pervaded its own side of the political aisle. And while these hateful factions of the party’s base don’t represent the average Democratic voter any more than a few white nationalists wielding tiki torches represented average Republicans, it has nonetheless unveiled a rotting slice of the American left that had been previously flying under most people’s radar.
To be sure, antisemitism is not exclusive to any single political movement. However, when enclaves of “progressive” activists act as apologists for genocidal terrorists, it serves as a startling reminder that grotesque ideologies and prejudices aren’t exclusive merely to “the other” party.
Given the attention such radical factions often receive in partisan politics, it’s understandable that many Americans are starting to believe “the lesser of two evils” is far more literal than figurative when it comes to the generic ballot. As a result, is it really a surprise that a growing number of voters seem willing to declare independence from such an unattractive two-party duopoly?
This growing independence among voters is going to have a palpable impact on electoral politics moving forward — even if most voters still end up selecting candidates with an R or a D next to their name on election day. More “split tickets,” the rise of “spoiler” third party candidates or even a fundamental change to our electoral process (such as Question 3 in Nevada) could very well be in our not-too-distant future as more voters flee the two-party status quo.
After all, with roughly 40 percent of the electorate deciding to distance themselves from the unrepresentative and unattractive radicals in both major political tribes, how could such changes not be imminent?
Michael Schaus is a communications and branding expert based in Las Vegas, Nevada, and founder of Schaus Creative LLC — an agency dedicated to helping organizations, businesses and activists tell their story and motivate change. He has more than a decade of experience in public affairs commentary, having worked as a news director, columnist, political humorist, and most recently as the director of communications for a public policy think tank. Follow him at SchausCreative.com or on Twitter at @schausmichael.
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