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Independents? In Florida?

Independents helped lift John McCain to victory in Florida. Really. As widely (and accurately) reported, Florida's GOP primary was limited to registered Republicans, so how did independents play such a decisive role?

The answer is a twisted tale of state law, election procedures and survey research. But at root, there is a difference between party registration and party identification.

In some states, voters do not register by party; in others, non-party voters are allowed to participate in nomination contests. And registering for a party is not about subscribing to a fixed set of beliefs; anyone eligible to vote can declare themselves a Democrat or a Republican on the voter rolls.

In contrast to the wide diversity of registration requirements, everyone can have an opinion about whether they are a Democrat, a Republican, an independent or something else. So that is what most pollsters have been asking about since the early 1950s, as have exit pollsters in national elections for the past 36 years.

When someone indicates on a survey that he or she is an "independent," it is about general, or current, orientation to politics, not a declaration of affinity for the "Independent Party." Some registered Republicans and Democrats may choose not to drape themselves in a party label on election day, or even consider themselves closer to the other major party.

This past summer, in partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, the Post released a major survey of political independents. For more information, click here.

By Jon Cohen  |  January 31, 2008; 12:51 PM ET
Categories:  Polls  
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I have some friends that are Democrats that live in a very Republican area of Florida. They are registered as Republicans, so they can vote in the Republican primary. That is the only way they can have any say in local elections.

Posted by: rdlwolverine | January 31, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

O.K., Washington Post, so where is the link that PROVES independents played a decisive role again?

Posted by: JakeD | January 31, 2008 6:01 PM | Report abuse

On election Day = do like Georgia does - allow CROSS OVER VOTING

I am a Republican w/ Libertarian tendencies.

Posted by: James Holland | January 31, 2008 9:46 PM | Report abuse

John McCain is a LIBERAL... Here in Florida the Conservatives were snookered by our governor Crist and Senator Martinez... Our Lt. Gov. Came out for Romney and the LIBERAL MEDIA gave not a drop of ink nor one minute of time to that fact. This was a travesty in both cases. We have other POWs' who will not set down at the same table with John McCain.
Us Vietnam vets remember tht he sang like a cannary whilst he was a prisoner and when he came back home he CRIED on his Father Admiral McCain's Shoulder in SHAME...

Posted by: James Holland (again) | January 31, 2008 9:53 PM | Report abuse

well we need some one who can beat a socialist democrat in November its Ron Paul or mc Cain they have the most supprot of common americans.

Posted by: david | February 1, 2008 5:05 AM | Report abuse

Like, Duuuhhhhh!!!!

Posted by: rat-the | February 1, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Golly, you think so Einstein?


Posted by: rat-the | February 1, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I'd take a closer look not at independents but at Latino voters, who broke for McCain, as Simon Rosenberg points out here:

Hispanics are one of the main demographics that are going to drive this election and English-language media would be wise to keep an eye on what Spanish-language media will be doing to inform voters. Just consider this recent partnership between V-Me (Spanish-language TV) and ImreMedia:

Posted by: Polymathic | February 1, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

John McCain is just a terrible person...
In sending McCain to the white house republicans will be no better than the democrats with Bill Clinton!

Posted by: Daniel | February 2, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I am a Florida resident and it is false that one must pretend to be a Republican in order to cast their vote for a Democrat or have any say in their local elections. This is United States Of American. Land of freedoms of choice, speech and opportunities.

Posted by: Liberty | February 5, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse

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