More Florida voters turning to no party affiliation amid political polarization

NPAs outpacing new registered Democrats, Republicans in Florida
Posted at 5:22 PM, Nov 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-04 17:49:38-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — With just a few days left until the Nov. 8 election, independent voters could make the ultimate difference in the outcome of races.

As of Sept. 30, there were 5.2 million Republicans registered to vote in Florida. Democrats have slightly fewer with 4.9 million.

But there are also a little under four million voters registered as having no party affiliation (NPA).

Political parties have been around since the country started. These days it is red or blue, but many voters are now beginning to think: why choose at all?

"I'm independent," voter Jim McKinlay said.

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Jim McKinlay, Florida voter not registered with party
Jim McKinlay explains to WPTV reporter Matt Sczesny why he did not register with a political party when he moved to Florida.

He recently moved to South Florida from Massachusetts and did not register with a political party.

"I think the parties need to compromise, and they’re not doing it," McKinlay said.

He is among a growing trend of registered voters in Florida.

A recent study by Sachs Media in Tallahassee showed that since November 2020, 40% of the new 1.2 million voters in Florida registered as NPAs.

In that same time period, 23% registered as Democrats and 37% as Republicans.

The Sachs Media study also found the majority of new NPA voters in Florida since November 2022 were between 18-54 years and 49% were Hispanic.

Kevin Wagner, political science professor at Florida Atlantic University
Florida Atlantic University professor Kevin Wagner outlines why there has been a surge in voters not registering as Democrat or Republican.

According to the Florida Department of State website, there are 5,259,406 registered Republicans, 4,966,873 Democrats and 3,974,540 NPAs.

"A lot of people don't like to register for a party because party identification has become associated with ugly politics or negative politics," Kevin Wagner, a professor of political science at Florida Atlantic University.

Wagner said NPA voters generally are younger and vary in how they vote.

At the Howard Park Community Center early voting site in West Palm Beach on Friday, some voters said they split their vote while others still leaned toward one party.

Right now in Florida, NPAs still trail Republicans and Democrats but in places like Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties, they make up almost a third of voters.

How the NPAs voters cast their ballots is something that is still being studied, although early indications are they identify more toward the Democratic Party.

"I think you'll see as long as the system continues to be aggressive and negative in perception, many people you'll see pick NPA," Wagner said.

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