Though Massachusetts is considered a Democratic stronghold, the majority of its voters are not registered with either of the major parties. Thus, it is not surprising that the special election for the state’s open Senate seat has defied the expectations of the political class and mainstream media. Ironically, however, given that the majority of Bay State voters are independents, the conventional wisdom that this election too will be determined by independent voters is little more than a tautology. The Boston Globe writes:
Independent voters in Massachusetts are an unpredictable breed and downright ornery when times are bad. On Tuesday, they will determine who will be the state’s next US senator in a race too close to call, capturing the nation’s attention because the fate of a national health care overhaul hangs in the balance. Termed unenrolled voters because they are not affiliated with a party, independents constitute a majority of the registered voters in the state. Republicans, outnumbered by Democrats by more than 3 to 1, need to capture a huge majority of independents and a slice of moderate and conservative Democrats to win statewide elections. [Emphasis added.]
Gallup Polls provide some more numbers:
As Massachusetts prepares for its high-visibility special Senate election on Jan. 19, a new Gallup analysis shows that the state has significantly more residents identifying as political independents (49%) than as Democrats (35%). The percent identifying themselves as Democratic matches the national average, while the percent independent is well above the national norm.