Many Kansans are asking if the political landscape of Kansas and America has begun to change. Looking at the numbers, the answer has to be “Yes”.
The Kansas Secretary of State provides voter registration statistics on their website. The data is published irregularly, and the most current published numbers for voter registration are from June 1st 2010. When we look at these statistics we find some surprising facts.
- Using the most current published statistics, 2010 Year-To-Date, the only political party with positive growth in registered voters is the Libertarian Party of Kansas. Republican, Democrat, and Reform have lost voters.
- In the last 11 months the same holds true. The Libertarian Party shows growth; all other parties have been shrinking.
- The same is also true for the last 18 months.
- In the last 22 months, both the Libertarian and Democrat Party show positive growth while the Republican and Reform demonstrate a near two year trend of losses in the number of registered voters. As a percentage, the Libertarian Party’s growth over this time is three times greater than that of the Democrat Party.
- The only other category that has shown growth similar to the Libertarian Party of Kansas is unaffiliated voters. Data from the most recent months shows that the Libertarian Party’s growth is even eclipsing that of the unaffiliated voters.
The graph below visually displays these trends in Kansas Political Party Growth (or Shrinkage).
It’s not just voter registration data that demonstrates this morphing of the political landscape. A recent Gallup Poll showed that nationwide 58% of Americans want a third political party.
“The desire for a third party is fairly similar across ideological groups, with 61% of liberals, 60% of moderates, and 54% of conservatives believing a third major party is needed. That is a narrower gap than Gallup has found in the past; conservatives have typically been far less likely than liberals and moderates to support the creation of a third party.” 9/17 Gallup Poll
There are certainly arguments that some will use to explain away these statistics. Some will accurately point out that while the Libertarian Party of Kansas is the only party in Kansas that has demonstrated sustained growth over the last two years; its membership is still miniscule compared to the establishment parties. As of June 2010, The Republicans had 739,652 registered voters compared to the Libertarians’ just 9,838. The counter argument to that is that the Libertarians have found ways to grow even without full access to the primaries and to the debates. What will happen when they achieve major party status by receiving 5% of the statewide vote in the governor’s race? It’s hard to imagine their trend line being any more impressive, but with major party status it seems a safe assumption that their growth will indeed change the political landscape of Kansas.