Calif. GOP Alienates Independents

Barred from primary, unenrolled voters turn to Democrats
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Jan 21, 2008 1:54 PM CST
Democratic presidential hopefuls Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., left, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., participate in a Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2008. If the...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The California GOP decided last year to bar independent voters from its presidential primary, and the decision may cost the party dearly, the LA Times reports. Independents are welcome to vote in the Democratic primary—and once they've voted for a party in a primary, they usually stick to it in the general election, experts say.

One Democratic strategist calls the decision a "serious, perhaps fatal error." Independents constitute a record 19.3% of the state's registered voters; with 42.7% Democrats, that leaves the GOP (33.6%) outnumbered by roughly 2 to 1. "It's pretty hard to build a big tent if you don't let anybody else in," said one Republican consultant.