Sioux Falls S.D. - Ahead of Tuesday’s midterm election, a growing number of people seem to be claiming no party affiliation and those Independents could end up playing a crucial role in the outcome.
An analysis by non-profit news organization 'South Dakota News Watch' said Independent voters will likely be key, especially in South Dakota’s gubernatorial election. This as the state and the nation continue to see more people registering along non-traditional party lines.
“I think there’s a lot of, sometimes, a lot of shame involved with what political party you're involved with,” Sioux Falls voter Joe Hiatt said.
South Dakota has been following a national trend of more people registering as Independents or "no party affiliation." According to 'South Dakota News Watch', the Secretary of State’s office said more than 126,000 people in the state are registered Independents.
“It’s not very surprising because I think people are becoming a little bit more developed in their thought processes and just not following party lines,” Sioux Falls voter Taylor Suess said.
Julia Hellwege is an assistant political science professor at USD and said she’s noticed more people saying they're tired of career politicians and established political parties.
“And that we really need to spend more time really studding the candidates and studying the issues. A lot of people want to hear more of the complex story is what they're saying,” Hellwege said.
“Depending on where you are, it could be an even split between who just tends to stay Republican or stay voting Democrat. By catching all those intermediate voters that’s where you can gain the biggest advantage politically,” Suess said.
Hellwege said having more Independent voters means more work for candidates.
“They as candidates can’t simply rely on that party affiliation. They need to speak to Independents who usually are moderates,” Hellwege said.
Both parties have been working on just that.
“Independents are voters that we want to vote for us because they have not already expressed interest in voting Democrat. So we make specialized pitches to that demographic with post cards and mailings and such,” South Dakota Republican Party Finance Director Dave Roetman said.
“It’s always great to have more people coming to your events and you don’t have to motivate them as much if they're already a Democrat. But, totally respect that people are deciding to be Independents. People just don’t feel connected to either party as much these days and we understand that. So we are just working to bring people in now,” South Dakota Democratic Party Executive Director Sam Parkinson said.
Hellwege said being an Independent voter also usually means more work as they tend to spend more time than voters who fall along traditional party lines researching the candidates.
A lot of activist groups are saying no matter you party affiliation it’s important to get out and vote Tuesday to have your voice heard.