Orange County DEC's Replicated in SF???

Dear Everyone;

An article about the DEC's of Orange County which I believe could apply to us and our efforts to turn DEC's into Libertarians through a postcard and web site program.

Ron Getty
SF Libertarian

http://www.ocregist er.com/ocregiste r/news/abox/ article_1202081. php

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Citizens refusing to affiliate with a political party Decline-to-state voters are up as much as 29 percent in county
communities since 2002.

By SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON
The Orange County Register

FULLERTON - Orange County's fourth-oldest city has a tradition of standing out. It boasts the region's first community college, two flight instructors who set a world flying endurance record and a
native son who pioneered electric guitars.

More recently, Fullerton has become a trendsetter in electoral politics, leading a growing wave of county voters refusing to register with a political party. These citizens, officially registering as "decline-to- state," account for the largest percentage increase in voters in every O.C. community since the last, regular gubernatorial election in 2002.

Experts say these swing voters - motivated by pocketbook issues rather than party loyalty - are key to candidates seeking statewide office in California, given no political party here holds a majority.

So what is motivating the growing number of voters in Orange County to shun party labels?

"It's about flexibility, " explained Renee Jonard, 28, one of six residents on her quiet, tree-lined street in Fullerton who registered as decline-to-state since the November election. She said she especially likes being able to do something party-affiliated voters can't: Choose during primary elections whether to fill out a Democratic, Republican or American Independent ballot.

"I wanted to maintain my neutrality," added fellow Fullerton resident, Leanora Salazar, 22, a Cal State Fullerton art history major who registered as decline-to-state last November. "I also don't want to be getting any political mailings, spam, anything like that because I'm registered with a party."

Experts in voter behavior say they are not surprised by the non-partisan surge in Orange County.

Decline-to-state voters "are looking for a party that's hands off in terms of social policy, hands off in terms of taxes and probably fairly strong on environmental issues," explained Democratic strategist Darry Sragow. "It's tough for a huge mega party - which is essentially what Democratic and Republican parties are - to encompass that mix of opinions and views."

The rise in decline-to-state voters is particularly evident among younger Californians, added Republican strategist Dan Schnur.

"This is a generation that can choose between 500 cable channels and an unlimited number of downloads for their iPods," he said. "They are not restricted to binary choices in any other aspect of their lives so it only makes sense that they reject that type of restriction when it comes to politics."

An increase in Latino and Asian voters also appears to be fueling the decline-to-state drive, said Mark DiCamillo, director of the non-partisan Field Poll. New Americans tend to have less attachment to traditional political parties, he explained.

The result of the growing, apolitical trend could be a toning down of campaign rhetoric, says Mark Petracca, who heads UC Irvine's political science department.

Strategists for GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his Democratic rival, State Treasurer Phil Angelides - both angling for decline-to-state votes -- said they welcomed the trend.

"If the gap narrows and there are fewer Democratic partisans statewide, that for Arnold is actually a good thing. Arnold's appeal is more to the middle," said chief Schwarzenegger strategist Matthew Dowd.

Angelides' campaign media consultant, Bill Carrick, countered that local increases in decline-to-state voters hurt the GOP, given Orange has been the "strongest Republican county in the state."

"The most important thing about them (declined-to- states) is that their focus is usually on... pocketbook issues," Carrick said. "What we've found is that they are worried... about quality-of-life issues, so all those things are things you can get into a conversation with voters about."

Copyright 2006 The Orange County Register