My intention is not to help sow any "chaos," since for all we know, Mitt Romney might be able to come in for a clean landing or a knockout punch on that last Tuesday in January, the way the latest polls are trending. No, it's nothing as nefarious as what Limbaugh attempted to do — it's simply a way to participate in the democratic process under the current rules, which in Florida means that only registered Republicans can participate in their presidential primary (and likewise with Democrats).
The Sunshine State is hardly an outlier when it comes to political parties controlling the process for only their "own" to participate in. According to Fairvote.org, most states have closed or semi-closed presidential primaries. CL counted 12 states that have completely open primaries. In some states, like North and South Dakota, Democrats have an open primary, but Republicans do not.
Such closed party voting shuts out what we've heard for years is the largest segment of voters out there, independents, who prefer not to be affiliated with a major political party. (If they're registered Libertarian, Green, etc., that's still considered to be non-party affiliated, since those parties are not aligned with the conglomerates that are the Democratic and Republican parties.)
But you see the problem here, right? President Obama's numbers have dropped with all sorts of demographic groups since he came into office nearly three years ago, but the group that concerns the White House probably the most is those independent voters (shoring up the base ranks right up there as well, of course).
So say that independent voter isn't enamored with Obama, but doesn't like Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney or any of the other leading candidates? What's he or she supposed to do until next fall? Sit out the election? Maybe they'd vote for a Jon Huntsman or a Ron Paul or whomever. If they had the chance.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that nationally, Republicans were "slightly ahead" in new registrations in 2011.
In Florida, one of the leading groups that has traditionally signed up new voters, the League of Women Voters, announced earlier this year that they would refrain from doing so for 2012 after the Legislature passed an elections bill that dramatically reduces the time that such third-party groups have to bring some registrations into their local Supervisor of Elections office.
Floridians have until next Tuesday, January 3, to register for the January 31 GOP presidential primary.