The Kansas Meadowlark

June 14, 2006


In Kansas are more Republicans becoming Democrats, or  
are more Democrats becoming Republicans?


 In recent months several Republicans changed to Democrats to run for public office:

One blog boasted last Saturday, "The mass exodust (sic)  from the GOP in Kansas continues."   What constitutes a "mass" exodus?  Both blogs and news stories have covered this topic, almost ad nauseum:  

Mike Gaughan, executive director of the state Democratic Party, said: "I think that Kansans are recognizing that the Kansas Democratic Party is the party putting partisanship aside."   Surely this was a tongue in cheek comment?  Did Gaughan really say this with a straight face?

The Kansas Secretary of State reported 1,688,556 voters in March 2005, and 1,645,736 in May 2006.  (The population in many areas in Kansas is in decline, and many voters were still being removed in 2005 from not voting in 2004 and 2000.  Federal Law prevents deleting many voters from the list that have moved and not reported a change of address until they have missed voting in two presidential elections.)  

Voters from March 2005 and May 2006 were compared to identify how many changed political parties.  1,536,995 voters were matched from both time periods and studied for party changes.  Not all voters could be matched because some were new, some moved or changed names, or for a variety of technical reasons.  

The results are shown below:

Kansans Changing Political Parties Between March 2005 and May 2006

From
(March 2005)

Voters

To (May 2006)

 
Unknown D F L R U %
D 411,569 1 409,355 4 36 856 1,317 26.78
F 1,396 - 8 1,355 1 16 16 0.09
L 8,279 - 30 1 8,118 40 90 0.54
R 714,697 4 1,008 10 46 711,787 1,842 46.50
U 401,054 935 1,101 8 75 1,525 397,410 26.09
    1,536,995 940 411,502 1,378 8,276 714,224 400,675 100.00%

%

100.00 0.06 26.77 0.09 0.54 46.47 26.07   

D=Democrat, F=Reform, L=Libertarian, R=Republican, U=Unaffiliated (Independent)

Note:  Almost all of  the "Unknown" party designations are from Cloud County, where
apparently their county clerk fell asleep while updating voter records. 

Since March 2005, only 1008 - 856 = 152 more Kansas Republicans became Democrats than Democrats that became Republicans.  So, 152 voters appear to be a "mass exodus."  BUT, what about percentages?   

856 out of 411,569 Democrats became Republicans.  That's 0.208%.

1,008 out of 714,697 Republicans became Democrats.  That's 0.141%.  

The defection rate from Democrats to Republicans is 150% the rate of Republicans defecting to Democrats.

Ignoring the 940 folks in Cloud County that are of unknown political party, 1,101 Independent voters from March 2005 became Democrats (0.275%), and 1,525 Independent voters became Republicans (0.38%).  While the Democrats are bragging about changes in certain numbers, they certainly are ignoring all percentages.  Of course, all of this is statistical non-sense even though one could not tell by recent press reports that find great statistical significance where none exists.  

The voter "defections" are likely to be a very small part of the 2006 elections in Kansas.  What is much more important?  Perhaps political money?  

Sebelius' recent veto of campaign finance reporting in Kansas allows one of the biggest Kansas Democrat contributors to hide what he is doing until well after the election, like he did in both 2002 and 2004.  Democratic Governor Sebelius surely wanted to veto any provision that might hinder a contributor that has given as much as $300,000 in an election cycle to Democratic causes with minimal reporting by the Kansas press.   The same Democratic donor was protected by another Sebelius' veto last year.  No quid pro quo here?  

Emily's List is helping Sebelius raise the $10 million they think she'll need to win.  But with Sebelius' national stature growing, surely the political money Sebelius attracts to Kansas will be far more important, and make a much bigger impact, than the paltry number of party changes seen in Kansas over the last year.


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