Two questions about American political parties

  1. How many turncoats ? Any estimates for each political party ?

  2. To which parties do Latinos turn when immigrating (and acquiring citizenship)?

What do you mean by ‘turncoats’? People who are registered for one party but vote the other one? If that it’s high. For most in the US a party affiliation is a weak tie. Those who vote the straight line are a dying breed.

And the issue of Latino immigrant voters is one that’s not yet decided. There are strong appeals by both parties to bring more of the Latino vote to their side but the jury is still out on that one.

Perhaps by “turncoats”, the OP is talking about only legislators that switch parties, not voters. If that’s the case, it’s pretty low. The Wikipedia article on party switching in the United States gives a pretty thorough list of US legislators who have switched parties. In the modern era the two parties have been fairly stable.

I knew that turncoats are politicians that switch parties, but I thought this term applied to all voters. So my question is: do we have any idea of how many US voters switch parties every year ?

That comes as a surprise to me. In this country (Switzerland), one is born in a party and dies in the same. Just like religious affiliation.

For the most part, the Republican and Democratic parties.

Hey, the OP asked for “parties”, in the plural.

I remember in 1995, some Republicans made accusations that Al Gore’s ReGo, or reinventing government, was not just simplifying the most onerous parts of the immigration process, but also helping the new citizens to get registered to vote by outting them in touch with registration activists from the Democratic Party. To which I responded “What do you know, he’s a Democrat after all.”

Note that some states don’t require party registration and two don’t have voter registration. Having no affiliation is also a choice, as are numerous smaller parties. About 1/3 of American voters aren’t registered in either major party.

“Latinos” is a broad enough catrgory to be meaningless. New York Puerto Ricans? California Mexicans? Miami Cubans? These are very different voting blocks with different issues and priorities.

This is a difficult question to answer, because in the United States, unless you are an elected official, it’s very hard to tell if you are a member of a political party. Generally speaking, American political parties do not have members among the general public.

Wikipedia says:

I vote in every election in which I am eligible, and in my lifetime of voting, I have always voted for the candidate of major party X, except in perhaps a half a dozen instances I might have voted for major party Y’s candidate or a minor party/independent candidate. Does that mean I was a “turncoat” in those instances?

In the United States, political parties are, in general, not based on ethnicity or other “identity” factors. The two major parties are broad coalition parties that include numerous, sometimes opposing, factions. Neither party restricts “membership” by ideology or other factors.

Religious affiliation in the United States, particularly among Protestant Christians, might also be much more fluid than in Europe. A prime example is the current president. The Bush family is traditionally Episcopalian. However, George W. Bush is Methodist, and even he is not really sure why. So far as I know, he’s never stated that he disagreed with any aspect of Episcopalianism or that he found particular affinity with any aspect of Methodism.

As far as I can tell, he married Laura Bush, who has been a lifelong Methodist, so he started going to her church.

You could get the stats at a county level or perhaps a state level, but I don’t know if anyone has the national statistics since we do not yet have a national voter database. I can tell you in my county there were about 2,000 party switchers since the November election. That’s probably a lot.

Its not the same here. In some states, party registration determines whether or not you can vote in a primary election. For instance, in a Republican dominated area, the general election is generally pointless since the Republicans will usually win (especially on a state or local level, less so on national elections). Many folks who might normally register as independent or Democrat register as Republicans so that they can at least have a say over who the Republican candidate (and eventual winner) will be. In the general elections, they still vote for the Democrat.

Sometimes folks register with party X because thats how their folks and neighbors register. but as time goes on they may develop different views and change. As a matter of fact that happened to me.

I actually had to sign something when I went to a GOP (Republican) caucus, I forget how many years ago (10?). Actually, I think it was the state caucus, which may mean I didn’t sign anything at the county meeting. I got mail from Republicans for a while. Never went out & registered as a Democrat, & in my neck of the woods, all it takes to vote in a presidential primary is registration as a voter, they hold it at the same place as the general election, & they just ask you which ballot you want. (Good thing, too, as in SW Missouri, the GOP primary can be the real race for some offices.) Pretty sure I’ve voted in at least one GOP primary & one Democratic primary.

I worked for many years for the Secretary of State of Massachusetts, and am now a pollworker for New York City. Here’s the page of party enrollments in Massachusetts for the last fifty years or so; the biggest “party” in MA is people who register to vote but then don’t check off a box for a particular party but the confusingly named “Unenrolled” box. It doesn’t affect anything–if you’re in a swing state, it means you’ll get annoyed by ALL the different parties instead of just your own–but in regular elections you vote like everybody else.

But, political primaries are usually partisan here; for example, in 2004 in NY, Republicans who walked into the primary wanting to boost Joementum or whatever had to be sent home. There was no rival to Pres. Bush and so there was no ballot for them to fill out. Democrats DID have candidates (including a couple who had already dropped out but were still on the pre-printed ballots) but you couldn’t just walk in and SAY you were a Dem, you had to be on the official rolls, which were selected and printed just to show Democrats. Of course, if you insisted a mistake had been made we would be happy to give you a special contingency ballot that would be sent to HQ and checked against the master lists.

Now of course, in Mass, it was totally different (as of '00, when I last voted there); party members voted in primaries, of course, but the Unenrolled people could walk in, fill out a simple form, and instantly enroll in the party of their choice. Then they’d walk into the booth/table/curtain/corner and punch the card/draw the circle/pull the lever/etc. etc. depending on the town you were in. They’d then take their form, tear it in half in front of the exit team, and walk out, free and Unenrolled again.

Every state is different, just as I’m sure each canton votes differently, with its own methods and technology and customs. After all, you’ve been at it about 500 years more!

And even if you are a dues-paying, card-carrying member of a political party, in my state there is no law against you walking into the polls on (primary) election day and asking for the ballot of the other party.

Although it’s true that the designation “Latino” covers a broad range of countries and cultures, nonetheless it’s possible to generalize to some degree. Latinos in the past have been more likely to register and vote as Democrats. In the 2000 Presidential election, however, the Bush campaign aggressively courted Latino voters, and while the campaign was not entirely successful, it did have an effect. Considering the closness of the '00 and '04 elections, it might’ve made the difference. However, more recent polling has shown a rapid disaffection of Latinos with the GOP. They are leaving the GOP (or planning to vote against the GOP if they have not given up their Democratic Party affiliation) in droves. One notable exception: Cubans, who are much more likely to be loyal Republicans than any other Hispanic group.

There has been a thread last year in GD, where, following some questions I asked, posters gave detailled explanations about inner workings of US parties, which have not much to do with european ones (and apparently aren’t very well understood even by american citizens).

For some reason, I can’t get the search engine to work but maybe someone will be able to find this thread.