Common Cause/NY Releases New Report on New York’s Unaffiliated Voters

On November 20th, Common Cause/NY released a report on the more than 3.1 million politically unaffiliated (also known as “Blank”) voters in New York State – a group that is steadily growing as more Americans become disillusioned with the two party system. These voters, who represent 24% of New York’s electorate, are politically active but locked out of New York’s closed primary process because they are not registered to a political party. The report published today provides a deeper understanding of who New York’s unaffiliated voter population is and details their support for potential changes to the state’s primary laws as a starting point for future policy reform.

WATCH press briefing here.

“Voters in New York are changing – with more than ever before registered without a political party. In the parts of New York that heavily lean to one party, these voters have little to no say in who represents them in all levels of government. Our new report digs deep into how they think politically and their desire to vote in party primaries, while keeping their unaffiliated status. Our hope is that New York’s lawmakers take these voters seriously, work quickly to address their concerns and bring these in-tune voters into the fold,” said Sarah Goff, Deputy Director of Common Cause/NY.

Key findings from the report:

  • Overall unaffiliated voters are engaged in politics and think voting is important. They believe it’s their civic duty to vote and they want to have a voice.
  • Nearly 90% of unaffiliated voters stated they would vote in primaries and say they currently do not feel like they have a voice in the political system.
  • Demographically, unaffiliated voters are predominantly white, college educated, live in the suburbs, and are over the age of 40. Politically they most identify as moderate or independents.
  • Unaffiliated voters have a strong, clear preference for flexible policy solutions, specifically policies that do not require them to affiliate with a political party in order to vote in primary elections.
  • Keeping their unaffiliated status is critically important to unaffiliated voters, who express overwhelming support for flexible policy solutions but stated that a temporary party affiliation would be a dramatic deterrent for them if required during a primary election.

Common Cause New York conducted a statewide poll and qualitative focus groups of unaffiliated voters in the late summer and fall of 2023 to develop and analyze clear, actionable data on unaffiliated voters, understand their motivations, and identify any policy proposals that could deepen and strengthen their civic and electoral engagement. The New York Community Trust provided funding for this report.

The first phase of research consisted of a phone and web survey offered in English, Spanish, and Chinese. 600 responses were collected from voters in New York state this summer including an oversample of high-propensity voters. The second phase of research consisted of four focus groups with twenty-five total participants conducted this fall.

Read the full report here.