By Marianela Toledo | Florida Watchdog
TAMPA — The U.S. presidential candidates are turning to independent voters now that the Republican National Convention has ended and the Democratic National Convention is about to begin.
“I have sympathy with the Republican Party, but Democrats tend to go to the other end,” said Duane Pike, president and chairman of Florida Independent Voting, a Tampa-based nonprofit dedicated to opening up closed party primaries.
The activist appears to reflect the feeling of a sector that is growing increasingly.
According to the Florida Department of State, 247,300 new voters have registered since July 2011.
Of those, 120,153, or close to 49 percent, did not register with any political party.
A memorandum from The Social Policy & Politics Program, a nonprofit “moderate” think tank based in Washington, D.C., also states that since 2008, both parties have lost voters nationally. Democratic registration fell by about 800,000, while Republicans have lost about 80,000 registered voters.
“We’re all becoming independent, because we don’t vote by party lines, but by where God leads us,” he explained while defending the position of former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, also a former Republican who now supports the Democratic Party.
“All I want is equality,” Pike told Florida Watchdog.
With the two presidential candidates tied in several polls, getting the independent vote is critical.
A Rasmussen poll released Aug. 31 shows Mitt Romney leading Barack Obama, 45 percent to 44 percent. The survey also reveals that 4 percent prefer another candidate and 7 percent are still undecided.
The poll surveyed 1,500 likely voters from Aug. 28-30 and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
“I think many independents are undecided and will make a decision after discussions,” said Pike. “If I have to vote today, I would not vote Republican. They say they don’t want regulation, but they want to regulate the rights of women. I think the Republican platform is unrealistic.”
Interview with Duane Pike:
Contact Marianela Toledo at Toledo.Marianela@gmail.com
Florida Bureau Chief Yaël Ossowski translated this article.