This opinion by Alan Novak and T.J. Rooney is published by The Washington Post:
While there is no single factor at the root of our political dysfunction, it is clear that the American electorate is rapidly changing and both parties have failed to adapt. In most states, membership in the Democratic and Republican parties has stagnated or is in decline. More and more voters are registering as independents. Nearly half of millennials and Gen Z voters describe themselves as independents. Data collected by the Open Primaries Education Fund also shows that independents are already the largest or second-largest group of voters in half of states. At current rates of growth, that will soon be the case in every state. In our home state of Pennsylvania alone, there are more than 1 million independent voters who can’t vote in primaries — that’s more voters than in neighboring Delaware.
Independents are often shut out of primary elections. Primaries may be taxpayer-funded — in our state alone, they cost the public $20 million every year — but the Democratic and Republican parties are the gatekeepers of U.S. primaries and, by design, they choose who can and can’t participate. Keeping primaries closed for the growing segment of the population that has not registered with a party is one of the few issues both parties seem to agree on.
That’s because primary elections don’t just matter; they have become the most important round of elections in the United States today. General election competitiveness in our country is in long-term decline. In Pennsylvania last year, only 5 percent of contests in the state House and 16 percent in the state Senate were competitive. Thirty-four percent of state House races and 24 percent of state Senate races were uncontested. Uncontested! Our state is by no means unique; it’s the norm.
Read the full story here.