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For Minor Party Candidates, Independent Voters Might Not Spell Success In NY-19


WALTON, NY (WSKG) -- It’s been a frustrating campaign season for Steve Greenfield. He’s the Green Party candidate in New York’s 19th congressional district.

“I’m an on the ballot congressional candidate," he said. "I’m not even an independent. I’m in a New York state registered party.”

Greenfield’s recounting a conversation with a pollster who called him up and asked him who he’s voting for to represent him in Congress: Republican John Faso or Democrat Antonio Delgado.

“The pollster asked me if I was voting for John Faso and I said 'no'. Then the follow up question was ‘are you voting for Antonio Delgado?’ and I said ‘no’. And then the follow up question to that was ‘so then you’re undecided?’," Greenfield said.

"And I said ‘no, I’m not undecided. I’m voting for myself.”

Greenfield along with former Law and Order Actress Diane Neal are offering themselves as another option. Neal says the way independent candidates are discouraged to run by the major parties is disappointing.

"Especially calling me like a spoiler," she said. "And I’m like, 'you guys you do realize that the largest voting block in this district are inde--technically you guys are splitting like the independent vote. You’re spoiling that vote. So stop telling me I’m splitting the vote.'"

A fact check on what Neal said, the number of registered independent voters in the 19th district is nowhere close to those in the Republican or Democratic parties. However, there are more active independent voters in the 19th than any other district in the state.

Still, just because a voter is registered independent doesn’t mean they’re actually independent.

“Political science research has shown that of people who say ‘oh I don’t want to affiliate with either of the two parties’. About two-thirds of them, if pushed, will say ‘well yeah I actually lean toward the Democratic party’ or ‘I lean toward the Republican party’," said Laurel Elder, political science professor at Hartwick College. "So they’re referred to often as partisan leaners.”

Meanwhile, the other one-third tend to be apolitical and those people are some of the least likely to vote, whereas the more partisan are more likely to vote.

“Some people call it the tale of two electorates," Elder said.

"We have voters who are very Democratic [or] very Republican, they follow the news closely, they turn out to vote at high rates. And then you have people who are not affiliated with either of the parties, they don’t follow the news closely and they don’t turn out to vote at a very high rate.”

There are exceptions to that rule, but in the aggregate, Elder said, it’s true.

For Greenfield he’s hoping that does change. He says flipping the people who normally don’t vote to vote for someone like him is the key to winning an election like this one.