The Independence Party has stopped the bleeding.
After leaving a major footprint on Minnesota State House races in the 2000, 2002, and 2004 elections, the number of IP candidates on the ballot greatly declined in 2006 to just nine districts. At the time of the close of Tuesday’s filing deadline, 10 districts will see an IP candidate's name on the ballot in November’s general election (Districts 01A, 03A, 04A, 07B, 11A, 51A, 54B, 58B, 59A, and 59B).
In 2000, the IP fielded candidates in 27 House races – a significant 20 percent of all districts in the state. That number held steady at 27 in 2002, dropping slightly to 21 districts in 2004 (16 percent of all districts). The plunge to just nine districts in 2006 marked a low-point for the Party, although its candidates were able to average 5.7 percent of the vote. That number, however, had also fallen from high points in 2000 (9.9 percent) and 2002 (10.1 percent). In 2004, the 21 candidates averaged 7.1 percent of the vote.
Rightly or wrongly, the Independence Party, which still holds major party status in the state thanks to Peter Hutchinson garnering 6.4 percent of the 2006 gubernatorial vote, has faced an identity crisis in recent years due to the perception that it is closely aligned with the platform of the DFL.
Many of the Core Values of the IP’s platform, do suggest an ideological overlap with Democratic Party principles (e.g. protecting the environment, defense of personal liberties, embracing diversity etc.); however, other Core Values not so long ago would have been associated with the GOP (e.g. local government control, fiscal responsibility).
The impact of the Independence Party on the DFL and Republican vote will be examined at Smart Politics later this week.