In Colorado, Voters Reserve The Right To Choose
At the upscale Cherry Creek Mall in Denver, Scott Kardos, 24, is shopping with his girlfriend and her parents. The recent college graduate with an electrical engineering degree said he's not so interested in being either a Democrat or a Republican.
"I don't really identify with either party. A lot of the things I agree with the Republican side and a lot of things I agree on the Democrat side. So, can't really decide on either one and I flip flop pretty much every other election on who I'd rather vote for," explained Kardos.
He is part of a growing national trend, especially in battleground states like Colorado.
The centrist think tank Third Way studied eight key states and found that both major parties are losing voters, while the number of independents continues to grow.
Third Way analyst Lanae Erickson said in Colorado, it's practically a three-way tie in registration.
"Independents actually rose by nearly 10 percent in Colorado just since 2008," Erickson said. "So there's been a huge surge in independent voters. And, so, as a proportion of the electorate, independents have really gained on both parties."
That's not good news for Ryan Call, the state GOP chief running Tuesday's caucus.
Officials do not expect more than 10 percent of registered Republicans to show up. But Call said the caucus is still good for energizing the base and recruiting the volunteers who will help voter outreach, including to independents.
"So [independents are] not getting a lot of calls right now, but it is a very important priority for us as a party to make sure we're reaching out," said Call.
Dissatisfied With Both Parties
Brady Maughan, a registered independent, said he is turned off by politics and by both major parties.
Maughan said he's repulsed by the bickering of the Republican candidates and doesn't want to be part of either party.
"Especially, right now, we want to blame [President George W.] Bush for the last eight years for the reasons why Obama hasn't succeeded. We want to blame Obama for not fixing everything that needed to be fixed and nobody wants to take responsibility for themselves," said Maughan.
Maughan, 36, works in advertising and has had to take pay cuts and take in a roommate because of the economic downturn. He said he opposed the bank bailouts and wants less government regulation. But he also has no health insurance, so he likes President Obama's health care policy.
Room For A November Surprise
Colorado Pollster Floyd Ciruli said independent voters are hard to pin down. They usually wait until the last minute to make up their minds.
"It just sort of makes our polling and our elections volatile," said Ciruli.
Obama won Colorado by 9 percentage points in 2008. Nationwide, he captured 52 percent of the independent votes.
But a recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that more than half of independents now disapprove of the job the president is doing.
Maughan, who said he voted for Republican George W. Bush twice and Democrat Barack Obama four years ago, said he's not sure how he'll vote this year.
"I'm going to vote for the person that I want to vote for and, hopefully, that person puts the least of amount barriers in my way," said Maughan. "But regardless, of what happens I got to take care of me. That's why I'm independent."