The Independence Party of Minnesota has experienced a noticeable decline in support across Minnesota – as evidenced in its performance last month. This decline is revealed across a number of dimensions and offices, including a decreased ability to field candidates in state legislative races since 2000 (the year it disassociated itself from the national Reform Party).
Support for IP candidates in statewide races declined in 4 of 5 offices from 2002 to 2006: Governor (declining 16.2 to 6.4 percent), Secretary of State (4.5 to 3.0 percent), Attorney General (4.4 to 4.1 percent), and State Auditor (4.8 to 4.6 percent). The Independence Party candidate for US Senator did increase from 2.0 to 3.2 percent, although this was lower than the 5.8 percent the IP received for that race in 2000).
In State House races the number of Independence Party candidates has dropped from 27 in 2000, to 26 in 2002, to 20 in 2004, to just 9 in 2006. These candidates also received the lowest level of support per district in which they ran in 2006 (5.7%), down from 7.4% in 2004, 10.3% in 2002, and 9.9% in 2000.
In the State Senate only 7 Independence Party candidates were on the ballot in 2006 averaging 6.9 percent of the vote per district, less than twice the number of candidates in 2002 (16), in which candidates averaged 12.4 percent of the vote per district.
One bright spot for the Independence Party was its performance in US House races. The IP fielded 3 candidates,
equaling the number on the ballots in 2004 and 2000. Tammy Lee (MN-5) recorded the highest level of voter support for the Party in a US House this decade (21.0 percent).
The Independence Party will retain its major party status in 2008, thanks to Peter Hutchinson’s performance in the race for governor, but the party is facing an increased difficulty in distinguishing itself from the DFL, who appears to be drawing support away from IP candidates.