There is a movement among some North Carolina Republicans to close the party's primaries to independents because they think allowing them to vote results in excessively moderate candidates being nominated. But is that claim really true?
Independents are often thought of as being straight down the middle voters who split their tickets and shift from party to party on an election by election basis. Even within the ranks of independents there are few voters who actually fit that stereotype- most lean strongly toward one party or the other but just don't feel like identifying themselves with one.
In North Carolina our independents are a conservative leaning bunch. 49% are moderates but among the rest of the crew 41% are conservatives and just 10% are liberals.
Let's take a closer look at the independent voters most likely to vote in Republican primaries though- those who disapprove of Barack Obama's job performance. Within that group 65% are conservatives and 34% are moderates.
The ideological identification of Republican voters in the state breaks down 71% conservatives and 27% moderates. Throw those Obama disapproving independents into that mix and you end up with a likely Republican primary electorate that's 69% conservatives and 29% moderates.
When you actually look at the numbers the premise that allowing unaffiliateds to vote in Republican primaries gives moderates undue power is false. The independents who participate in GOP primaries are almost as conservative as registered Republican voters.
It would seem this movement is being driven by emotions rather than facts. Beyond that I don't think the party's problem in recent elections has been the excess moderation of its candidates- quite the opposite actually- but allowing or not allowing unaffiliateds to vote in their primaries has no impact on that.