Rancher Cliven Bundy, who you may remember from American politics circa April 2014, has officially left the Republican Party. The news is unlikely to cause too many sleepless nights at Nevada GOP headquarters.
Bundy and his wife signed new voter registration forms at an event held by the Independent American Party, to which the Bundys now belong. The event, the AP reports, was "held to honor Bundy for what organizers called 'his courage in standing up for state sovereignty.' " The IAP promoted the Bundys' cause earlier this month, calling on Nevada residents to file "CRIME REPORTS" against the Bureau of Land Management agents involved in the seizure of Bundy's cattle.
That seizure, the result of unpaid grazing fines by Bundy, led to a brief standoff between the BLM and (sometimes armed) supporters of the rancher. At first, Bundy drew a lot of sympathy from prominent Republicans — until he started talking about issues of race and his views on "the negro." Since, he's largely vanished from national attention.
The party Bundy joined is something of a success story in Nevada. As of this month, the Independent American Party has 70,258 members, according to the Nevada Secretary of State's tally of total voters. (Or, I guess, 70,260 now.) That makes it the third-largest political party in the state — although the number of voters registered as "non-partisan" is nearly four times as high.
Ten years ago, though, the party was less than half of its current size. Since 2005, its growth hasn't been matched by any other group. As the overall voter rolls grew about 30 percent, IAP registration grew more than 105 percent.
Registration in the Republican Party, on the other hand, only grew by about 8 percent, and has actually dropped since 2008. In 2005, the IAP was 3.1 percent of the voting population; it's now almost 5 percent. The GOP has gone from 40 percent of voters to about 34 percent.
With all of that said, though, it seems pretty likely that the Nevada GOP is happy to cede these particular voters to the insurgent IAP.