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Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: The rise of independent voters; Congressional candidate Lou Barletta

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Oct 28, 2014 1:23 PM
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What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, October 29, 2014:

The November 4 election is just a week away.  Even though voters will cast ballots for governor of Pennsylvania, members of the U.S. and state House of Representatives and half the state Senate, voter turnout is not expected to be robust.

Several changes have occurred in the Pennsylvania electorate since the last gubernatorial election in 2010.  For one, there are 3% fewer Pennsylvanians registered to vote.  The number of registered Democrats fell by 5% and registered Republicans by 3%.  However, there still are one million more registered Democrats than Republicans in the state.

What's noteworthy though is voters registered with a third political party or as independents increased by 9%.

On Wednesday's Smart Talk, we'll ask why and if more non-Democrats and Republicans represent a sea change in Pennsylvania.

Joining us on the program is Dr. Christopher Borick, Professor of Political Science, Director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion.

Also, Smart Talk continues our conversations with area Congressional candidates.

Eleventh district Republican incumbent Lou Barletta joins us on Wednesday's program.  The 11th district is made up of all of Columbia, Montour, and Wyoming counties and parts of Carbon, Cumberland, Dauphin, Luzerne, Northumberland, and Perry counties.

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Congressman Lou Barletta

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  • Robert D Colgan img 2014-10-29 08:57

    The rise of independent voters is analogous IMO to Germans in the '30s announcing they weren't voting for the National Socialistic Party.........
    it doesn't matter what people say or do----the duopoly Rs & Ds rule the roost in the USA and effectively keep all power flowing toward them.
    The power continues to reside where it has flowed.
    The power has been purchased by the richest to favor legislation favorable to their interests.

    THE INSANITY CLAUSE: even though Congress has an incredibly low public confidence, virtually every election cycle the incumbents get re-elected to office. Doing the same thing, expecting different results ----only works a very small percent of the time, and usually when other conditions change, fishing for example.
    FEAR-----the voters are essentially kept in a continuous state of fear--subconscious, sub-clinical, but real. The endless barrage of fear-laden news keeps the populace fearful, and therefore more easily controlled by the political marketers.
    GERRYMANDERING----has guaranteed politicos tenure. And effectively thwarted opposition candidates.
    ANOMIE-----it doesn't matter whether new people get elected into office: the system simply assimilates them and mutes any effective reform they champion. The voters know that this is what is happening.....and it makes them ultimately jaundiced about politics, and elections, in general.

    The notion of democracy has never been a reality in the USA-----only lip service paid to it. The Declaration Of Independence speaks idealistically to freedom, to equality, but The Constitution ensures that is maintained by the richest, the most privileged, the most "entitled" to it.

  • John H. img 2014-10-29 09:07

    Bar(t)letta was sounding pretty good until he started bashing the ACA, no one forced Republicans to sit on their hands, throw a hissy fit and not participate in the creation of the ACA.

    Scott, next time you have a politician that bashes the ACA, would you ask them why they think that America can not do what other lesser countries have done, provide health care for their citizens.

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-10-29 09:11

    Jim writes...
    Mr. Barletta seemed to agree that it's not a good think that his district is gerrymandered. Please ask him this:
    Are gerrymandered districts a good or bad thing? If they are a bad thing, will you commit to go to the legislature and ask them to make districts more contiguous?

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-10-29 09:15

    Nick says...
    Please ask the congressman what he can do to improve the re-districting process. Has he looked at the shape of the PA congressional districts?

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-10-29 09:32

    Troy adds...
    I was too late in sending this email in time for the first segment. Maybe it can be profitable for a future show.

    When I was in middle school, we were introduced to a political test known as NPAT (National Political Awareness Test). It was a way to find out where a legislator or candidate stood on key issues.

    It is now known as PCT (Political Courage Test). As excellent a program this is, it is unbelievable how many legislators and candidates do not bother to respond to the test and give people the info they deserve to know to allow them clear info on the legislators and their positions, as well as their challengers.

    Perhaps if we bring this front and center, more people will learn about it and demand their legislators and candidates take it so they can really know who they are voting for.

    Here’s a link to the website.

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-10-29 09:37

    Judy tells us...
    I’d just like to say that in my opinion Lou Barletta was elected due to gerrymandering. I live in Midtown Hbg and believe me, neither Lou nor Scott (Perry) REPRESENT me. They represent Tea Party values and are nothing more than blind partisans. Lou just talked about how he goes around to communities in his District. Funny, I’ve never seen him in Harrisburg. I’m sure he knows that he would not get such a sunny reception in the urban environment. It’s shameful that these gerrymandering laws even exist and I get two “representatives” that will never support my values. Gerrymandering should be illegal and disposed of just like the Voter ID law was. thanks

    Judy Aims – a voter without representatives

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-10-29 10:35

    Morgan posts...
    This is an example of your discussions this morning on both voting and with Rep. Barletta. His district is a prime example of gerrymandering.

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-10-29 11:18

    Tom comments...
    And yet we have those voters who want to “send a message” to government leaders by not voting. Unfortunately, nobody is listening.

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-10-29 11:25

    It's obvious from the response to this morning's program that voters are not satisfied with how Pennsylvania's Congressional districts are drawn. There are many people across the country who believe gerrymandering is the main reason Washington is so partisan. It is an issue we'll feature on Smart Talk in the near future (and that's not a campaign promise).

  • hhb img 2014-10-29 11:46

    I am a 'no affiliation' voter. Every election cycle i look at the slate of candidates. Decide which primary races (if any) wher my vote might make what I want I want to happen..happen. Then, just before the registration deadline, I (temporarily) change my party affiliation to vote in the primary race (or races) that interests me. Immediately after the election I return my registration to 'no affiliation'. Any so-called "independent" voter who isn't doing this is a chump. For those who say the system is gamed against them, I ask, "When was the last time you attended a school board hearing or a zoning hearing in your community. Just showing up at those meetings to show them you are listening will rattle the office holders more than anything you ever do in a voting booth. Why are you absent the battlefield of civic participation 99.9 % of the time ? If people gave 1% of their time to actual civic engagement (even just showing up to listen) in their local community it would improve our government at all levels by an order of magintude.

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-10-29 11:51

    We got such a great response to today's program, we'll do Part 2 Thursday with Dr. Chris Borick. I'll use some of the comments here as well.