Evan Falchuk is not our new governor. But he’s still quite pleased with how the election turned out: After he won over 3 percent of the vote (3.3 percent, to be exact), his United Independent Party is now an official political party in the state of Massachusetts.
Falchuk can’t (and won’t) rest on his laurels, though. 2016 is just around the corner, and the UIP plans to field several candidates in local elections. Falchuk says about 20 people have already approached him about possibly running.
Now, here’s the problem: even if UIP wins every single one of those elections — heck, even if every single registered voter in the state votes UIP in 2016 — the party could lose that official designation it fought so hard for. According to Massachusetts General Law, parties must receive 3 percent of the vote in a statewide election to keep their official status. The only election in 2016 that qualifies is the presidential election, and UIP isn’t fielding a candidate for that.
There’s one way UIP can stay “official’’ without the 3 percent: if at least 1 percent of registered voters in the state (about 43,000 people) enroll in the party. That’s what Falchuk and the UIP are focused on now.
“We knew that going into this,’’ Falchuk says.
As of October 2012, there were 4.3 million registered voters in Massachusetts. Fifty-two percent of them are not enrolled in a political party. That gives UIP a big pool from which to draw. But it’s a double-edged sword, because it also indicates that Bay Staters just don’t want to enroll in a party at all. Both Democrat and Republican registrations have dropped over the years, to 35 and 11 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, the number of unenrolled voters increased by 97 percent between 1978 and now.
“There’s a strong coalition of people who want the system to be better,’’ Falchuk says. He encountered many people on the campaign trail who were no longer interested in or had faith in voting or politics. Falchuk thinks the UIP will appeal to them. “It’s about showing people that there is a different way.’’
One place to start might be Pioneer Valley. Falchuk notes that he received 10 percent of the vote in Chicopee. Surrounding towns were similarly significantly higher than the average: 7 percent in East Longmeadow; 7.8 percent in Ludlow; 8.1 percent in Belchertown. Falchuk had spikes in towns in the Berkshires, too. Those are the voters, Falchuk believes, who don’t feel represented by the major parties.
So Falchuk’s campaign continues — though Falchuk doesn’t think “campaign’’ is the right word now.
“It’s really more about organizing and mobilizing people,’’ he says.
Will Falchuk run for any office in 2016?
“Door’s open,’’ he says, though he thinks there will be plenty of good UIP candidates on the ballots, allowing him to focus on working to build UIP. “Certainly 2018.’’
At least the first step is complete.
“It’s a milestone,’’ Falchuk says of UIP’s official status. “We’re very gratified with the outcome … I’m so proud of the team.’’
“Now we really have to get working.’’