Where have all California's registered Republicans gone?

Where have all California's registered Republicans gone?
Voters at the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters Office in Norwalk in 2012.

New statewide voter registration figures released this week had more bad news for the state’s GOP. The number of California voters registered Republican dropped again this year – to just 28% of the state’s voters. That’s down from 34.2%, or 5.4 million voters, as recently as 2007.

Where did all those registered Republicans go?


Some of them probably died; it happens to every party, though Republicans do tend to skew older. About half are 55 or older, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

But it's a fair bet that at least some of the formerly registered Republicans have decided to cut party ties altogether and go commando, politically speaking. Even as registration in the GOP has been falling, the number of Californians choosing not to affiliate with a party at all has been growing. Currently, 23.6% – almost a quarter – of the state's voters have no party preference. That's up from 18.8% in 2007.

Coincidence? I think not.

Over the same eight-year period, California's Democratic party registration grew slightly, from 42.5 to 43.2% of voters with a peak of 44.5% in 2009, which was probably due to all the people who turned out to vote for Barack Obama.

However, Democrats might want to hold off on indulging in schadenfraude; unless Dem voters get jazzed about the next presidential nominee, their party registration may well go down too.

With open primaries in California there's so little incentive for the voters to sign up with one party or the other. Well, none, other than being shut out of California's Republican presidential primary, which we all know is pointless anyhow because it happens so late in the campaign. Democrats do allow NPP voters to cast a vote for their party's presidential nominee, which is also pretty meaningless for the same reason noted above.

Other fun voter registration facts gleaned from the report:

• The Sierra foothills are apparently a hotbed of libertarianism, at least relative to the rest of the state. Placer and Calaveras counties have the highest concentration of registered Libertarians, which still isn’t very high, at 1.41% and 1.36% respectively.

• Mendocino and Humboldt counties, meanwhile, are Green Party strongholds, with 3.77% and 3.69% of the voters, respectively.

• L.A. County's voter registration distinction is that it is home to the second-largest percentage of Peace and Freedom Party registrants, at 0.73% – which could be attributed to the name alone. Who doesn't want to sign up for a little peace and freedom?

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