For a party halfway in the grave, the news thudded like another shovelful of dirt — thwack! — heaved atop its coffin: The Republican Party may soon slip into third place among registered California voters, trailing Democrats and self-declared independents.
The decline of the GOP — now barely a quarter of the state’s electorate — has been a precipitous one in this formerly deep-red redoubt, a decline all the more striking given the provenance of figures like Earl Warren, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Between them, they represented California on the national ticket in 8 out of 10 presidential races over a nearly 40-year span.
That said, the latest registration figures weren’t that hot for Democrats, either. True, at 45%, the party enjoys a sizable advantage over Republicans. But that level of support has hardly budged in 20 years, even as the party tightened its vise grip on the state.