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Dems and DTS gain, GOP loses voter registration

California’s Democratic and nonpartisan voter registration have increased from the last presidential election cycle to now, while Republican registration has fallen, according to the new report from Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s office.

The report shows that the 3.6 million voters who express no party preference now account for 21.2 percent of the state’s electorate, “a new all-time high” up from 19.4 percent (3 million voters) in January 2008, Bowen said.

The state’s 7.4 million registered Democrats – up from 6.6 million four years ago – now account for 43.6 percent of registered voters, up from 42.7 percent four years ago. Republican registration has dropped from 33.5 percent (5,197,897 voters) in January 2008 to 30.4 percent (5,170,592 voters) now.

“Republicans in California are a half percentage point away from an endangered species designation,” California Democratic Party spokesman Tenoch Flores said this afternoon. “Year after year voters see the GOP shrink away from their responsibilities and abdicate leadership on the tough issues facing our state. The numbers come as no surprise.”

California Republican Party spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns argued that while Golden State voters aren’t self-identifying as Republican, they’re voting like Republicans on the issues.

“Despite the increased numbers of decline-to-state voters, the fact is that Californians have voted our way on ballot initiatives, including overwhelmingly rejecting the last eight tax increases on the ballot,” she said via e-mail this afternoon. “The Republican Party has more work to do to communicate that THOSE principles are OUR principles, and we need to connect those dots for the voters. But the fact that voters are voting the way they do on those ballot measures indicates that they actually agree more with Republican principles of fiscal conservatism, smaller government, and less bureaucracy.”

California law requires statewide voter registration data updates 154, 60 and 15 days before each primary election, and 60 and 15 days before each general election. One “off-year” update is released in February of years with no regularly scheduled statewide election.

California’s new top-two primary system – in which the top two vote-getters in the primary advance to the general election, regardless of what parties they belong to – applies to statewide offices, state legislative offices and House and U.S. Senate offices, but does not apply to the presidential election, county party committees or local offices. Only the Democratic and American Independent parties are letting no-party-preference independents vote in their presidential primaries.

The last day to register to vote in the June 5 primary election is May 21; the last day to request a vote-by-mail ballot is May 29.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.