California reflects at least one national political trend.
The latest voter registration figures, just released by California’s Secretary of State, show that major party affiliation is shrinking, while the percentage of independent voters continues to rise.
Nationally, according to a 2010 Gallup study, Democrats had “a 4 point party identification advantage over Republicans (44% to 40%), down from…a 12 point advantage in 2008.”
Republican identification has basically flat-lined. According to the Gallup study, “…Democrats, not Republicans, have been the net losers as Americans shift away from the major parties.”
Nationally, independents tend to lean GOP. That’s where Golden State voters once again part company with the national electorate.
The new California numbers tell us that, although both major parties saw a slight decline in their registration percentages, Golden State Democrats still hold roughly a 13 point lead over the GOP (43.6% to 30.4%).
However, one in five California voters (21.2%) declined to state a party preference—that’s an all-time high.
Surveys done by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) show that this shift is much better news for the state’s Democratic Party than for the GOP.
In PPIC’s January survey, California voters registered as “decline-to-state or independent” were asked: “Do you think of yourself as closer to the Republican Party or Democratic Party?”
Forty-five percent identified themselves as aligned more closely with the Democratic Party. Twenty-four percent chose the Republican Party and another 24% of voters volunteered they saw themselves as closer to neither major party.
In California, independent voters lean Democratic. And according to PPIC, “Independents hold sway in statewide elections.”
In addition, just-released campaign finance reports show that California’s Democratic Party has an $8.7 million fund-raising edge over the state’s Republican Party.
Actually, Republicans nearly matched the Democrats in contributions last quarter--$2.77 million for the Dems and $2.34 million for the state’s GOP.
However, the California Republican Party has nearly depleted its bank account; it’s financing a ballot proposition to repeal new State Senate lines, drawn by the Citizens’ Redistricting Commission, which could hand Democrats a 2/3 majority in the upper house.
That, of course, could lessen the ability of Senate Republicans to hang terminally tough on tax increases.
It’s clear that the risks of—and blowback from—the GOP’s weak numbers have been exacerbated by the fallout from the independent Commission’s legislative and Congressional district lines.
The Los Angeles Times recently reported, “The Democratic Party increased its edge in voter registration in California’s newly drawn congressional districts, which could aid the party’s efforts of recapturing the House of Representatives.”
The flux in voter registrations in California underscores the reality of a diminished Republican Party in a state that will continue to remain deeply Blue.