Heading into the 2018 Primary we are seeing a lot of movement on the voter file. As described in a recent Capitol Weekly article that looked specifically at the registration in the year before each recent gubernatorial primary, the increased rates of registration could be pointing to a more engaged electorate, and possibly higher than average turnout.
As we can see using our Tableau-driven infographics there have been over 2.3 million registrations (including new and re-registrations) since the 2016 General Election.
Of these 2.3 million, approximately 1/3 are totally new voters with no prior voting history in California. These new registrants are heavily independent, younger (obviously, since most new voters are always younger), and more than 30% Latino, slowly pushing the overall electorate closer to 25% of the electorate.
Looking more closely at the 18-19 year old new registrants that are also first-time voters, not old enough to have voted in the 2016 general, we can see a whopping 42% of these voters are Latino, and half of them aren’t registering with either of the two major political parties.
One of the recurring questions is about how much partisan change on the voter file is associated with people flipping parties. Looking at the data we can actually see that among the roughly 1.5 million voters who re-registered, 80,000 were Republicans who re-registered as Democratic or Independent, and 99,000 were Democrats who flipped to Independent or Republican.
In real numbers, this seems to counter the mainstream media narrative that voters are rejecting the Republican Party and Democrats are experiencing a wave, however in percentage terms this means that just 1% of Democrats re-registered and flipped parties, while it was 2% for Republicans. As was described in an article years ago, this flipping of parties is actually a rarer occurrence than people think.
But one irritating trend that keeps growing is the rate of American Independent Registration. As was described in great detail in this LA Times series, AIP voters are overwhelmingly in that ultra-conservative party by mistake, thinking that they are registering “independent.”
And the mistakes keep happening with nearly 80,000 new registrations into a political party that wants to ban immigration and was founded on a segregationist platform, yet finds itself with over 500,000 members, including a large percentage of Latinos and foreign born voters.