John Quiggin points us to the new Pew numbers which find Republican self-identification dropping to a new low, on par with “nones”
19 per cent. That’s the proportion of respondents to the latest Pew poll who say they identify as Republicans, an all-time low. It’s also Pew’s 2012 estimate of the proportion of the US population who describe their religious affilation as “atheist”, “agnostic”, or “nothing in particular”, or in the current shorthand, “Nones”.
We’ve been seeing this play out in Southeast PA for years now. Just yesterday, Mari Schaefer reported that Democratic registration in Delaware County has surpassed Republican registration for the first time in 100 years:
After more than a century of Republican rule, the Democrats in Delaware County have closed the gap and are poised to become the party with the largest number of registered voters.
As of Thursday, a difference of a mere 19 registered voters separated the two major parties – with 169,719 Republicans and 169,700 Democrats. The numbers reprsent a statistical dead heat, with each having 44 percent of the total number of registered voters [...]
In Bucks County, the Democrats hold roughly a 3 percent lead over the GOP, with 43 percent of the total voters. In Montgomery County, Democrats account for 46 percent of the voters, compared to 38.5 percent of registered Republicans. Only Chester County remains controlled by Republicans, with an almost 7 point margin.
Now, obviously if you look at the balance of representation in the US House and the state legislature in SEPA, it’s clear there are a lot of wishy-washy ticket-splitters, who don’t always vote their party registration in general elections. We’re certainly seeing growth in Democratic registration, but we’re also seeing a lot of embarrassed Republican-identifiers re-registering as independents to shake off the stink of the Republican brand. But they mostly keep voting like partisan Republicans, which is why you should always be on high-alert whenever you hear a pundit generalize about “the independent vote.”
The interaction of shrinking Republican registration with PA’s closed primary system tends to make the Republican brand even stinkier, because when the moderates re-register as independents, they leave behind the Ana Puig types to run the show. I think the closed primary system is working out well for the party I favor, so I don’t support open primaries, but I do think the introduction of fusion voting could help moderate former Republicans develop popular politicians at the municipal level outside the Republican brand.