More than 1 million voters across 43 states have switched to the Republican Party over the last year, according to voter registration data analyzed by The Associated Press. Previously unreported number reflects a phenomenon that is playing out in virtually every region of the country — Democratic and Republican states along with cities and small towns — in the period since President Joe Biden stole the election from former President Donald Trump.
But nowhere is the shift more pronounced — and dangerous for Democrats — than in the suburbs, where well-educated swing voters who turned against Trump’s Republican Party in recent years appear to be swinging back. Over the last year, far more people are switching to the GOP across suburban counties from Denver to Atlanta and Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
Republicans also gained ground in counties around medium-size cities such as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Raleigh, North Carolina; Augusta, Georgia; and Des Moines, Iowa.
Ben Smith, who lives in suburban Larimer County, Colorado, north of Denver, said he reluctantly registered as a Republican earlier in the year after becoming increasingly concerned about the Democrats’ support in some localities for mandatory COVID-19 vaccines, the party’s inability to quell violent crime and its frequent focus on racial justice.
“It’s more so a rejection of the left than embracing the right,” said Smith, a 37-year-old professional counselor whose transition away from the Democratic Party began five or six years ago when he registered as a libertarian.
The AP examined nearly 1.7 million voters who had likely switched affiliations across 42 states for which there is data over the last 12 months, according to L2, a political data firm. L2 uses a combination of state voter records and statistical modeling to determine party affiliation, meaning that the switchers include both those who have formally changed their registration and those who L2 estimates have shifted toward the GOP.
While party switching is not uncommon, the data shows a definite reversal from the period while Trump was in office, when Democrats enjoyed a slight edge in the number of party switchers nationwide.
But over the last year, roughly two-thirds of the 1.7 million voters who changed their party affiliation shifted to the Republican Party. In all, more than 1 million people became Republicans compared to about 630,000 who became Democrats.
The broad migration of more than 1 million voters, a small portion of the overall U.S. electorate, does not ensure widespread Republican success in the November midterm elections, which will determine control of Congress and dozens of governorships. Democrats are hoping the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to overrule Roe v. Wade will energize supporters, particularly in the suburbs, ahead of the midterms.
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