North Carolina voters abandoning Democrats, switching to GOP as part of a national trend

Democrats lost nearly 20,000 voters since January.

Updated: July 6, 2022 - 6:41am

North Carolina is mirroring a national trend of voters switching to the Republican Party this year, with nearly 5,000 former Democrats crossing the aisle since January 2022.

Data from the North Carolina State Board of Elections analyzed by The Carolina Journal show the Republican Party is the only party in the state with a net increase in voters this year.

The numbers show about 9,830 voters left the Republican Party, while 11,341 joined, including 4,999 former Democrats.

On the other side, Democrats lost nearly 20,000 voters since January 2022, compared to 6,253 North Carolinians who joined the party.

Jim Stirling, research fellow at the John Locke Foundation's Civitas Center for Public Integrity, told the Journal the changes pale in comparison to 2020, but said he expects more to come as the general election approaches.

"This year seems to have a slight uptick in registration changes when comparing it to the election years of the last decade," Stirling said. "2020 had a massive number of registration changes, totaling 237,611 changes. This includes the now removed Green and Constitutional parties only having received 2,477 registrant changes. While we may not reach 2020 registration changes, we will likely see a large uptick in registrations as we get closer to November."

A total of 41,795 North Carolina voters changed party affiliation since the start of 2022, and more than half, or 23,374, became unaffiliated. Of those, 14,447 came from the Democratic Party while 8,348 came from the Republican Party.

While nearly 5,000 Democrats changed their affiliation to Republican, only about 1,211 Republicans became Democrats.

Andy Jackson, director of the Civitas Center, told the news site some speculate the changes were part of a plot to influence the primary election in May.

"Short-term party switching is often talked about but is pretty rare in practice," Jackson said. "It was popularized by Rush Limbaugh's 'Operation Chaos' in 2008, when he encouraged Republicans to change registration to vote in Democratic presidential primaries. More recently, there was an effort by progressives to change party registration to vote in the Republican 11th Congressional District primary against Madison Cawthorn."

About 2,000 Democrats are believed to have switched to vote against Cawthorn, the Journal reports.

Cawthorn lost his primary for the U.S. House District 11 to Sen. Chuck Edwards by a vote of 28,112 to 29,496, according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections.

The Associated Press reported last week that more than 1 million voters across 43 states have switched to the Republican Party over the last year, a phenomenon that's occurring in both Democratic and Republican states, in large cities and small towns.

Those figures compare to about 630,000 Republicans who became Democrats during the same time frame. The momentum represents a shift from when President Donald Trump was in office, a time when more party switchers became Democrats than Republicans.

The specific reasons for the changing tide is unclear, though it coincided with Trump leaving the White House, the AP reports.

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