Pennsylvania Republicans outpacing Democrats in voter registration

Trump won the swing state in 2016 by less than 1 percentage point

Updated: August 1, 2020 - 12:43pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Pennsylvania voter registration data shows that Republicans are gaining voters at five times the rate of Democrats, with the November elections fast approaching.

Since the 2016 primary elections, Republicans have added a net 165,000 voters to their rolls, while Democrats have added 30,000. Democrats still have a 800,000-voter lead over Republicans in the state, but that number is down from 936,000 just four years ago, when President Trump won the state by roughly 44,000 votes, or less than 1%.

Pennsylvania GOP Chairman Lawrence Tabas predicts the numbers will result in Trump again winning the state in November.

"We were already ahead 44,000, and look what we've picked up," he told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I predict we're going to narrow the gap further between now and November."

Democratic presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden was born in Pennsylvania and spent his early childhood in the state. He continues to have close political ties to the state and leads Trump there by 6 percentage points, according to the RealClearPolitics.com polling average.

In addition, voter registration gains aren't always that straightforward. Some of the new members of the GOP may be Democrats who voted for the president in 2016 officially switching parties, which would not reflect a surge of new Trump voters. Additionally, 14% of the Pennsylvania electorate are independent or third party voters.

According to a statistical breakdown by the Inquirer, smaller counties in Pennsylvania have universally shifted right in the past four years. Every county with fewer than 100,000 voters has increased its number of registered Republicans, and all of them have more Republican than Democrat voters. 

Since 2016, 57 Pennsylvania counties have increased their percentage of Republican voters, while only 10 increased their percentage of Democrats. Democrats are also reportedly losing their moderate votes from rural and exurban Pennsylvania. 

Pennsylvania Democrats have continued to regionally consolidate their presence, primarily into southeastern counties, including the suburbs of Philadelphia, but also Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh. About 41% of the state's registered Democrats live in the southeastern section of the state.

 

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