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Nearly 140,000 voters left GOP in 25 states in January

Nearly 140,000 voters left the Republican Party in 25 states in January, according to an analysis of public voting records obtained by The Hill. 

Some of the steepest drops in Republican Party affiliation were seen in California, where more than 33,000 registered voters left the GOP; Pennsylvania, where more than 12,000 voters defected; and Arizona, where more than 10,000 Republicans changed their voter registration.

And while California has morphed into a reliably blue state, Pennsylvania and Arizona are key battlegrounds where Republicans need support. 

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About 79,000 Democrats also left their party in January, according to public records.

The New York Times was the first to report on the figures. The numbers do not give a full picture of changes across the country given that not every state has voter registration by party or releases their statistics.

Shifts in voter registration are common after presidential elections, but the swing away from the Republican Party is particularly stark. 

“Since this is such a highly unusual activity, it probably is indicative of a larger undercurrent that’s happening, where there are other people who are likewise thinking that they no longer feel like they’re part of the Republican Party, but they just haven’t contacted election officials to tell them that they might change their party registration,” Michael P. McDonald, a professor of political science at the University of Florida, told the Times. “So this is probably a tip of an iceberg.” 

The defections build off of figures reported earlier in January by The Hill, which also showed significantly more Republicans leaving their party than Democrats.

Last month’s figures underscored the accelerating shift in the suburbs, which had leaned conservative but experienced a shift to the left during the Trump administration.

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About a third of the Pennsylvania voters who dropped their affiliation with the Republican Party in the statistics released last month are registered to vote in Montgomery, Bucks, Chester and Delaware counties, key suburban areas outside Philadelphia that did not swing for Trump in 2020. 

Republicans picked up support in places like Berks, Luzerne and Cambria counties, rural and exurban areas where GOP support has been on the rise. However, they are not sizeable enough to offset the party’s suburban losses.

The ongoing shifts in voter support across the country sped up during the Trump years. The former president’s defeat was driven by high turnout among Black Americans for Democrats and a rebuke in the suburbs.

However, he shattered the myth that he had topped out among rural voters in 2016, enjoying even higher support in those areas in November.

High-profile defectors said they could not remain in a party that had stuck so closely to Trump, who used controversial language and strayed from Republican orthodoxy on subjects like free trade.

“I changed my registration to 'no party affiliation' after 40 years. I worked for Reagan & Bush 41 & 43. But today’s Rep Party no longer embraces the policies & principles that led me to join it,” tweeted veteran diplomat Richard Haass. “To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, I didn’t leave the Republican Party; the Party left me.”