On December 31, 2012, a month and change after President Obama’s re-election when he carried Florida a second time, of the 12.6m registered voters in Florida (including Active, Inactive, and Pre-registered 16 & 17 year-olds ), Democrats comprised 40%, No Party Affiliates (NPAs) made up 21%, and Republicans accounted for 35% of the electorate.
Flash-forward to August 31, 2016. Democrats now make up only 38%, NPAs are up to 24%, and Republicans continue to comprise roughly 35% of the overall statewide electorate, which now weighs in at a hefty 13.7m registered voters.
And there was much rejoicing among Republicans…as the gap between registered Democrats and Republicans had narrowed, from roughly 595k to just 419k of all Active, Inactive, and Pre-registered voters on the statewide voter rolls, as of August 31, 2016.
But as I’ve tirelessly Tweeted and conversed with the media, this narrowing (by 176k voters) does not mean that Republicans have out-registered Democrats over the past 3 1/2 years.
As I’ve repeatedly shown, Democrats have actually out-registered Republicans over this period of time.
Below I report the 2.32m newly registered voters, by party, of those who registered between January 1, 2013 and August 31, 2016 and who are still in the voter file. These are not voters who registered prior to January 1, 2013 and who subsequently changed their party registrations. No, these are NEWLY registered voters over the 3 1/2 years as of August 31, 2016.
As the table shows, of the 2.32m voters who registered during the 44 month period and who are in the statewide Florida voter file (as of August 31, 2016), 31% are registered as Democrats, 38% are NPAs, and 28% are Republicans.
In real numbers, over 80k more Democrats than Republicans are in the voter file who registered during the 3 1/2 year period. More precisely, for those of you who really like facts, as of August 31, 2016, there are 80,329 more Democrats who registered since January 1, 2013 than Republicans who registered over the same period of time and who are in the statewide voter file as of August 31, 2016.
So, with Democrats out-pacing Republicans on new registrations over the past 44 months, how is it possible that the the registration gap between the Democratic and Republican parties has closed by some 176k registered voters, with the relative percentage of Republicans growing and the percentage of Democrats decreasing?
The main reason is that the attrition rate over the past 44 months of previously registered Democrats is larger than that of Republicans who were registered prior to January 1, 2013. Some 1.24m voters have ‘exited’ the voter file over the 3 1/2 years. Some 514.9k Democrats who were registered prior to 2012 are no longer on the rolls; 435.8k Republicans who were on the books back on December 31, 2012, are no longer registered to vote.
That’s a Democratic disadvantage of 79k voters, and it largely accounts for the Republicans closing the overall voter registration gap in the Sunshine State.
The balance –some 97k voters — accounting for Republicans closing the statewide voter registration lead held by Democrats is due to party-switching.
Of the 11.3m voters in Florida who were registered on January 1, 2013 and who remained on the voter rolls on August 31, 2016, some 216k former Democrats are no longer (as of August 31, 2016) registered with the Democratic Party. There’s also been party-switching among formerly registered Republicans, but it has not been as drastic: some 120k registered voters who were registered as Republicans on December 31, 2012 are no longer registered Republicans (as of August 31, 2016).
I’ll have fuller examination of party-switching in a subsequent post, as I’m currently working on an academic paper on the topic that delves down into much greater detail.
So there you have it. The great mystery of the narrowing voter registration gap between Democrats and Republicans in Florida has been solved.
No conspiracy. No skewing of the data. Just the facts.
Yes, I know facts are tough to swallow for some, especially in these heated times.
But if you just chew on them long enough, you really can digest them. Really. Just try.
I still have hope that the United States can become a Mastication Nation.