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Democrats eye advantage in demographic changes

For the last two presidential cycles, voter registration in Nevada County favored the Democratic Party, bucking generational trends.

According to Nevada County Democratic Party Chair Peter Minett, whether that continues will depend on increased voter outreach.

This year, Nevada County had 29,355 registered Democrats, and 24,570 Republicans. Since 2004, Republican registration in the state and county has been on the decline while Democratic registration has been more steady.



That changed in 2016 when both parties saw a surge in registration, but Democratic registration in Nevada County grew by about 5,000 from 2014 to 2016, compared to around 2,000 for Republicans in that time.

The surge was a result of a combination of factors, Minett said, from popular campaigns for cannabis legalization on the ballot to registration drives, and of course the election of President Donald Trump.




“I think reaction to the election of Donald Trump was certainly a major factor,” he said.

Minett said the party likely gained, too, from shifting demographics in the region, a trend it could take advantage of with increased outreach.

“Nevada County is a pretty attractive area for people that are coming from areas that are much more heavily Democratic, major urban areas,” he said. “So that’s a Democrat demographic trend, it could be to our advantage.”

However he cautioned the changes are not inevitable, and Republican registration efforts could sweep away their gains, particularly as some Democratic-leaning voters could be less active with President-elect Joe Biden moving into the White House soon.

“If I had to guess I would predict higher levels of engagements than pre-2016, but I think it would be pretty normal for some of that to taper off,” Minett said. “Part of that will depend on circumstances and future efforts by the Democratic Party.”

Both of Nevada County’s major party chairs acknowledged the branding of the two main parties is at a low in the eyes of the electorate, which has contributed to the percentage of the electorate that eshews both parties to grow from 24% in 2004 to 30% in 2018.

“The current state of politics in the United States is such that a lot of people are turned off politics altogether and don’t want to be affiliated,” Minett said. “There’s a significant amount of disgust with both parties.”

Bob Hren, head of the Nevada County Republican Party, agreed.

“In my discussions with (decline to state) registrants, they are mostly just tired of the extreme polarization in today’s politics.”

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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