Election numbers shift slightly | TheUnion.com

Election numbers shift slightly

Greyson Howard
Staff Writer
Associated Press Writer

Democrats have dropped slightly, Republicans have held fairly steady and decline-to-state voters continue to grow in Nevada County leading up to the general election.

Citizens have until Oct. 18 to register.

As of Sept. 15, 24,136 Nevada County residents have registered as Republicans, about 40 percent of the 59,882 voters registered so far for the Nov. 2 general election.

Just over 33.7 percent, or 20,236 voters, have registered as Democrats, and 11,821 voters – 19.7 percent – decline to state a political party allegiance.

Those figures are fairly similar to the June primary registration numbers, with Democrats at 20,787 (33.9 percent), Republicans at 24,704 (40 percent), and decline-to-state voters at 11,967 (19.5 percent), out of a total 61,217 voters.

“That’s been the trend over the last few years because people were probably dissatisfied with politicians from both major parties,” said Nevada County Republican Central Committee Chairman Bill Neuharth.

But compared to past years, migration from parties to decline-to-state status seems to be slowing, he said.

“I believe a lot of the disenchanted voters have already made that change,” Neuharth added.

In the last few elections, Democrats have seen 20 percent higher voting for party candidates than the number of registered Democrat voters, indicating many decline-to-state voters swing that way, said Nevada County Democratic Party Chair Margaret Joehnck.

“We’ve had good support the last two elections, and we hope it’s still there,” Joehnck said.

Looking back to the high turnout of the November 2008 presidential election, percentages for Nevada County were similar, at 34, 40.7 and 19.3 percent respectively for Democrats, Republicans and decline to state.

Voters eschewing party affiliation is a recent trend. They represented 9 percent of voters. In 1990, they grew to 10 percent, and by 2000, 14 percent.

Since 2000, Democrats have hovered around a 1 percent increase, while Republicans have dropped by 6 percent in the county.

With registration not yet closed, the registration numbers for November are still changing, said Assistant County Clerk-Recorder Gail Smith.

“Registration has been picking up in the past few days.” Smith said. “We’ve received quite a few requests for registration cards.”

As for voter turnout, Neuharth said that while he doesn’t expect numbers as high as a presidential election, he hopes the gubernatorial race energizes voters.

Statewide, Democrats continue to hold a wide registration lead of nearly 2.3 million voters over Republicans in California, despite aggressive efforts by the GOP to close the gap, the Associated Press reported.

A report released Friday by the Secretary of State’s office showed the electorate holding roughly steady since the June primary, with 44.3 percent registered as Democrats, 30.9 percent as Republicans, and nearly 20.2 percent declining to state a party preference, the AP reported.

Republican registration has been falling for several years, but the GOP had hoped to capitalize on the conservative momentum across the country as a way to boost the party’s voter base in California.

State Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring put a positive spin on the new report, saying Republicans have registered 275,000 voters since October 2009 as part of a $2 million drive.

The latest figures do show a slight narrowing of the gap between Republican and Democratic registration, from 13.5 percent in May 2009 to just under 13.4 percent for the period 60 days before the Nov. 2 general election.

“We’ve reversed a four-year trend when the Democrats had been widening their lead over Republicans,” Nehring told the AP. “That clearly demonstrates strength on our part.”

State Democratic Party Chairman John Burton said the numbers were nothing but good news for Democrats.

“The facts show there’s no surge,” he said. Republicans “aren’t catching fire as much as they like to think they are.”

Secretary of State Debra Bowen said about 17 million Californians are now registered to vote, about the same as there were in June.

To contact Staff Writer Greyson Howard, e-mail ghoward@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4237.

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