Shifting demographics hurt local GOP registration |

Shifting demographics hurt local GOP registration

The North State has long been a safely conservative stronghold in reliably blue California, but in 2016 registered Democrats surpassed Republican registration in Nevada County in a trend that may be continuing.

Since 2004 Democratic registration has grown statewide, going from 7.1 million to 9.3 million voters in 2020, or from 43% to 45% of the electorate. Over that same period Republican registration dropped from 5.7 million to 4.9 million, or from 35% of the electorate to 24%.

The trend was similar in Nevada County, with Republican registration waning until 2016, when registration increased for the first time in three presidential cycles. But the Democratic Party got a bump in registration twice as large in 2016, leading them to outnumber the GOP — 25,138 to 24,072.

This year, Nevada County had 29,355 registered Democrats, and 24,570 Republicans.

Nevada County Republican Party Chair Bob Hren said he believes the major driver comes from Bay Area transplants who lean Democrat.

“The biggest demographic factor is that people from the Bay Area and other coastal counties are purchasing primary or secondary homes in Nevada County, and they take their political identity with them when they vote here,” Hren said in an email.

According to Department of Finance data, between 2014 and 2018 more Nevada County residents moved to Sacramento and El Dorado counties, while the most transplants to Nevada County came from Placer and Alameda counties.

“These people realize that their vote in the Bay Area will not make a difference, as most local Democrats there win their races,” Hren said. “Here it’s a different story.”

Statewide, however, California saw a net migration decrease between 2019 and 2020, mostly to Texas (82,235), Arizona (59,713), Nevada (47,322), and Washington (46,791).

“Republicans who have grown tired of the one-party state rule in CA are leaving our county and state,” Hren said. “Few Democrats are leaving California, it seems.”

The Nevada County Democratic Party couldn’t be reached for comment.

Other factors for the demographic shift include steady gains for voters registering outside the traditional two-party system.

Since 2004, the share of the electorate voting for all other parties grew from 22%, or 3.6 million, to 6.3 million, or 30% in 2020. In Nevada County, the growth was less dramatic — possibly due to the increase in Democratic registration — going from 24% in 2004 to 28% in 2020.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email or call 530-477-4229.

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