San Diego County Republican strongholds are decreasing as Independents surge, San Diego Registrar of Voters said.
Republican registration is now at its lowest level since 2000. According to data analyzed by NBC 7 Investigates, the percentage of voters who registered as Republicans has dropped by 9 percent since 2008, from 36 percent of total voters to 27 percent.
And while the number of registered Republicans has dipped significantly, the number of voters who are registered as Independents has risen nearly as much, indicating that many Republican voters are identifying as Independents.
According to county Registrar of Voters, 350,808 voters registered as Independents in 2008. Last month, that number was recorded at 539,496 voters.
Tony Krvaric serves as Chair for the San Diego Republican Party. Krvaric has seen the numbers and says the party plans a major push in coming months to get those voters who no longer identify as Republican back on the voter rolls.
“Republicans are leaving. San Diego, and the state, is hemorrhaging conservatives because this is not a conservative place. You can’t have a straw, you can’t own guns, taxes on car registration that are out of control, there’s no mistake that we are hemorrhaging people. But for those of us here, we are here and we need to fight.”
Added Krvaric, “If you’re a Trump supporter this is the time to change back to Republican.”
And while Krvaric has seen the number of registered Republicans fall, the same cannot be said for registered Democrats. According to the county Registrar of Voters, 653,493 people are registered as Democrats, up from 547,856 in 2008. However, when factoring in new voters, the percentage of Democrats remained at 36 percent of all registered voters, the same level it was in 2008.
Certain Republican strongholds, however, remain. That can be seen in the 50th District. Despite the criminal prosecution of Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter for misusing campaign funds, the Republican Party appears to have numbers on their side.
Registered Democratic voters fell from 31 percent in 2008 to 27 percent in 2019. Republicans saw only a slight decrease to 39 percent of total registered voters, down from the height of 45 percent in 2012. And as the number of Independents county-wide has increased, the 50th District saw only a marginal increase from 24 percent in 2008 to 27 percent in 2019.
The trend is seen throughout all 19 municipalities in the county as well. Each city has seen a drop in the number of registered Republicans and a rise in Independent voters. The largest change occurred in East County cities such as Santee, La Mesa, as well as northeastern San Diego County conservative stronghold of Escondido.
In November, 2016 eight cities in the county had more registered Republican voters than Democrats. According to the latest registration numbers the GOP has lost four of those cities. Including, El Cajon, Escondido, Oceanside, and San Marcos.
Political analyst, Laura Fink, says it’s not just a trend in San Diego County, but statewide. “The increase in new voters registering with no party preference continues a longstanding trend,” said Fink.
“With a smaller share of voters choosing the Republican party than ever before, and Democratic registrants holding steady, it's clear that San Diego County Republicans have lost the most ground, which runs parallel to the party's decline in influence across the state.”