Republicans are closing the gap on Democrats’ long-held voter registration lead in Florida, according to local reports.
Since the beginning of the year, more than 377,000 Floridians have registered to vote, nearly 60 percent of whom have registered as Republicans. The new totals, according to the Tampa Bay Times, effectively halve the advantage Democrats had in 2012 and bring Republican voter registration the closest it has ever gotten to meeting Democratic registration totals with a margin of just 259,000.
Many GOP gains occurred between January and March in advance of Republican nominee Donald Trump’s victory in the Florida presidential primary. As the paper notes, Republican registration grew by 154,000 while Democrats gained a little over half that, or 88,000 over the same three months.
In the months following the March primary, Republican voter registration grew by nearly 69,000 and Democratic registration grew by nearly 68,000.
While the registration numbers appear to favor Republicans, University of Florida political science professor Daniel A. Smith, cautioned the Tampa Bay Times about overstating a Republican surge.
In January and February, many who were registered with minor parties, like the Reform Party, or claimed “no party affiliation” shifted to Republican so they could vote in the GOP presidential primary. Smith said those voters were already likely Republican voters, so it doesn’t indicate a significant swing come November.
In terms of raw totals, according to the Florida Division of Elections, as of August 1, there are 4,431,400 registered Republicans in the state and 4,690,721 registered Democrats. In other words, since January, the GOP has gained more than 66,400 new registrations than Democrats.
Voters without a party affiliation numbered 2,913,948 as of August 1, the deadline to register before the August 30 primary election. Additionally, there were 256,531 registered as Independents, 44,176 with the Independence Party, 25,030 as Libertarians, 5,438 with the Green Party, 1,400 with the Reform Party of Florida 1,101 with the Constitution Party, 281 registered as part of the Ecology Party, and 201 registered with the Party for Socialism & Liberation.
Overall there were 12,370,930 registered voters in the state.
The Florida deadline to register to vote in the November 8 General Election is October 11, 2016.