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What will be the impact of 53,000 new Republican voters?

Key Points

  • Since March 18, the number of Unaffiliated voters has decreased by over 35,000 and Republican affiliations have increased by over 53,000.
  • From June 9 to 15 well over 3,000 individuals left the Democratic Party.
  • Jon Huntsman Jr. and Spencer Cox are expected to garner the support of the vast majority of these new Republican voters. Greg Hughes is apparently counting on Republicans who support President Trump to put him over the top.
  • While the focus is on the gubernatorial election, it is very possible that newly affiliated Republican voters will impact other Republican contests and possibly even redistricting.
  • A wild card is just how many of the tax referendum supporters carry through on threats to vote against Republican legislators.

A review of changes in party affiliations from March 18 to June 15, 2020 shows a strong trend of Unaffiliated and Democratic Party voters switching to the Republican Party in order to be able to vote in that party’s June 30 closed primary election. Other parties are also seeing their members change their party affiliations to Republican.

During the past three months the Republican Party has picked up 53,193 new voters for a total of 762,399 active voters. At the same time the number of Unaffiliated voters decreased by 35,620 leaving a total of 456,791 active voters who are Unaffiliated.

As of June 15, the Democratic Party has seen a net increase of 2,278 voters since March 18 for a total of 217,046 active voters. Between June 9 and June 15, total Democratic registrations fell by 3,310. This is likely a result of Democrats following Jim Dabakis’ advice and registering as Republicans.

Voters have until June 19 to change party affiliation so Republican numbers will continue to increase as more Utahns register to vote for the first time and as current voters continue to change their party affiliations.

So what does this mean for Republican gubernatorial candidates? 

Jon Huntsman Jr. and Spencer Cox are expected to garner the support of the vast majority of newly affiliated Republican voters.  In fact, most Democrats who are changing their party affiliation are doing so in order to ensure that Greg Hughes does not become governor.

Greg Hughes, is counting on getting the vast majority of the votes cast by the 67% of Utahns who intend to vote in the June 30 primary who somewhat or strongly support the job President Trump is doing.

Wright appears to be so far behind that he has no path to victory.

While the focus is on the gubernatorial election, it is very possible that newly affiliated Republican voters will also impact Republican state legislative and Congressional races as well as the race for Attorney General.

Republican incumbents who traditionally count on a low primary election voter turnout of party loyalists to return them to office may be surprised if large numbers of newcomers who do not know them or who have a bone to pick with them cast ballots in their races.

A wild card is just how many of the tax referendum supporters carry through on threats to vote against Republican legislators who voted for the ill fated bill that re-imposed the sales tax on food and imposed new sales taxes on gasoline and on services provided by a handful of small businesses that couldn’t afford to hire lobbyists.

Finally, if large numbers of Democrats and Unaffiliated voters who change their affiliation to Republican maintain their Republican affiliation into 2021 when redistricting occurs, it could have an impact on that as well by overstating Republican numbers.

Ronald Mortensen

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