PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A record number of Pennsylvanians have registered to vote in the presidential election, but voters may not be registering in the political party you think.
When you dig into the numbers, one thing is clear in this state: in the last four years, the number of registered Democrats has dropped by nearly 50,000, while Republicans have picked up 150,000 registered voters statewide.
“You had a lot of people who were registered as Democrats but tended to vote Republican, and a lot of those people are changing their registration,” professor Kristin Kanthak, a University of Pittsburgh political scientist, told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Friday.
Many of these people were the Trump Democrats of 2016, says Kanthak, voters who now feel more comfortable in the Republican Party. The president has also attracted unregistered voters, too.
“We’re also seeing new Republican registrations, right, so people who hadn’t been registered before are registering now as Republicans,” Kanthak said.
It’s not all bad news for the Democrats. Statewide, Democrats still lead Republicans by 717,000 voters, but southwestern Pennsylvania has become more Republican.
“They’re trying to take some of this excitement around Trump in these communities and turn it into voter registration,” said Kanthak.
Four years ago, Democrats outnumbered Republicans in Westmoreland County by 10,000. Now the Republicans are ahead by 14,000 registered voters. In Washington County, Democrats led Republicans by 13,000 in 2016, but today it’s dead even.
That makes the ticket splitters — Republicans voting for Joe Biden and Democrats voting for Donald Trump — more important than ever.
“A few people splitting tickets will make the difference in an election we care about,” says Kanthak.