“I received numerous emails over the past number of weeks, saying, ‘I’ve been a lifelong Republican, I’ve always voted Republican, but I’m leaving the party now. I don’t like what it stands for.'"By Jon Delano

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Since the start of this year, more than 21,000 Pennsylvanians have switched their party registration, and the Republican party is losing members at more than twice the rate.

Over the last 12 years, it’s been mostly Pennsylvanian Democrats switching to Republican, but now the trend seems to be reversing.

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In the first five weeks of this year, nearly 15,500 Pennsylvania Republicans have left their party compared to just under 6,000 Democrats. Democratic officials think they know why.

“We have a lot of Republicans who were just disgusted by what we see in the Capitol last month on the 6th, and I think after four years of Trumpism, after the extremism that you’re seeing in Harrisburg by our state Republicans, I think people are just fed up,” said Pennsylvania Democratic Party Executive Director Jason Henry.

Henry says many suburban Republicans were shocked by Jan. 6.

“Using the American flag to assault police officers, using the American flag to break down windows and deface the cradle of the democratic process our United States Capitol – they would be appalled to see the Confederate flag being marched through the halls of Congress,” said Henry.

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Allegheny County Republican Chair Sam DeMarco agrees the Capitol insurrection by Trump supporters hurt suburban Republicans.

“I received numerous emails over the past number of weeks, saying, ‘I’ve been a lifelong Republican, I’ve always voted Republican, but I’m leaving the party now. I don’t like what it stands for,'” said DeMarco.

Demarco says Republicans must stop going after Republicans who disagree with Trump.

“If we continue down the path of trying to punish everyone that we don’t agree with, then we run the risk of having people who don’t necessarily align with us 100 percent of the time deciding that they’d rather be independent,” said DeMarco.

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In some counties like Westmoreland, it’s the Democrats who are losing members. Statewide, it’s clearly Republicans leaving their party, but a majority of these switches are to independent, not Democrat. That gives both parties a chance to attract their votes.