Independents have surpassed Republicans to become the second-largest voting bloc in California, according to a firm that analyzes county voter registration information for campaigns.
Political Data Inc. on Tuesday released its latest count showing that voters registered with no party preference now outnumber Republicans by about 73,000 in California. The company regularly collects raw voter files from county registrars to maintain an updated database of the state's 19 million voters.
At the close of regular registration, 15 days before the June primary, there were 4,844,803 no-party-preference voters, according to Political Data Inc., compared with 4,771,984 Republicans. Both make up about a quarter of the California electorate, trailing 8,436,493 registered Democrats, about 44.4 percent.
It is the culmination of a trend that has been accelerating for years. California voters have shed their party affiliation at a growing rate, even as state politics are increasingly dominated by Democrats.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
“This isn't surprising," Matt Fleming, a spokesman for the California Republican Party, said in a statement. "But no party preference doesn't mean voters are becoming Democrats, and we will continue to reach out to all voters. The rise in NPP suggests that voters are fed up with the status quo in California, which, by any objective measure, is Democrat control of Sacramento."
The Secretary of State's Office, which tracks voter registration statewide, did not immediately return an email seeking confirmation of the numbers. It plans to release its own count on Friday.
Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data Inc., also noted that, despite falling registration rates, Republicans maintain an outsized influence because they vote more consistently than Democrats or independents.
Republicans and independents who lean Republican made up about 40 percent of the vote in recent elections, he said, a rate that has remained fairly stable.
"Registration numbers don't beget turnout numbers," Mitchell said. "This is merely one metric."