Four days before the June 8 primary, the final voter-registration figures show that a fifth of California’s nearly 17 million registered voters declined to state their political affiliation and that overall about 80,000 new voters registered during the six-week period between April 9 and May 24.
The final figures, known as the 15-Day Report from the secretary of state’s office, show that about 72.4 percent of California’s 23,453,690 eligible voters are actually registered to cast ballots, up slightly from the 72.1 percent reflected in the earlier report. The latest report can be seen here.
Democrats, with 7,553,109 voters, account for 44.5 percent of the registered electorate. Republicans, at 5,228,320, account for 30.8 percent of those registered.
Decline-to-state, or DTS, voters, a segment of the electorate that has risen steadily since the 1990s, now total 3,423,750, or 20.17 percent.
The latest figures from the secretary of state are contained in the final of three, pre-election reports that contain updated registration data from California’s 58 counties.
Eleven of California’s 58 counties – most of them rural or suburban, with one major exception — have voter-registration levels of 80 percent or more. Rugged Sierra County, with 90.8 percent registration, is the highest of all the counties. In Sierra, 2,255 of the county’s 2,483 eligible voters have signed up.
The lowest voter-registration percentage is in Imperial County, at 59.22 percent, followed by Tulare County, at 59.99 percent.
In Los Angeles County, where more than a fourth of the state’s registered voters live, 4,352,711 people have registered, about 74.98 percent. The registration favors Democrats by better than 2-to-1.
In heavily Republican Orange County, voter registration is high, the highest of the state’s seven major counties that have a million people or more. Some 85.2 percent – or 1,603,312 — of Orange County’s 1.88 million eligible voters have registered. Republicans are dominant there by about 43.3 percent to 32.1 percent.
The lowest registration among the big counties is in Riverside, where 63 percent of the county’s 1.3 million eligible voters have actually registered.
During the past four statewide elections, Democratic registration has declined steadily, from 48.9 percent in 1994 to 46.8 percent in 1998 to 45.2 percent four years later and to a low of 42.7 percent in 2006. The uptick in Democratic registration since 2006 has been attributed, in part, to the 2008 presidential campaign that resulted in the election of Democrat Barack Obama.
Despite the Democratic declines, however, Republican registration has dropped even more dramatically, widening the gap between Democratic and Republican registration.
The pre-primary election registration report in 1994 showed Republicans with 37.1 percent. By 1998, they had lost two percentage points, and they remained relatively flat through 2006. But between 2006 and the current election cycle, they dropped four points – the largest cycle-to-cycle drop in 16 years.
The latest available numbers are roughly the same as before last year’s May special election.
In September 2009, voter profiles published by the Public Policy Institute of California noted that party affiliation appeared stronger for Democrats than Republicans. Two-thirds of Democrats described themselves as strongly affiliated with their party; on the Republican side, that number was 57 percent.
The PPIC report also noted that more than half of California Democrats live in Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay area, as do the majority of independents. Most Republicans live in San Diego/Orange counties, the Central Valley and Los Angeles.
According to the 15-Day Report, the minor parties’ registration has remained relatively flat. The largest is the American Independent Party with 397,136 registered voters, followed by the Green Party at 112,655, the Libertarian Party at 86,675 and the Peace & Freedom Party at 56,587.
Some 118,799 registered voters listed “other” as an affiliation.