An increasing count of Democrats in a crucial swing state are transitioning to the Republican Party, which is likely serving as a cautionary signal for President Joe Biden.
According to Newsweek, “the most up-to-date voter registration data from the Pennsylvania Department of State shows that 35,589 registered Democrats have switched to their party affiliation of Republican this year, as of December 18, 2023. Comparably, 15,622 registered Republicans have switched their party affiliation to Democrats. There were also 20,908 former Democrats and 18,927 former Republicans who are now unaffiliated with either party.”
The outlet added: “The departure of voters and the net loss of 19,967 Democrats signals bad news for Biden, who only won Pennsylvania by some 80,000 votes in the 2020 election.”
In an interview with Newsweek, Erik Telford, a senior vice president of public affairs at the Commonwealth Foundation, expressed his views: “Current voter registration trends and polling in Pennsylvania should be setting off alarms for President Biden and Democrats at the state and national level, with pocketbook issues remaining the top concern of voters who overwhelmingly feel that things are headed in the wrong direction.”
According to a recent poll conducted by the Commonwealth Foundation in December, Biden’s approval rating among Pennsylvania voters has consistently remained in negative territory throughout 2023, with double-digit figures. The foundation’s tracking for this year revealed that his disapproval rating reached its highest level at 61 percent.
While Biden’s approval among Democrats in Pennsylvania is notably higher than among Republicans, with 72 percent of Democrats approving compared to only 9 percent of Republicans, it still falls below the national average. A Gallup survey released last Friday indicated that Biden holds a 78 percent approval rating among Democrats nationwide.
The Commonwealth Foundation poll also found that approximately one-third of registered voters stated their intention to vote for Biden in the 2024 election. However, 46 percent of respondents indicated that they would not vote for him in the general election, including 15 percent of Democrats who expressed their unwillingness to support him.
In a hypothetical 2024 contest against former President Donald Trump, as per a survey conducted by Emerson College last month, nearly 75 percent of Pennsylvania Democrats would support Biden. However, 10 percent of Democrats would vote for Trump, while 30 percent remained undecided.
“With 20 Electoral College votes—the fifth most of any state—Pennsylvania is a critical state in presidential elections. Only twice between 1932 and 1988 has a presidential candidate been able to win the White House without carrying Pennsylvania, and no Democrat has been elected president without the state since 1948,” Newsweek noted.
During the 2020 election, Pennsylvania proved to be a pivotal state for both Biden and Trump. In 2016, Trump ended the state’s 24-year streak of voting for Democratic candidates, and in 2020, Biden successfully campaigned in Pennsylvania and managed to flip several counties that had previously supported Trump. Additionally, Biden performed better than Hillary Clinton in certain areas that traditionally leaned towards Trump, and he garnered significant support from suburban voters. However, despite Biden’s victory in the state, key counties such as Allegheny, Bucks, and Westmoreland experienced notable net losses for the Democratic Party. According to polling data, in Allegheny County alone, which includes Pittsburgh, 3,817 Democrats switched their registration to Republicans. Similarly, in Bucks County, 1,131 Democrats made a similar switch, and in Westmoreland County, 1,169 Democrats changed their registration to Republican.
“If I were involved in the Biden campaign, I’d be asking a lot of questions and doing all in my power to reverse this trend,” political consultant Jay Townsend told the outlet. “Biden does not have to win every swing state, but he can ill afford to lose Pennsylvania. Every vote will matter.”
Daniel Hopkins, an expert in state politics and a professor of politics at the University of Pennsylvania, cautioned Newsweek that disregarding the current polling data and overlooking the continuous trends in voter registration could pose a considerable risk to Biden and potentially influence the outcome of down-ballot races.