About 19,000 Pennsylvanians have left the Republican Party since Jan 6. That’s a drop in the bucket for a state with more than 8.8 million registered voters, and almost 3.5 million Republicans. But it’s also an unusually high rate of defections: Almost two-thirds of the voters who have switched parties this year left the GOP, compared with a third or less typically.
And there are signs of a broader political shift underway. These are often longtime party loyalists, highly engaged voters who cast Republican primary ballots in low-profile, off-year elections, according to an Inquirer analysis of voter registration data. They haven’t changed their political ideologies, they said in interviews. But they’re registering as third-party or independent voters because they believe that their political home, now led by Trump, has changed around them.
Although voters are always changing their registration for a variety of reasons, former Republicans interviewed largely were united in why they left: They saw it as a protest against a party that questioned the legitimacy of their votes and the culmination of long-simmering frustration with Trump and his supporters, who now largely control the GOP.
That raises the prospect of a Republican primary electorate even friendlier to Trump and Trump-allied candidates — something that could have big implications for the party in competitive races for governor and US Senate next year.