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Democrat Chances Slip In Latest Voter Tallies

by Richard Gilman

Democrats may be losing the slim chance they had of being somebody this fall, judging by the latest voter registration figures released this month by the secretary of state’s office.

The release is the first official confirmation of the affiliation of voters in each of the new congressional and legislative districts created last fall by the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) and accepted this spring by the Justice Department.

The commission set up most districts with sizeable majorities of either one party or the other, but left eight districts – three congressional and five legislative – that could be considered at least somewhat competitive.  In those eight districts, the commission figured Democrats and Republicans were within 10 percentage points of each other based on a “competitiveness index” that mixed voter registration and voting patterns in recent elections.

The balance of power in the state would be set on its ear in the unlikely event the Democrats were to win all of the contested districts.  Sweeping those races, plus victories in those districts that are so heavily laden with Democratic voters that the results are a foregone conclusion, would give them a majority of Arizona’s congressional delegation and a 50-50 split of the Legislature.  A full earlier examination of the possibilities.

The chances of that, slim as they might have been, are further dampened by the latest voter registration figures.

Democrat Registration Drops Statewide

The figures show the number of registered Democrats has fallen by 20,000 since last fall’s election. The 1.13 million Republicans represent 35.9 percent of voters, 1.04 million unaffiliated voters comprise 33.1 percent, and the 947,000 Democrats make up 30.1 percent.  The complete figures from the secretary of state.

In keeping with the downward trend across the state, Democrats slipped in comparison with Republicans in every one of the eight districts that might be considered competitive.

Democrats Lose Ground in Key Congressional Districts

Democrats lost upwards of a percentage point in each of the three congressional districts on the list. Of the three, they hold a voter registration advantage only in the mammoth 1st congressional district, which stretches along the eastern side of the state from the Navajo reservation to just north of Tucson.

As for the other two, Republicans hold slight but growing advantages in the new 2nd congressional district, much of which is now represented by the newly elected Democrat Ron Barber, and the controversial 9th district, which curls through the eastside of Phoenix.

Whoever wins these races will add them to victories the respective parties can pretty much count on.  Republicans have likely insurmountable advantages in four congressional districts.  Democrats have similar advantages in the remaining two.

Republicans Also Gain in Tight Legislative Districts

On the legislative side, the Republicans also gained ground in all five districts that looked remotely competitive based on the figures used by the IRC.

The Democratic voter registration losses ranged up to 1.9 percentage points in the new District 8, which covers a good portion of Pinal County.  Even so, they still hold a fairly substantial advantage there of 36.1 percent to the Republicans’ 29.1 percent.  Democrats also hold smaller advantages, now even slimmer, in Districts 9 and 10 in Tucson.

Republicans, meanwhile, padded their existing advantage in the two other possibly competitive districts: District 6, which covers Flagstaff and parts of three other rural counties, and District 18 on the southeast side of metro Phoenix.

That’s in addition to the 15 districts – of the 30 in the state – where they already hold commanding voter registration advantages for the House and Senate elections in the fall. It appeared at the start of the year that Democrats had similar advantages in 10 districts.

At least one of those may be at risk, however, judging by the latest voter tallies.  Republicans are making inroads in the new District 26 on the far eastside of metro Phoenix. The district is actually one of two in the state with a plurality of unaffiliated voters, making it something of a wild card.  And among Democrats and Republicans, the Democratic margin is down to 5,000 voter

 

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