The number of registered Republicans in Massachusetts has fallen by more than by 31,000 since the state elected Governor Mitt Romney four years ago, in a 6 percent drop that puts GOP ranks at their lowest point in six years, according to a count released yesterday.
With the Republican Party fighting to keep its 16-year hold on the governors office this Tuesday, the new figures show that Republicans make up 12.5 percent of the states voters, or 498,962. Four years ago, when the state elected Romney, there were 530,512 registered Republicans, making up 13.4 percent of the electorate.
"The last 10 years, its as if the Republican Party has been evaporating in this state," said Todd Domke, a Republican analyst who has worked with the national party. "But its less a matter of registration than fewer candidates, fewer officeholders, fewer leaders, and no strategy to reverse the trend. That's whats disturbing."
The registration numbers also reflected an increase in unenrolled voters over the last four years. The number who do not belong to a political party swelled by almost 22,000 since 2002, to 1.98 million, or almost 50 percent of registered voters in the state. Also, unenrolled voters were responsible for the largest registration jump since this years primary, increasing by almost 39,000 since September.
The number of unenrolled voters increased by almost 39,000 since the primary to 1.9 million, or almost 50 percent of registered voters in Massachusetts.
"One of the things we have done is a lot of phone banking since the primary, trying to get people to get out and vote, so were hopefully seeing the results of that," said Nicole Nionakis, spokesman for independent Christy Mihos. "Fifty percent is an amazing number, and its great for Christy. As hes said, those are his people. Hes an independent candidate, and unenrolled people are who he is targeting.
Brian Dodge, executive director of the state Republican Party, said the GOP is also targeting independent voters as it readies for the contest among Republican nominee Kerry Healey, Democrat Deval Patrick, Mihos, and Green-Rainbow Party candidate Grace Ross.
"Unenrolled doesnt mean undecided, said Dodge, who defended this years slate of GOP candidates. "I would describe [many of the unenrolled] as closet Republicans."
Democrats gained about 30,000 voters in the last four years, increasing their numbers by 2 percent, according to the new registration data.
The data released yesterday did not include numbers for other political affiliations, including Green-Rainbow and Libertarian, which should be available today.