Saturday, October 20, 2018

Losses in Registered Democrats have Accelerated Since 2016 for Cambria and Somerset Counties (PA)


Cambria County used to be a reliable county for Democrats.  This was especially true for Democratic Presidential candidates from 1960 to 2000.  Pundits were shocked when in 2016 Donald Trump won the county with 66% of the vote.  .  For one year after there were several documentary filmmakers (including Katie Couric for National Geographic and Gary Younge from the Guardian) working on projects in the county trying to figure out why it switched so abruptly to the GOP and what the area needed.  The question remains what has happened there since 2016?  Voter registration numbers can provide clues to the mood of the voters before the votes are counted.

Katie Couric came to Cambria County in 2017 to see what has changed
Cambria County
2014
2016
2018
% Change ’14-‘18
% Change ’14-‘16
% Change ’16-‘18
Democrat
48,417
45,378
41,332
-14.7
-6.4
-8.9
Republican
27,475
32,756
33,261
+21.1
+19.2
+1.5
Other
8,287
8,714
8,580
+3.5
+5.2
-1.5
Population
137,386
134,313
133,054*
-3.2*
-2.2
-1.0*
*2017 estimates


The table above first appeared in the website Darply and has been updated with new information. shows the voter registration data by party for Cambria County for November 2014, 2016, and 2018 with estimated population data for the county from the Census Bureau for comparison.  From 2014 to 2018, there was a 14.7% decrease in registered Democrats, a 21.1% increase in registered Republicans, and a 3.5% increase those registered with other parties or independent.  When we look more closely at the numbers, we see the gains for the Republicans mostly occurred between 2014 and 2016 while losses for the Democrats and those registered as other have increased after 2016.  These losses are larger relative to changes in the county's population.

Somerset County
2014
2016
2018
% Change ’14-‘18
% Change ’14-‘16
% Change ’16-‘18
Democrat
18,746
17,611
15,568
-17.0
-6.1
-11.6
Republican
24,307
27,363
26,879
10.6
12.6
-1.8
Other
4,404
4,719
4,541
3.1
7.2
-3.8
Population
76,292
75,070
74,501*
-2.3*
-1.6
-0.8*
*2017 estimates

For comparison I looked at the registration numbers for Somerset County which is directly to the south of Cambria over the same period in local and Presidential elections.  Since at least 1956 it has been a reliable county for Republicans.  Overall there was a 17% decrease in registered Democrats from 2014-2018 with a 10.6% increase in registered Republicans and a 3.1% increase in other voters.  Before the 2016 election, there was a 12.6% increase in registered Republicans with a 1.8% decrease afterward.  For the Democrats there was a 6.1% decrease from 2014-2016 but an 11.6% decrease from 2016-2018.  For voters registered as outside the two parties there was a 7.2% increase from 2014-2016 with a 3.8% decrease in the next period.  Like Cambria County, these changes have outpaced changes in population numbers.  

The decrease in registered voters for Democrats for both counties could be bad news for Democrats running for office there this year.  Likewise, the decrease in gains for Repubicans since 2016 is not terrible news but may not signify a red wave for them.  However voter registration does not always correspond to they way that people vote.  The Democrats in Cambria County had a registration advantave of roughly 13,000 in 2016 but lost the county by about 23,000 votes to Trump.


**Related Posts**

Election Epilogue



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