Share of Democratic Registrations Is Declining, but What Does It Mean?

Newly registered voters, who are disproportionately young and nonwhite, have tended to lean Democratic.

That’s been less and less true during the Biden era.

A majority of states ask people to select a party affiliation when they register, and last year newly registered Democrats made up only about 53 percent of those who chose a major party — beating Republican sign-ups by a narrow margin of 26 percent to 23 percent of total registrations — according to data from L2, a nonpartisan voter data vendor.

The tepid Democratic numbers among new registrants are a small but surprising part of Donald J. Trump’s narrow early lead in the polls. Taking the last two national New York Times/Siena College polls together, President Biden leads by less than a percentage point among voters who say they voted in 2020, but he trails by 23 points among those who say they didn’t vote in 2020 — and about one third of those nonvoters are new registrants, who aren’t offering Democrats their usual support.

The party’s underperformance among newly registered voters is all the more striking given the demographic makeup of the new registrants. Half are younger than 30, and half are nonwhite. Yet they’re less Democratic than the older and whiter voters already registered in these same states with party registration.

And those states with party registration are more Democratic than the nation as a whole — they voted for President Biden by nine percentage points on average in 2020. So if Democratic registrations have only a three-point edge in those states, that might not bode well for the party nationwide.

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