In advance of this November's midterm congressional elections, a political shift is already being felt across the country as hundreds of thousands of voters who helped fuel the Democratic Party's gains in recent years are becoming Republicans.
More than 1 million voters across 43 states have switched to the Republican Party over the last year, according to voter registration data analyzed by AP. The previously unreported number reflects a phenomenon that is playing out in virtually every region of the country — Democratic and Republican states along with cities and small towns — in the period since President Joe Biden took office.
A Conservative Shift in the Burbs
But nowhere is the shift more pronounced — and dangerous for Democrats — than in the suburbs, where well-educated swing voters who turned against the Republican Party in recent years appear to be swinging back. Over the last year, far more people are switching to the GOP across suburban counties from Denver to Atlanta and Pittsburgh, and Cleveland. Republicans also gained ground in counties around medium-size cities such as Harrisburg, PA; Raleigh, NC; Augusta, GA; and Des Moines, Iowa.
The Great Reset, Biblical Prophecy and more on the latest episode of CBN's Quick Start Podcast:
Ben Smith, who lives in suburban Larimer County, CO, north of Denver, said he reluctantly registered as a Republican earlier in the year after becoming increasingly concerned about the Democrats' support in some localities for mandatory COVID-19 vaccines, the party's inability to quell violent crime, and its escalating focus on race.
"It's more so a rejection of the left than embracing the right," said Smith, a 37-year-old professional counselor whose transition away from the Democratic Party began five or six years ago when he registered as a libertarian.
Also in Larimer County, 39-year-old homemaker Jessica Kroells said she can no longer vote for Democrats, despite being a reliable Democratic voter up until 2016.
There was not a single "aha moment" that convinced her to switch, but by 2020, she said the Democratic Party had "left me behind."
"The party itself is no longer Democrat, it's progressive socialism," she said, specifically condemning Biden's plan to eliminate billions of dollars in student debt.
The AP examined nearly 1.7 million voters who had likely switched affiliations across 42 states, for which there is data over the last 12 months, according to L2, a political data firm.
While party switching is not uncommon, the data shows a definite reversal from the period while former President Donald Trump was in office, when Democrats enjoyed a slight edge in the number of party switchers nationwide.
However, over the last year, roughly two-thirds of the 1.7 million voters who changed their party affiliation shifted to the Republican Party. In all, more than 1 million people became Republicans compared to about 630,000 who became Democrats.
Is Abortion as Emotionally Charged for Voters as Inflation?
Democrats are hoping the Supreme Court's decision on Friday to overrule Roe v. Wade will energize voters to go to the polls.
But will the high court's decision be felt in the midterms? In reaction, veteran Democratic strategist James Carville told Fox News, "If the needle is not moved by the end of July, it's just not gonna move."
"Obviously the abortion case is kinda the headline here, but there's just a lot of other stuff that's going on," Carville said. "And Trump may announce in July. … I think you gotta take everything together. Political actions have become so hardened that if this doesn't move 'em, nothing will."
Hank Sheinkopf, Democratic campaign strategist explained voters tend to make decisions based on their emotions.
"Is abortion as emotionally charged as inflation, increased food costs, 6 bucks a gallon of gas, and a general sense that things are out of control?" he told Fox. "You won't know until November. And if the demonstrations over this decision become violent, the reaction won't help the Democrats."
Nevertheless, the move by Americans to change their political party is a warning to Democrats who are already concerned about the total effect of the Biden presidency at the ballot box.
'Out of Touch With the American People'
A little more than four months before Election Day, Democrats have no clear strategy to address Biden's weak popularity and voters' overwhelming fear that the country is headed in the wrong direction with their party in charge. The GOP has been working to effectively capitalize on the Democrats' shortcomings.
Republicans benefited last year as parents grew increasingly frustrated by prolonged pandemic-related school closures and leftist ideologies in schools. That's what contributed to a red wave election in Virginia.
And as inflation has intensified this year, the Republican National Committee has been hosting voter registration events at gas stations in suburban areas across swing states like Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania to link the Biden administration to record-high gas prices.
"Biden and Democrats are woefully out of touch with the American people, and that's why voters are flocking to the Republican Party in droves," RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said. She predicted that "American suburbs will trend red for cycles to come" because of "Biden's gas hike, the open border crisis, baby formula shortage, and rising crime."
Over the last year, nearly every state — even those without high-profile Republican primaries — moved in the same direction as voters by the thousands became Republicans.
In Iowa, Democrats used to hold the advantage in party changers by a 2-to-1 margin. That's flipped over the last year, with Republicans ahead by a similar amount. The same dramatic shift is playing out in Ohio.
In Florida, Republicans captured 58 percent of party switchers during those last years of the Trump era. Now, over the last year, they command 70 percent. And in Pennsylvania, the Republicans went from 58 to 63 percent of party changers.