Even the best bloggers and prognosticators get it wrong sometimes and I did last week when I posted the voter registration numbers from before and after the Republican and Democratic presidential caucuses. The April posted numbers were correct, however it appears the Alaska Division of Elections had not finished processing all of the registration forms from the Democratic Caucus when they posted the numbers. As a result Alaska Democrats got short changed in the analysis…by a lot.
Here is an updated version of that story with more updated numbers.
Last month both the Alaska Republican Party and Alaska Democratic Party held their presidential caucuses. Both Republicans and Democrats require caucus participants to be registered members of their party. That means large groups of voters who are registered as “undeclared” or “non-partisan” but want to vote for their favorite candidate such as Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, or Bernie Sanders must register with that candidate’s party to vote for them.
Those party rules allow party insiders the opportunity to gauge their grassroots support by tracking registration changes.
According to the Alaska Division of Elections (DOE) just before the caucuses in March, Alaska had 134,676 registered Republicans, 70,187 Democrats and 275,572 undeclared and non-partisan voters. By mid-April, after the caucuses those numbers had shifted to 139,193 Republicans, 76,137 Democrats, and 269,070 undeclared and non-partisan voters. That marks a significant net increase for both Republicans, at 4,517 (+3.3%) and 5,950 (+8.4%) for Democrats. Undeclared and non-partisan categories dropped 6,502 (-2.3%) voters.
The Democrats, despite having half as many registered party members in Alaska as Republicans, substantially outpaced the Alaska GOP in signing up new voters and convincing undeclared and non-partisan voters to affiliate with the party.
In response to the new numbers Alaska Democratic Party spokesman Jake Hamburg said:
“We are excited so many Alaskans chose to join the Alaska Democratic Party and participate in the presidential caucuses. It’s no secret that caucuses are more involved than casting a ballot. The record turnout and new registrations shows our presidential candidates have generated enthusiasm across the political spectrum. We hope these party newcomers take advantage of the opportunities to get more involved and shape the direction of the party. We’re already encouraged to see a number of new Democrats serving as delegates to the state convention and seeking to become delegates to the national convention. “
The only conclusion that can be drawn from these new numbers is that Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who won the Alaska Democratic Caucus with 81% of the vote, has a far more motivated base in Alaska among those outside of the current party structure than the GOP’s top contenders Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.
The numbers also significantly reverse a long trend in Alaska voter registration numbers that had Alaska Republicans closing in on twice as many registered party members as the Alaska Democrats.
The Alaska Republican Party still leads in overall membership at 27.2% of registered voters, while the Alaska Democratic Party sits at 14.9%.
As usual, vastly more Alaska voters, 52.7%, prefer to align themselves with none of the political parties.