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Presidential Race Drives Surge of New Registrations

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio News / File

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio News / File

California is seeing a surge in voter registration ahead of the state’s June 7 presidential primary election. But it's not necessarily the way you might expect.

Throughout the presidential race and all across the country, Republican voter registration has exploded. It's a sign, perhaps, of the strong feelings provoked by GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

But California is kind of an island, says Sacramento-based political data guru Paul Mitchell: It’s not as driven by national trends. Yes, 850,000 new voters registered between January and March – twice as many as the last presidential election year. But the party breakdown might surprise you.

“At first, there was a lot of Republican registration around this primary,“ Mitchell says. “But as we got into the later months and the greatest conversation about Donald Trump, it seems as though there’s a reflexive turnout boom among Democrats and Latinos because of the national conversation.”

Mitchell says the biggest surges came on high-profile election days like Super Tuesday. He also says the number of Democrats or “no party preference” voters re-registering to vote in the Republican primary is miniscule when compared to total number of eligible GOP voters.

 Election 2016

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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