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Republican Voter Rolls Continue to Grow

Today is the final day West Virginians can register to be eligible to vote in the May 14 Primary Election. If the trend continues, the final numbers before the election will show that Republican registration will have grown, while Democratic registration will have declined or remained static.

Currently, 40.3 percent of all registered voters are Republican (474,160), 30.6 percent are Democrats (360,778), and 24.7 percent are no party/independent (290,719). The remaining five percent are Libertarian, Mountain, or another third party.

West Virginia has witnessed a steady shift from blue to red since the 2000 election. That year, George W. Bush became the first non-incumbent Republican to carry West Virginia since 1928, and Republican Shelley Moore Capito defeated Democrat Jim Humphreys in the 2nd District Congressional race.

Capito, who has now been elected and re-elected to the U.S. Senate, has played a major role in building the party, culminating in Republicans overtaking Democrats in registration in 2021 and ending nearly a century of Democratic dominance.

Capito’s office said at the time, “Capito has probably lost count of how many local Lincoln Day fund raising dinners she has attended over the years, how many phone calls she has made to prospective candidates, and how many times she has contributed to various campaigns.”

While Capito and others did the grunt work, Donald Trump has served as a top-of-the-ticket motivator. He carried the state by 40 points in each of the last two elections and GOP registration has grown by 19 percent, or 76,000 voters, over those eight years.

In 2016, only 14 of the state’s 55 counties had more Republicans registered than Democrats. By 2020, that number had risen to 26. And now, according to the latest voter registration numbers, 40 counties have Republican majorities.

Two of the most recent flips would have been unimaginable just a few years ago—Wyoming and Lincoln Counties. It’s razor close—just a five voter advantage in Wyoming and 28 more Republicans in Lincoln—but these two are deep in the heart of the historically loyal blue Democratic southern counties.

And more are trending toward a flip.

Republican registration is close to exceeding the Democrats in Brooke, Clay, Fayette, Summers, Webster and Wetzel Counties.  Kanawha County is still blue, but not by much. There are 42,797 registered Democrats and 41,707 Republicans.

There are states where Republicans have a greater numeric advantage than in West Virginia. For example, in Wyoming, 80 percent of all voters are Republican and in Utah Republicans outnumber Democrats almost four to one.

However, it is hard to imagine any other state where the political winds have shifted as much and as rapidly as they have in West Virginia.

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