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A growing number of Democrats in a key battleground state are flipping to the Republican Party in what is likely a warning sign for President Joe Biden.
According to Newsweek, “the most up-to-date voter registration data from the Pennsylvania Department of State shows that 35,589 registered Democrats have switched to their party affiliation of Republican this year, as of December 18, 2023. Comparably, 15,622 registered Republicans have switched their party affiliation to Democrats. There were also 20,908 former Democrats and 18,927 former Republicans who are now unaffiliated with either party.”
The outlet added: “The departure of voters and the net loss of 19,967 Democrats signals bad news for Biden, who only won Pennsylvania by some 80,000 votes in the 2020 election.”
Erik Telford, a senior vice president of public affairs at the Commonwealth Foundation, told Newsweek in an interview: “Current voter registration trends and polling in Pennsylvania should be setting off alarms for President Biden and Democrats at the state and national level, with pocketbook issues remaining the top concern of voters who overwhelmingly feel that things are headed in the wrong direction.”
According to a December poll by the Commonwealth Foundation, Biden’s approval rating among Pennsylvania voters has consistently remained in double-digit negative territory throughout 2023. In this year’s tracking by the foundation, his disapproval rating reached its highest level at 61 percent.
Although Biden’s approval among Democrats in Pennsylvania is notably higher than among Republicans (72 percent to 9 percent), it still falls below the national average. According to a Gallup survey released last Friday, Biden holds a 78 percent approval rating among Democrats nationwide.
The Commonwealth Foundation poll revealed that approximately one-third of registered voters stated they would vote for Biden in the 2024 election. However, 46 percent of respondents indicated that they would not vote for him in the general election, including 15 percent of Democrats who expressed their unwillingness to support him.
In a fictitious 2024 contest against former President Donald Trump, according to another survey by Emerson College conducted last month, nearly 75% of Pennsylvania Democrats would support Biden. However, 10 percent of Democrats would vote for Trump, while 30 percent remained undecided.
“With 20 Electoral College votes—the fifth most of any state—Pennsylvania is a critical state in presidential elections. Only twice between 1932 and 1988 has a presidential candidate been able to win the White House without carrying Pennsylvania, and no Democrat has been elected president without the state since 1948,” Newsweek noted.
In the 2020 election, Pennsylvania played a crucial role in Biden’s victory, just as it did for Trump in 2016, when he broke the state’s 24-year blue streak. Biden, who extensively campaigned in Pennsylvania during the 2020 election, successfully flipped several counties that had swung from Barack Obama to Trump in 2016. He also performed better than Hillary Clinton in certain Trump-leaning areas and garnered significant support from suburban voters, according to Newsweek.
Counties that played a key role in Biden’s 2020 victory, such as Allegheny, Bucks, and Westmoreland, experienced significant net losses for the Democratic Party. Specifically, in Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, 3,817 Democrats switched their registration to Republicans, the report said, citing the polling data.
In Bucks County, 1,131 Democrats made a similar switch, and in Westmoreland County, 1,169 Democrats changed their registration to Republican, it said.
“If I were involved in the Biden campaign, I’d be asking a lot of questions and doing all in my power to reverse this trend,” political consultant Jay Townsend told the outlet. “Biden does not have to win every swing state, but he can ill afford to lose Pennsylvania. Every vote will matter.”
Daniel Hopkins, a politics professor at the University of Pennsylvania who specializes in state politics, told Newsweek that rejecting the recent polling data and ignoring ongoing voter registration trends could come at Biden’s “own peril and have a significant impact on down-ballot races.”