Is 'inconclusive' on the ballot?
But a question that has come up in conversation for me has been whether there is some party switching ahead of the PA primary. The idea is that some D's are going to switch to R in order to vote for the candidate they think will be weakest in the fall. Would be a rational strategic logic, if more than a bit disingenuous. Can we tell from any data whether it is happening?
First off. Let's look at the voter registration trends for Pennsylvania for the two major parties. From the state's voter registration page I get this time series of voters registered as Democrats or Republicans since 1998:
So that does not say much to answer this question on party switchers. There is data the state has on that same page detailing party to party switches over time. The question is whether something is different of late heading into the voter registration deadline later this month. First is what those voter registration stats look like over the last few years:
Democrats switching to Republicans= 91,160
Republicans switching to Democrats = 56,233
Which gives me a ratio of 1.62 D's switching to R for every R switching to D.
If that ratio seems inconsistent with the time series above, realize this is just looking at party switchers which is a relatively small flow compared to new registrants. Among voters registering for the first time D's outnumber R's. Now lets look at what the recent stats look like:
For the week 2/27 to 3/5:
Democrats switching to Republicans= 1,227
Republicans switchin to Democrats = 332
Which gives me a ratio of 3.67.
So for whatever reason there are indeed a lot more switchers of Democrats to Republicans of late than is typical of the rate over the last few years. Whether that is for the reason hypothesized... that folks are looking to vote for the candidate they fear the least I don't know. It's possible some folks just like to be able to vote and the D primary is uncontested. Or of course there is a big resurgence in the Republican party that is very strong very recently.