Democrats continue their remarkable Fresno County voter-registration turnaround, opening up an almost 8,000 registered-voter lead over the rival Republicans, according to data released this week by the Secretary of State’s office.
In 2000, Republicans in Fresno County overtook Democrats in voter registration totals for the first time in anyone’s memory. That lead peaked in 2004 with a GOP advantage of more than 24,000 voters.
Since then, it’s pretty much been a red wave — downward.
Even worse for Republicans, the freefall seems to be accelerating. They have lost more than 5,000 voters since early 2010, the last time they held a voter-registration edge over the Democrats.
Before Democrats celebrate, however, they should consider this: the fastest growing “party” in Fresno County — as it is statewide — is those who choose not to affiliate with a political party. They used to be called “decline to state,” but are now known as “no party preference.”
In 2010, no party preference voters made up 11.3% of the Fresno County total. The most recent numbers show that is now 17.7%. In real numbers, no party preference has gained more than 28,000 registered voters since 2010, while Democrats have only picked up 3,421. (And Republicans have lost voters.)
And while Fresno County may be looking bluer by the year, the same can’t be said of the other central San Joaquin Valley counties. Tulare, Kings and Madera continue to look solidly red.
Democrats lost ground since 2010 in those three counties.
Not that it’s perfect for the GOP in those locales, either. As in Fresno County, no party preference is trending upward in Tulare, Kings and Madera, though not as dramatically as in Fresno County.
In addition, Democrats have yet to show they can translate voter-registration advantages into election paydirt.
The latest numbers show they hold a 17-percentage-point edge in Hanford Republican Andy Vidak’s 14th state Senate District, and a 14-percentage point lead in Rep. David Valadao’s west-side congressional district.
Both face reelection this year.
But Valadao has already shown he can overcome such deficits — once in an Assembly run and in his 2012 congressional run. Vidak proved the same in his state Senate run last year. These two races will be good measuring sticks for Democrats.
Two other testing grounds for Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts are the two Fresno County supervisorial seats that are up for grabs this year. The seats are technically non-partisan, but it’s usually clear who belongs to what party.
Phil Larson in District 1 and Judy Case in District 4 — both Republicans — are retiring. Democrats are running in both districts. Democrats hold voter-registration edges in both districts.