(The Center Square) – North Carolina voter registration switches for 2023 through the end of September show a net loss of more than 12,800 Democrats, with combined net increases for Republican and unaffiliated registrations of about the same.
Recently released data from the North Carolina Board of Elections through the end of September show 26,863 Democrats switched their registrations in 2023, with 7,079 changing to Republican and 19,784 registering as unaffiliated.
Another 22,215 left the Republican Party, with 2,431 registering as Democrats and 17,121 registering unaffiliated. A total of 11,554 unaffiliated voters switched their registrations to Democrat, while 13,608 joined Republicans.
In total, the net changes resulted in 12,878 fewer Democrats, 1,135 more Republicans, and 11,743 more unaffiliated voters through the end of September. On Sept. 30, the state’s more than 7.3 million registered voters were split 36% unaffiliated, 33% Democratic, and 30% Republican, with less than 1% combined registered with the Green, Constitution, Libertarian, and No Labels parties.
The numbers continue a trend away from the Democratic Party toward unaffiliated and Republican registrations that dates back more than a decade.
Since Sept. 29, 2012, Democrats have lost a total of 375,248 registrations, unaffiliated registrations have increased by more than 1 million, and Republicans have gained 196,012.
Andy Jackson, director of the right-leaning John Locke Foundation’s Civitas Center for Public Policy, said biennial voter list maintenance during odd number years influences the overall trends, but at the current trajectory Republicans are expected to outnumber Democrats by the end of the decade.
“I would say our best guess at the moment is (that will happen) some time around 2029,” he said, “but that’s a moving number.”
The registrations have also shifted some with state recognition of the No Labels party, fronted by former Gov. Pat McCrory, which is considering running a third-party candidate for president in 2024.
A total of 1,825 North Carolina voters in 93 counties have registered with No Labels since mid-August, Chris Cooper, politics professor at Western Carolina University, noted on social media Sunday.
Party switches to No Labels through September include 307 from unaffiliated, 118 from Democrats, 77 from Republicans, and five from the Libertarian Party, according to Jackson.
“Their progress on registrations is pretty good for a party just starting out,” Jackson said. “It is really hard for these parties to have staying power, though.”
Jackson noted that to remain a viable party in North Carolina, No Labels will need to garner a certain level of support for a candidate in the governor’s race or maintain an official party in dozens of states.
“I’m not sure No Labels will be able to continue in the long run, considering the system we have,” he said. “They very well could be gone four years from now.”