By Beau Yarbrough, The Sun
Posted: 03/09/16 – 12:16 AM PST |

Even as California’s population is growing, the rate of voter registration is down, and more Californians are declaring themselves independent of the traditional two-party system, a shift that’s come mostly at the expense of the Republican Party.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla recently released a report on voter registration as of Jan. 5, showing that 70.2 percent of eligible Californians are registered to vote. That’s down almost 2 percent from the same period four years ago, but higher than comparable points in 2008, 2007 and 1999.

Fewer of those voters are sticking with the Grand Old Party: Only 27.6 percent of voters, or about 4.76 million Californians, are registered as Republicans, down almost 3 percent from 5.17 million voters four years ago. Democrats mostly held steady, dipping from 43.6 percent of the voters in 2012 to 43.1 percent today, for a total of 7.44 million Californians.

During that four-year period, the number of eligible voters in the state grew from 23.6 million residents to 24.5 million, although the number of registered voters grew by only 231,123.

But about 24 percent of voters have declared no party preference, up almost 3 percent — half a million voters — from four years ago.

“It’s not surprising; it’s a continuation of a trend that’s been going on for over 20 years,” said Jack Pitney, professor of American politics at Claremont McKenna College. “There really is not much reason to make a public declaration of their political preference.”

That shift isn’t necessarily disaffected Republicans leaving the party, according to former San Bernardino County Republican chairman and county assessor Bill Postmus. They may have left California altogether.

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