Since Jan. 1, 2016, roughly 19,800 registered Democrats in Massachusetts have ditched their party affiliation. This mass defection of voters from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has been attributed to “The Trump Phenomenon.”
Roughly 3,500 former Bay State Democrats have hopped off the party of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy and joined the Massachusetts GOP, according to the Boston Herald.
Secretary of State William Galvin recalled party shifts in the 2000 primary, when a number of Bay State Democrats defected so that they could vote for Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who ultimately failed to win the nomination in that election cycle.
However, those numbers pale in comparison to the thousands of former DNC members who have either flocked to the GOP or opted to become “unenrolled” voters in order to vote for business mogul Donald Trump.
Galvin called this shift “The Trump Phenomenon."
"People are interested. It’s exciting," he said.
There are roughly 468,000 registered Massachusetts GOP voters, but Galvin expects as many as 700,000 voting in the Republican primary, along with hundreds of thousands of independents showing up largely to vote for Trump.
Bay State voters are seen as one of the most liberal populations in the U.S., with even its Republican voters known for voting in moderate GOP lawmakers.
The current Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker is known for his centrist positions and ability to work with Democrats, according to The Washington Post.
In spite of this, Trump is leading the Massachusetts GOP primary by 50 percent, according to a Feb. 22 poll conducted by Emerson College. The business mogul could garner a huge win in the Bay State despite its moderate-minded voter base.
“Well, one of the interesting things about Donald Trump’s candidacy is that it’s not a very issue-oriented or ideologically-oriented candidacy,” UMass Dartmouth political science professor Doug Roscoe told WNPR.
“You know, his big issue has really been about immigration, and he’s taken a pretty conservative position on that to be sure, but beyond on that I bet most voters would be hard pressed to tell you where Donald Trump stands on anything,” Roscoe concluded.
Gov. Baker had supported New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for the GOP nomination, but now Christie has dropped out of the race and thrown his support behind Trump, according to CBS Boston.
Baker has refused to follow.
“I’ve made it clear that I’m not voting for Donald Trump,” Baker said on Feb. 29, the day before the Bay State held its Super Tuesday vote. “As I’ve said many times before… he’s not my guy and he’s not my candidate.”
While the thousands of Bay State Democrats that have left their party in 2016 may indicate a “Trump Phenomenon,” Massachusetts will remain firmly blue. The defectors account for only 1.3 percent of the total number of 1.49 million voters allied with the Bay State DNC.