By Leo Wolfson, State Politics Reporter
Although Wyoming has shown to be one of the most conservative states in the country, the Republican Party has lost registered voters in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 8 general election.
There were 1,335 fewer registered Republicans on Nov. 1 than compared to Oct. 1, a 0.4% drop.
Many people will likely point to the trend of Democrats crossing back to register with their own party for the General Election as a reason for the loss of GOP registered voters.
During the August primary, there were 8,201 Democratic ballots cast, compared to the 25,526 that were tabulated for Democrats in the 2020 primary and 19,459 counted in the 2018 primary.
Many Democrats in Wyoming openly admitted to changing party affiliation so they could vote in the Republican primary and vote for U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, a practice Wyoming Democratic Party Chairman Joe Barbuto also said he saw happen.
Conversely, the Democratic Party gained 1,702 voters in October a 5.2% increase. Unaffiliated voters also grew by 579.
The Crossover Effect
The 2018 election was the last time major allegations of crossover voting were levied in a Wyoming primary.
In the lead up to that election, the Republican Party gained 641 voters from October to November. Few people made claims about crossover voting in the 2020 election, but there were 12,761 people who affiliated as Republicans between Oct. 1, 2020, and the Nov. 3 general election, while the Democratic Party also gained 3,142 people.
In terms of practicality, party registration has no bearing on voting in a general election, as voters can vote for candidates of any party they choose. It’s in Wyoming’s primary elections where voters must register with a particular party to participate in partisan elections.
There are 21,598 more registered voters in Wyoming than on Nov. 1, 2018. In the six days that followed before that year’s general election, 1,387 more people registered to vote in the state.
Not everyone who is registered will vote in elections. For example, in 2018 there were 71,421 registered voters who didn’t show up at the polls for the general election, 25% of the registered voter pool.
Most of Wyoming’s highly contested races are traditionally decided in the primary because of the overwhelming Republican majority in the state. This year is no different for statewide races, which could cool voter interest in the general election. However, there are a number of competitive Wyoming Legislature races and a statewide amendment that will be asked of voters on the ballot.
Presidential election years typically draw more voters than non-presidential elections, but there are 30,978 more people registered to vote now in Wyoming than there were Nov. 1, 2020.
A total of 182,232 people voted in this year’s primary election, a record for a state primary, up from 139,809 in 2018. In 2020, 278,503 people voted in the general election, an increase of 73,228 from the general election in 2018.
The Secretary of State’s office will provide updated voter registration numbers at the beginning of election day Nov. 8.