HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Election data shows thousands of Pennsylvanians have switched parties for the upcoming primary elections.
Statistics from the Department of State show 191,831 Democrats switched to the Republican party over the last seven years combined. This year alone, approximately 100,000 Democrats switched over.
It’s a similar situation across the aisle. Over seven years, 108,542 Republicans switched to the Democratic party. This year alone, approximately 80,000 Republicans switched over.
“Voters tend to want to have a say in primaries when they feel there’s something huge at stake,” Susquehanna Polling and Research President Jim Lee said.
Lee went on to say that party switching tends to happen during open elections when both parties field several candidates.
Switching is now easier to do, thanks to online registration at votespa.com.
Additionally, this particular presidential election has become especially polarizing. Lee referenced Donald Trump as a key player in the controversy.
“Many love him and others hate him,” Lee said. “That will inspire turnout across the board from both his stalwart supporters and others that see him as a legitimate threat.”
WHTM has talked to voters off-camera who were originally registered as Democrats. They say they switched parties in order to vote for Trump. They believe he is the candidate Hillary Clinton can beat.
Others tell WHTM they switched parties for the opposite reason: to get Trump out of the race early. They see him as a threat.
“We’re in for a real interesting race here,” Lee said. “I’m not sure anybody can really sit here and predict what’s going to happen.”
Primaries in other states have been won and lost by thin margins.
“If you fear a candidate either on the Democratic side or the Republican side, how in good conscience could you sit out?” Lee asked.