Disappearing Democrats

Rethinking Partisanship Within Pennsylvania's Electorate


  • Bernard D. Yost




Pennsylvania has more registered Democrats than Republicans, yet Republicans control most of the statewide elected offices and both chambers of the state legislature. How is it possible that the Democrats' registration advantage does not lead to more Democratic electoral success? Using a random survey of Pennsylvania voters and comparative questions on party orientation and party registration, this article finds that many of the state's voters identify with a political party that is different from the party in which they are actually registered. Party identification is important because it is a better predictor of voting behavior than is party registration. The article finds that more registered Democrats in Pennsylvania identify with the Republican Party than vice versa, making the Democrats' registration advantage an advantage in name only.