KENTUCKY — For the first time in the state's history, the number of registered Republican voters outnumbers Democrats, Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams announced Friday.
What You Need To Know
- There are now more registered Republicans than Democrats in Kentucky
- The shift marks the first time ever the GOP outnumbers Democrats
- That gives the GOP a plurality of voters, but not an absolute majority since nearly 10% of the electorate identifies as third party
As of June 30, Republicans made up 45.19% of Kentucky's electorate compared to Democrats' 45.12%. That gives the GOP a plurality of voters, but not an absolute majority, which Adams highlighted in his announcement.
"To win statewide elections, and then to govern effectively, Republican candidates must appeal beyond our base to the 55% of voters who are not Republicans," he said.
Out of Kentucky's 3,567,303 registered voters, Republicans grew their ranks to a high of 1,612,060 — representing growth of over 35,000 over the past year, according to data from the state Board of Elections.
In that same time frame, the number of registered Democrats fell 40,221. Kentucky is home to 345,674 third-party voters, nearly 10% of the total electorate.
Forty years ago, Democrats made up 68% of Kentucky's electorate, which dwarfed the 28% identifying as Republicans at the time. After dominating the state's politics for over a century, things have noticeably changed.
Democrats controlled all three branches of state government for most of the 1990s before ceding the Senate to Republicans in 2000. They've since not taken back the Senate, and lost the state House in 2016.
The swing from blue to red has been years in the making and is likely to stick around based on voter registration numbers. The GOP holds dominate supermajorities in both the state House and Senate.
Though Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear is currently holding statewide office, with glowing favorability, Kentucky has not elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since Wendell Ford, who left office in 1999.