Fewer Republicans, more Democrats could be signs of a coming blue wave
If evidence is needed of a blue wave washing over the country, the downward trend of Republicans in both Darien and New Canaan could be patient zero.
In 2011, there were 6,069 Republicans registered in Darien. As of Oct. 1, this number is now at 5,724, a decline of 5 percent.
A similar trend is occurring in New Canaan. According to official numbers from their registrar of voters, there were 6,425 Republicans registered in 2017. As of Oct. 1, this number is now at 6,285, a decline of 2 percent.
In both towns, the number of registered Democrats has increased, though they still are by far the minority in both towns. For New Canaan, there were 2,869 registered Democrats in 2017. This increased to 2,986 as of Oct. 1, an increase of 4 percent.
Beth Jones, chairman of the New Canaan Democratic Town Committee, attributed the rise in numbers to what’s going on in Washington, D.C.
“In my own humble opinion, I would guess it’s all about Trump,” Jones said. “It’s hard to say but I think there’s a lot more of the younger people and women who are registering Democrats and I’m guessing that’s why.”
Jones also pointed out the number of fewer registered Republicans in town.
“I think we have some very well-educated Republicans in town, and they’re not Trump Republicans and are dropping their affiliation and moving it,” Jones said.
In the 2011 election, there were 2,333 registered Democrats in Darien. As of Oct. 1, this number has increased to 2,787, an increase of 19 percent.
John Visi, the Republican registrar of voters in Darien, said the upcoming election has drawn a lot of attention.
“We’ve had a lot of new registrations,” Visi said. “People that haven’t voted in years are calling to get themselves active again.”
Evidence of a shift may have first been seen during the 2016 presidential election when both towns voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton over Republican Donald Trump. Darien hadn’t voted for a Democrat for president since 1888 and New Canaan not since 1964.
Even in a more traditionally balanced town like Westport, there was an increase in registered Democrats. According to data from their registrar’s office, the number of registered Democrats increased from 6,322 in 2010 to 6,849 as of August, an increase of 8 percent. Republicans in Westport dropped 10 percent between 2010 until now, down from 4,921 to 4,390 registered voters.
Sharad Samy, a 47-year-old Darien resident, said after years of being a Republican he became a Democrat when Barack Obama was first elected. Since then, he said he has not liked the direction his former party has gone.
“I think now, certainly more than ever, I find very little that I think the current Republican administration or current Republican Party is embracing that’s American,” he said. “It’s sad.”
Samy joined fellow residents, politicians and people from out of town in Tilley Pond Park on Sunday to rally voters for the upcoming election.
David Bayne, chair of the Darien Democratic Town Committee, worked to put the event together, which saw nearly 200 people attend.
“It used to be said that being a Darien Democrat was a lonely task, but not anymore,” Bayne said at the rally.
For Samy, the Republican’s embrace of an extreme view of the United States betrayed what many Republicans used to stand for.
“I think there are some very good people that would say they were Republicans or may even still call themselves Republicans that are moving into the independent world and then to Democrat,” he said.
Gary Rose, chairman of the department of government, politics and global studies at Sacred Heart University, said the country is in a state of transition.
“It’s not just the Trump effect, which would be an easy explanation,” Rose said. “It’s a broader trend.”
Highly educated wealthy people are transitioning to the Democratic Party, he said. On the other end, a lot of working-class citizens have moved to the Republican Party.
“Much of this is due to the fact the Republican Party has moved to the right on a lot of the more contentious hot-button issues,” Rose said.
Despite the trend, it could take a number of years before the effects are of a change are fully seen. The shift in bases for the parties could also lead to a change in their platforms.
Whether the blue wave crashes on Election Day remains to be seen, but for Rose, much of the work will have to be done afterward.
“Just winning the election alone will not be enough,” he said. “They will have to show they are effective.”