Dems hold 9,000-voter enrollment edge in Orange

Registered Democrats outnumbered Republicans by about 9,000 voters in Orange County at the end of March, a tiny increase in the enrollment edge held by a party that used to be so deep in the minority that Republicans commanded a 17,000-voter advantage as recently as 20 years ago.

That lead gradually diminished, and Democrats first inched into the majority in 2009. As of March 31, the count stood at 79,948 Democrats and 71,100 Republicans.

Party leaders and elected officials are now preparing for the next round of county elections this fall: contests for four-year terms for county executive, district attorney and county clerk, and for four-year terms for all 21 Legislature seats. Interviewed this week about the county executive’s race, Orange County Democratic Chairman Brett Broge cited a few factors that diminish the significance of the Democrats’ enrollment edge in county races, including other parties in which voters are registered. One is the Conservative Party ranks, which effectively can be added to the Republican column. Others are the numbers of Independence Party and unaffiliated voters, which he argued are often conservative-leaning voters.

The county had 4,237 Conservative voters and 11,701 Independence voters at the end of March. It also had 1,095 Working Families voters and 647 Green Party members, generally an asset for Democratic candidates. A huge variable, though, is the block of unaffiliated voters, or “blanks”: 49,318 voters.

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