Posted: Aug 15, 2011 8:21 AM by Lauren Wilson & AP
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - For the first time in modern history, Democrats no longer hold a majority of Louisiana's registered voters.
The Advocate reported that voter statistics show Democratic registration has dipped below 50 percent for the first time since 1957 - the earliest date that records cover.
The Secretary of State's Offices said that combination of Republican and other party registrations barely make up a majority of Louisiana's 2.8 million registered voters. As late as 1978, Democrats held 90 percent of the registrations. There has been a steady decline since.
Part of the decline came as Louisiana adopted an open primary election system in 1978 where all candidates, regardless of party, run on the same ballot and all voters participate, said G. Pearson Cross, head of the political science department ata the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Going into the fall elections, Democrats make up 1.4 million of the state's voters, or 49.8 percent, according to the Aug. 1 tallies by the secretary of state. Republicans total 756,319 voters, or 26.75 percent of the total number of registered voters, while other party registrants stand at 662,276, or 23.43 percent.
All but one official elected statewide is Republican and the GOP has a majority in both the Louisiana House and Senate for the first time since Reconstruction.
In the past four years, Democratic registration has declined by nearly 100,000 voters. Republican and other party registrations picked up nearly the same number of voters - split 60 percent Republican and 40 percent other party.
"We have been trending to be a more conservative state for especially the last six years," Louisiana Republican Party chairman Roger Villere said.
Registrations of other party voters have been growing around the country.
Democratic Party executive director Renee Lapeyrolerie said the party continues its voter registration efforts. She said a large number of other party voters still vote Democratic.
"I see the trend as people going to other party. I don't see it as leaving us and going to the Republican Party," Lapeyrolerie said. "It's people taking a stand on their independence. They are going to look at the candidates' records."