More than 2,300 registered Republicans in Maryland changed their political affiliation in the week after a group of rioters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol in support of Republican President Donald Trump.
That figure, released by the Maryland State Board of Elections, eclipses the decrease any other political party saw in that same week. The Democratic Party lost 862 registrants during that span, while 556 unaffiliated voters opted for a new party registration.
It’s not known whether the Republicans jumped ship as a result of the riots, which left one Capitol police officer dead along four other people. But the dip in Maryland’s Republican Party registration mirrors anecdotal reports in other parts of the country showing Republicans dominating party switches in the wake of the Capitol insurrection.
Party changes before and after a contentious presidential election like November’s are not uncommon. Nearly 5,000 people across the state made some change to their affiliation in December. But as months pass and an election fades from view, the number of party changes tend to drop. Maryland’s next significant election will not be until 2022 when residents choose a new governor.
Democrats far outnumber Republicans in Maryland, and last week’s changes do little to alter that dynamic. As of Jan. 14 nearly 2.3 million Marylanders were registered Democrats compared to roughly 1 million Republicans. In the week after the Capitol riot, unaffiliated voters grew by 1,980, while 178 people joined the Libertarian Party, a potentially attractive alternative for former Republicans.
The Democratic Party grew by 926 members — 64 more than it lost — while the Republican Party gained 508 members, netting an 1,820-member loss.
Maryland Democratic Party Chair Yvette Lewis said the Republican Party is “no longer the party of Reagan and Lincoln.”
“I’m glad those who joined the Republican Party believing in a strong America and a robust economy realize these values are long gone,” she said. “It’s heartening that many former Republicans see the path their party has taken, and want no part in it. The Democratic Party is proud to have a big tent. We welcome any and all Marylanders who believe it’s time to build our nation back better and stand up for democracy.”
Maryland Republican Party Chair Dirk Haire did not respond to a request for comment.