CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The red wave that has swept West Virginia over the past decade now includes historic gains in Republican voter registration numbers, according to figures released Thursday.
There are now about 448,900 registered Republicans, or 36.8% of all registered voters in West Virginia, according to figures released by the secretary of state’s office. That compares to about 444,600 registered Democrats, or 36.5%.
“It’s an exciting day for the West Virginia Republican Party!” Roman Stauffer, the state Republican Party’s acting chairman, said in a statement.
An additional 275,000 registered voters, or 22.6%, had no party affiliation. The rest were affiliated with minor political parties.
According to the GOP, 11 counties switched from Democrat to Republican pluralities in 2020, and 24 of the 55 counties are now Republican majority or plurality. Berkeley County saw an increase of 3,694 Republican voters, the most in the state, the statement said.
In November, Shelley Moore Capito became the first Republican from West Virginia reelected to the U.S. Senate since 1907. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who won his third term in November, is the first Republican attorney general to hold the position since 1933.
Democratic voter registration numbers in West Virginia have been dropping over the past decade, buoyed by criticism of former two-term President Barack Obama’s energy policies in coal-rich West Virginia. In 2014, registered Democrats in West Virginia fell below 50% for the first time since 1932.
Republicans made major gains when Capito won the 2014 Senate race and helped other candidates capture all the state’s U.S. House seats for the first time since 1921. After the 2014 election, the GOP took control of the state Senate and House of Delegates from Democrats for the first time in more than eight decades.
Donald Trump won 68% of the state vote in the presidential race in 2016 and about 69% of the vote in November. A Democratic presidential candidate has not carried West Virginia since Bill Clinton in 1996.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin is the only Democrat to currently hold statewide office.