During a Feb. 3 event for Bernie Sanders in Colorado Springs, field director Josh Phillips told supporters the campaign had convinced 3,000 non-Democratic voters to change their registration and become Democrats before a Jan. 4 deadline so they could caucus for Sanders on March 1.
If true, that’s a majority of voters who made the switch— at least from being unaffiliated— across Colorado in the three months leading up to the deadline.
Between Oct. 1 and Jan. 4, a total of 4,402 unaffiliated voters switched over to the Democratic Party. That’s 769 more than switched from unaffiliated to the Republican side. More registered Democrats actually switched parties to become Republicans in Colorado between those dates than the other way around.
Here’s the breakdown of party affiliation changes from Oct. 1 to the Jan. 4 deadline, according to figures The Colorado Independent obtained from the Secretary of State’s office:
- 4,402 unaffiliated voters became Democrats
- 3,633 unaffiliated voters became Republicans
- 1,707 Democrats became Republicans
- 1,357 Republicans became Democrats
- 5,915 voters changed to the Democratic Party from either another party or being unaffiliated
- 5,581 voters changed to Republican from either another party or being unaffiliated
Vermont’s Sanders is the longest serving Independent U.S. senator, but is campaigning as a Democrat for president.
In December, a Sanders Western Slope organizer, Michael Gibson, told us, “A lot of the Bernie Sanders fans are independents who have registered with the Democratic Party for the first time,” and that Sanders had “a huge following among independents.”
Gibson said there was a big push in Colorado to persuade those feeling the Bern to become Democrats so they could be part of the early process, or at least make these voters aware of that Jan. 4 deadline to do so. He said he worried at the time if voters didn’t know they’d feel disenfranchised come the March 1 caucus day.
Dulce Saenz, state director for the Bernie Sanders campaign in Colorado, says a lot of the credit for pushing the party-switching news to non-Democratic voters before the Jan. 4 deadline should go to volunteer grassroots organizers across the state.
Photo credit: tracyshaun, Creative Commons, Flickr