Which Wards Saw the Biggest Voter Registration Gains in 2019?

The pre-primary 2019 voter registration numbers are in, and we now know that just over 13,000 people registered to vote in Philadelphia between January 1st and April 22nd. Which areas of the city saw the biggest gains?

Overall, there were 8,095 new Democratic registrations, 1,490 Republican ones, and 3,466 registrations that were unaffiliated or with a minor party.

Not all areas of the city saw the same voter registration gains, and some data we obtained from the City Commissioners' office helps shed some light on where those increases were concentrated, as well as some of the party shift trends. 

Consult this map for reference to see where the different wards are located. 

The top wards for total new voter registrations were:

Ward 5:   719 (Center City East, Callowhill, Northern Liberties)
Ward 8:   590 (Center City West)
Ward 21: 496 (Roxborough/Manayunk)
Ward 58: 440 (Far Northeast)
Ward 39: 401 (South Philly, east side)
Ward 40: 398 (Southwest)
Ward 56: 335 (Rhawnhurst)
Ward 36: 291 (Point Breeze)
Ward 66: 284 (Far Northeast)
Ward 35: 265 (Lawncrest)

Of more specific interest with the primary coming up in less than two weeks are the shifts in Democratic registrations, since only registered Democrats can vote in the primaries, and the lopsided Democratic registration edge means the Dem primary result is the de facto general election result. The top wards for new Democratic registrations were as follows:

Ward 5:   398 (Center City East, Callowhill, Northern Liberties)
Ward 8:   303 (Center City West)
Ward 40: 297 (Southwest)
Ward 21: 257 (Roxborough/Manayunk)
Ward 39: 206 (South Philly, east side)
Ward 36: 193 (Point Breeze)
Ward 34: 192 (Overbrook)
Ward 42: 180 (Olney/Feltonville)
Ward 56: 177 (Rhawnhurst)
Ward 35: 172 (Lawncrest)

These top wards for Democratic registration were mostly concentrated in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 9th Council Districts, two of which (the 2nd and 3rd) have competitive Council primaries. 

Another interesting area to keep an eye on is the trend of increasing unaffiliated registrations. Unaffiliated and minor party registrants have begun to outnumber registered Republicans in the city, but still can't vote in Democratic primaries, where most of the office holders will be decided. 

Which areas saw the greatest percentage of their new registrants filing as unaffiliated or minor party voters instead of as Democrats? These wards all had over 30% of their newly-registered voters register as unaffiliated or with a third party, who won't be eligible to vote in the most consequential elections for Mayor, City Council, row offices, and more on May 21st. 

Ward 29: 39% (Brewerytown/Sharswood)
Ward 7:   34% (Lower Northeast)
Ward 33: 34% (Lower Northeast)
Ward 15: 34% (Fairmount/Francisville)
Ward 21: 33% (Roxborough/Manayunk)
Ward 48: 32% (Point Breeze/West Passyunk)
Ward 2:   32% (Bella Vista, Queen Village, Passyunk)
Ward 5:   32% (Center City West, Callowhill, Northern Liberties)
Ward 66: 32% (Far Northeast) 
Ward 8:   31% (Center City West)
Ward 43: 31% (North Philly)
Ward 14: 31% (Poplar)
Ward 30: 31% (Graduate Hospital)

The trend toward unaffiliated registration is most pronounced among younger white voters under 35, as Neil Oxman told Philly Mag back in 2017 when independents first surpassed Republicans in registration. 

Democratic consultant Neil Oxman said that polling conducted on behalf of candidates he works for shows that “more and more” of the city’s independents lean Democratic. He said many also tend to be white, under 35 years old, and new to Philadelphia or Pennsylvania. Twenty or 30 years ago, he said, the city’s independents were much different: A plurality were white, pro-life Catholics who leaned Republican and lived in Northeast Philly.

This group leans Democratic but isn't monolithic in its political views, but could nonetheless have a big effect on Democratic primary elections if more of them began registering with the Democratic Party or if state law were changed to allow open primaries.

For more information, download the data to see newly registered voters and party changes for each ward.

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