Tens of thousands of Republicans flee the party after Capitol riot


Republican voters across the country are switching their party registration to independent in the wake of the terror attack on the Capitol.

Since the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, states across the country have seen a growing trend of Republican voters changing their party registration, with the number of Republican voters disaffiliating from the party climbing into the tens of thousands.

"It does seem like something is happening, perhaps in response to the attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol," Michael McDonald, an elections expert and professor at the University of Florida, tweeted of the trend of voter registration changes since Jan. 6.

The biggest surge of voters leaving the Republican Party was in Arizona, where nearly 10,000 GOP voters disaffiliated, according to former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

It's a concerning trend for Republicans in a state that is already trending Democratic, with President Joe Biden becoming the first Democrat to carry the state at the presidential level since 1996, and with both of the state's Senate seats now held by Democrats.

"As of today, 9,944 Arizona Republicans have changed their party registration since the assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. Please, fellow Republicans, we cannot continue to excuse former President Trump's behavior and promote falsehoods about the election," Flake, who endorsed Biden over Donald Trump in 2020 despite being a conservative Republican, tweeted.

It's not just Arizona seeing an exodus of Republican voters.

In North Carolina, more than 6,000 Republicans changed their registration to independent, according to the Charlotte News & Observer.

Kimrey Rhinehardt, a longtime North Carolina Republican and former Capitol Hill staffer, is one of those GOP voters who changed their registration.

"I didn’t leave the party," Rhinehardt told the News & Observer. "The party left me. My belief system and my values remain unchanged."

In Colorado, roughly 4,600 Republicans changed their registration, according to a local NBC television station.

And Maryland has seen 2,300 Republican voters leave the party, the Baltimore Sun reported.

It's unclear whether this trend will continue in the coming weeks and months.

But polls show just how precarious of a position Republicans find themselves in, with some defending Trump's behavior in the wake of the insurrection even though a majority of the country believes Trump shoulders at least some of the blame and should be punished.

A Monmouth University poll released Monday found 56% of Americans approve of Trump's impeachment. The poll also found that 52% of Americans believe he should be convicted, and 57% said Trump should be barred from ever holding federal office again.

However, Republican voters still support Trump, with 85% of Republicans saying they don't believe Trump should be convicted.

It leaves Republicans walking a tightrope of trying not to alienate a majority of the country, while not alienating their own base.

Democrats, however, are not going to let Republicans get off easy.

"There are no consequences in the Republican caucus for violence. There's no consequences for racism. No consequences for misogyny. No consequences for insurrection. And no consequences means that they condone it," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said Wednesday night of Republicans' refusal to punish Trump and other GOP lawmakers who helped incite the insurrection.

"It means that that silence is acceptance, and they want it because they know that it is a core animating political energy for them," Ocasio-Cortez added.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.