The political universe in Wilton shifted Monday afternoon. Registered Democrats now outnumber registered Republican voters, as confirmed by the registrar of voters office. As of Monday afternoon, out of the 12,409 total registered voters, there are 3,800 Democrats and 3,796 Republicans on the town rolls.
The largest group of registered voters in Wilton is still those unaffiliated with any party, at 4,686; voters registered with other minor parties number 127.
That’s a significant shift, considering that 20 years ago, according to state records, Republicans outnumbered Democrats in Wilton by more than 2-to-1.
UPDATE (10 a.m.): An earlier version of the article contained voter totals for 2000, 2009 and 2019 that included both active and inactive registered voters in the tallies, as shown on the Secretary of State’s website. The numbers provided by Wilton registrars of voters for Jan. 6, 2020 include only the active voter counts. We’ve adjusted the numbers in the table to reflect only active voters to better show the comparison and changes.
Year Republican Democrat Unaffiliated Total Registered Voters* R-D Difference 2000 4,950 (44.6%) 2,388 (21.5%) 3,745 (33.8%) 11,093 2,562 2009 4,159 (37%) 3,039 (27%) 4,036 (35.9%) 11,249 1,120 Nov. 5, 2019** 3,806 (30.9%) 3,734 (30.3%) 4,660 (37.8%) 12,322 72 Jan. 6, 2020 3796 (30.6%) 3,800 (30.6%) 4,686 (37.8%) 12,409 -4
*“Total Voters” also includes voters registered with other parties.
**Election Day 2019
The shifting trend is something that Democrats in town have been watching very closely over the last several weeks. On New Years Day, the Wilton Democratic Town Committee sent an email to supporters about the expected statistical shift, writing, “This is due not only to people standing up for Democratic values, but is also a result of the visible engagement and energy of Democrats in Wilton.”
While DTC chair Tom Dubin wasn’t ready to make an official comment on the record, Democrats are clearly pleased with the numbers. Democratic selectwoman Deborah McFadden announced the news to her fellow Board of Selectmen members following last night’s BOS meeting.
UPDATE (8:25 a.m.): Dubin sent the following statement to GOOD Morning Wilton:
“To all the new Democrats in town I would first like to say welcome to the party! We are genuinely thrilled to have you join us and excited about more Wiltonians coming on board to make our town the best it can be. Thirteen years ago Republicans counted 1,700 more registered voters than Democrats, and over 2,500 as recently as the year 2000. As of today Wilton Democrats have surpassed Republicans and now represent the largest group of affiliated voters.
“This has been a steady, long-term development as local voters determined that the Democratic party more closely aligns with the issues that matter most to them. Aversion to Donald Trump is only one factor in this party realignment, as the large majority of this registrations shift occurred before he took office. We recognize that Democrats in Wilton come in many different flavors, and we value the strength of a big tent.
“Wilton’s DTC thanks those Democrats who kept our party active even when we were a small minority in town, and thanks the many Democrats who have stepped up in recent years to make a difference for our party and our town. With today’s milestone, Wilton Democrats will continue to support fiscally responsible candidates who reflect our party’s values locally, statewide, and nationally. We are proud of the work we have accomplished and the future vision we bring.”
Her fellow BOS member, Josh Cole is vice-chair of the Republican Town Committee (Bill Lalor stepped down as chair of the RTC at the end of 2019).
“We’ve seen the trends in town and we’re aware the town demographics have changed. We’re motivated to get our message out and support candidates that we feel are qualified and will work hard for the town,” Cole said, acknowledging, “We have our work cut out for us and we don’t take anything for granted.”
He did note that there could be a variety of reasons behind the trend: “It could be a function of people wanting to vote in the primary because they’re not happy with choices on either side of the national tickets. So I think we take a wait-and-see approach and see where we are in 90 days, and know we’re going to work hard to get out our message.”
That point is important to note. Some of the shift may be due to voters hoping to cast a ballot in the upcoming CT presidential primary on Tuesday, April 28, 2020. [Editor’s note: candidates on the primary ballots will be announced by the Secretary of State’s office on Feb. 14, 2020.] Increasing polarization in national politics has undoubtedly played a role in the trend as well. It’s important to note that it’s not just a decrease in Wilton Republicans or an increase in Wilton Dems–the number of unaffiliated voters from any party increased as well.
Wilton registrar Karen Birck said she couldn’t point to one specific thing as the reason why numbers are the way they are. “It’s a combination of Republicans coming off, Democrats going on, unaffiliateds switching to affiliated. It may have been taking off a Republican family because that was one of the last things I did.”
Local Political Party Involvement
Both local major parties are beginning to gear up for the 2020 political process. They are each scheduled to elect members this month.
The RTC will choose its 2020-2022 membership tonight at its caucus. Any registered Republican voter can participate, and vote on a ballot that has the names of individuals who have stepped forward to be considered for one of the 40 membership seats on the RTC. The Republican caucus is being held in the Town Hall Annex Building (238 Danbury Rd.) meeting room at 7:30 p.m. tonight, Tuesday, Jan. 7. (Cole added that anyone is able to attend, but only registered Republicans can vote at the caucus.)
The DTC’s caucus is one week later on Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 7:45 p.m. at Comstock Community Center (180 School Rd.). The caucus will begin following the DTC’s regular monthly meeting at 7 p.m.. All registered Wilton Democrats are able to attend and vote to endorse members for the 2020-2022 term.