Turning back years of regression, Democrats have outpaced Republicans in registering new voters this year in Pasco County.
Since January, 4,200 people have registered as Democrats, compared to 2,900 newly minted Pasco Republicans.
It goes against a Republican Party takeover of voter rolls over the past decade. But the war in Iraq, the economic downturn and high property insurance have swung momentum in new voter registrations, said Alison Morano, chairwoman of the Democratic Party in Pasco.
In another sign of progress, Morano said, Barack Obama's presidential campaign will open a west Pasco office soon, possibly near U.S. 19 and Grand Boulevard — a sign of investment local Democrats haven't seen for a while.
"People are upset with incumbents, and in Pasco, if you're talking about incumbents, you're talking about Republicans," Morano said.
But Democrats' gain has not offset Republican additions since Al Gore won Pasco over George W. Bush by a whisker in 2000.
In a historically bellwether county, Republicans have a 6,900-voter margin overall, an advantage of 1,000 voters more than they had at this stage four years ago.
This month, there are 111,800 registered Republicans to 104,900 Democrats.
Pasco GOP Chairman Bill Bunting expects more voters to be added to his side. County Republicans increased their margin during the final months of the 2004 race.
He even predicted presidential candidate John McCain will win Pasco with 59 percent, outpacing President Bush's 54 percent victory margin in 2004.
However, Bunting was concerned enough to urge party members to bring in new registrations and party-switching voters, noting in a GOP newsletter Monday the party trails Democrats.
Besides the local party's office with the McCain campaign near Bayonet Point, a Florida GOP office recently launched in New Port Richey. A central Pasco office will open off State Road 54. An east Pasco location is planned.
With a local storefront in each Pasco area code, Republicans make it easier to have area residents contact their own neighbors for votes and volunteers, said party treasurer Fred Manno, who will manage the central Pasco operation.
Morano won't go so far as to predict an Obama victory. But unlike past years, Democrats are opening multiple campaign offices in Pasco. The county party opened an office in the Longleaf area of Trinity. A group of Obama supporters opened a Dade City office that independently backs the presumptive Democratic nominee.
David DeCamp can be reached at [email protected] or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6232.