Spurred By The Capitol Riot, Thousands Of Republicans Drop Out Of GOP
Category: News & PoliticsVia: larry-hampton • 4 weeks ago • 117 comments
Lyle Darrah was on a conference call at work in rural Weld County, north of Denver, when the riot at the U.S. Capitol started on Jan. 6. When his boss mentioned what was happening, he turned on news coverage — and immediately felt his last allegiance to the Republican Party slipping away.
"I was completely shocked and ashamed. That's not how I think of the Republicans — who we were, and who we are," he said. "It's something I felt I could no longer be in support of."
That night, he talked with his wife over dinner at their home. Darrah had been a lifelong Republican, while his spouse and children are Democrats — the kind of family that joked about canceling out each other's votes.
Later, Darrah, age 49, sat in his living room and pulled up the state's voter registration website . And then, like thousands of other Coloradans in the wake of the insurrection, he left the Republican Party.
"I think it should be a signal," said Darrah, a software company director who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020.
His strongest political priorities are fiscal restraint and national defense, he said.
"I don't know if there's anything to be said about being party loyal your entire life, if your party doesn't go in the direction you want it to," Darrah added.
But in this moment of upheaval, his story is just one of many reasons that voters have abandoned the GOP in Colorado, a once-competitive state that swung strongly left in the Trump era.
4,600 fewer Republicans after the riot
In the week from Jan. 6 through Jan. 12, about 4,600 Republicans changed their party status in Colorado, according to a CPR News analysis. There was no comparable effect with any other party. CPR News was able to contact dozens of them by tracking changes in the state's voter file.
The number of people changing parties spiked immediately after the Capitol breach. The same phenomenon is playing out nationwide. News outlets documented about 6,000 defections from the party in North Carolina , 10,000 in Pennsylvania and 5,000 in Arizona .
In Colorado, only a small fraction of the defectors made the same dramatic leap as Darrah did in choosing to join the Democratic Party. Some went to conservative third parties. But the vast majority — about 4,200 people — switched from Republican to unaffiliated status, accelerating a trend that has affected both parties in Colorado in recent years.