More than twice as many Californians registered this year than in the same four-month period in 2012, according to Political Data Inc., a Los Angeles County firm that tracks state voter trends. The new voters are trending young and Democratic -- two groups more inspired by Bernie Sanders than Donald Trump.
"There is no precedent for this in California since 1980 in terms of the overall surge in voter registration," said Paul Mitchell, the firm's vice president. "The motivation to register is as much to vote against somebody as it is to vote for somebody."
From January to April, more than 850,000 Californians joined voter rolls, while another 600,000 re-registered, most likely because they had moved or switched parties, according to figures collected by Mitchell. Then, in a development that dropped jaws among political professionals, nearly 200,000 more Californians registered through Facebook last Monday and Tuesday, when the company stuck a voter registration button on newsfeeds, linking to the state's online registration system.
Mitchell said Trump deserved much of the credit for the rash of new voters, although not in the way Republicans would have hoped. Registration often spiked on nights that Trump prevailed at the ballot box in state primaries, but most of those new voters registered as Democrats.
"Whenever the conversation was loudest, you see big spikes in Democratic registration, which is counterintuitive to what you've seen nationally," he said.
Just under half of the new voters who registered through April joined the Democratic Party, which now has 44 percent of the California electorate.
One third of the new voters chose no political party, and only 16.7 percent registered Republican -- far less than the GOP's current 27 percent share of California voters. Nearly two-thirds of the new voters were under 35, and 29 percent were Latino.
That's a boost for Latinos who currently account for 24 percent of the electorate and 38 percent of state residents, but it won't do much to increase their overall voting power, Mitchell said.