New numbers on Arizona's voter registration totals are good news for the state's Republican Party, but better news for the Democratic Party.
Spoiler alert: The numbers don't confirm recent polling showing Arizona's a toss up between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. But in raw registration numbers, notably in Maricopa County -- the state's largest -- Democrats are making gains that haven't been seen in many years.
The big picture: The secretary of state's voter registration totals released Monday, ahead of the primary election in eight days on August 30, show that for the first time in almost three years, Republicans regained the top spot in registrations from independent voters. GOP voters make up 34.8 percent of registered voters; independents, 34.2 percent; and Democrats, 30 percent.
One statistical caveat to keep in mind in any voter registration story: Republican voters historically turn out to vote in numbers larger than their share of registrations, Democrats about the same or less, and independents less.
The bigger picture: In percentage terms and raw numbers, Democratic Party registration is growing faster than GOP registration in Arizona. Here are the numbers since the March 2016 presidential primaries:
GOP: 1,185,023 registered voters, 53,000 new voters, up 4.6 percent
IND: 1,164,373 registered, 19,000 fewer voters, down 1.6 percent.
DEM: 1,019,050 registered, 66,000 new voters, up 7 percent.
The same trend holds when the numbers are compared to the 2012 general election: Dems are ahead of the GOP, with 2,000 more new registrations. Positive news, but holding serve isn't a way to win elections.
Movement in Maricopa County: If Arizona ever turns blue or purple, the dye job will have started in the state's largest county.
A deeper dive on registration since the 2012 presidential election shows Maricopa County is where Democrats are making their gains: a 13 percent registration increase (66,000 new voters) since 2012 vs. 7.6 percent for Republicans (53,000 new voters).
(Yes, I noticed that the county-level raw gains since 2012 are exactly the same as the statewide gains since March 2016. I checked the math.)
Republicans had a 10-point registration advantage over Dems in Maricopa County in 2012, now it's down to 8 points, even as the GOP regains the lead in statewide and county registrations.
What's going on? The numbers point to a big bump for both parties out of Arizona's March presidential primaries. Also, Latino voter registration groups have been active here for several cycles, with a major push going on right now for the November presidential election.
Do numbers tell the story? Here's what might be misleading about the Latino registration effort: It doesn't necessarily show up in new Democratic voters, according to organizers.
During the big registration pushes of the last several years, independents' registrations climbed, while Democrats' sagged. The explanation from Latino organizers: Their groups are non-partisan, and many voters sign up as independents.
If that's the case, Maricopa County could turn blue sooner than the registration numbers do.