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GOP closing gap on voter registration

BY ADAM BEAMAssociated Press

FRANKFORT - Democrats maintain a comfortable lead in registered voters in Kentucky, but Republicans are closing the gap.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced Thursday that Republicans registered an additional 44,852 voters since the 2012 general election while Democrats added an extra 6,811 voters.

Democrats still outnumber Republicans in Kentucky by more than 476,000 voters. But since November 2008 - when Democratic President Barack Obama was first elected - the Republican Party of Kentucky has added 142,312 voters while the Kentucky Democratic Party has added 10,571.

Registered Democrats now make up 53 percent of all voters, down from 57 percent in 2008. Republicans account for 38 percent of all voters, up from 36 percent in 2008.

"Kentucky is about to do what we've been saying it's going to do: it's officially going to become a red state," said Steve Robertson, chairman of the Kentucky Republican Party. He said many people are frustrated with the president's policies. "I think these numbers certainly support the theory."

Kentucky is one of the most divided states, politically, in the country. Democrats control the House of Representatives and four of the five constitutional offices, including the governor and attorney general. Republicans control the state Senate, five of the six congressional seats and both U.S. Senate seats. And the state has voted for the Republican candidate in the last four presidential elections.

"There is no doubt that the president is not popular in Kentucky. That is a fact," Kentucky Democratic Party chairman Dan Logsdon said. "That's why we have to focus on issues instead of personalities, and that's what we do. People support the governor's efforts to bring affordable health care. They support the effort to raise the minimum wage. They believe women ought to be paid as much as men for the same job. Those are the issues that resonate with folks."

But the fastest growing group of voters is not Republican or Democrat. Since November 2012, the number of "other" voters - which includes independents and third party voters - has increased by 16,530 voters, or 7.5 percent.

Altogether, a record 3.1 million Kentuckians are registered to vote for the May 20 primary elections. The number beats the previous record of just over 3 million registered voters for the 2012 general elections. Women make up 53 percent of all voters.

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