Statement: “In a Democratic city where Republicans are actually a third party behind independents, we outperformed Republican Party registration by 21 percent,” former mayoral candidate and Councilman Carl DeMaio wrote in a Nov. 16 op-ed in the Orange County Register.

Determination: True

Analysis: Former mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio got politicos across the state talking with his Nov. 16 op-ed in the Orange County Register.

He declared the state Republican Party in crisis and blamed the GOP’s “troubled state” for his loss to Mayor-elect Bob Filner.

And as our Scott Lewis wrote, DeMaio didn’t take personal responsibility for his party’s struggles. Indeed, he instead touted that he had “outperformed” Republican voter registration in the city by 21 percentage points.

He shared the same figure in an interview with U-T San Diego.

We decided to take a look at the numbers.

The latest tally from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters shows 220,547 voters supported DeMaio for mayor.

How does that compare to the number of registered Republicans in the city?

A report by the County Registrar reveals 183,876 Republicans are registered in the city of San Diego, which translates into about 27.1 percent of registered voters in the city.

DeMaio, therefore, managed to persuade at least 36,671 voters who aren’t registered Republican to cast their ballots for him.

They allowed DeMaio to pull in about 47.6 percent of the vote. (Filner, who came out the winner, took 52.4 percent of the vote.)

A political consultant who works for DeMaio’s campaign said the once-mayoral hopeful compared the total percentage of votes he received in the Nov. 6 election with the percentage of the electorate that’s registered Republican.

That left him to conclude his support exceeded Republican registration by about 21 percentage points, Stephen Puetz said.

Republicans make up 27.1 percent of registered voters in the city. DeMaio took 47.6 percent of votes cast in the mayor’s race. That means he outperformed GOP registration by 20.5 percentage points. Rounded up, the math adds up to DeMaio’s claim, so we’re giving him a “true” rating.

But we couldn’t resist the opportunity to further compare the Registrar’s latest voter registration data with the election results.

It’s worth mentioning that independents outnumber registered Republicans in the city. The difference is slight, with 186,737 voters declining to share their political affiliation.

Another 34,061 San Diegans registered their support for another political party.

Together, independents and third-party supporters make up about 33 percent of the city’s registered voters. For a more comprehensive look at voter registration across the county, check out this report.

Now let’s take a look at the Democrats.

They make up about 40 percent of registered voters in the city with more than 272,000 registered voters.

Still, Filner ended up with fewer votes than the number of registered Democrats on Election Day. The most updated election results show at least 29,588 of the city’s registered Democrats voted for DeMaio or didn’t vote in the mayor’s race. (Note: The Registrar is continuing to count ballots so this number could change.)

So why didn’t Filner win by a larger margin, especially given a presidential election that likely drew out more Democratic voters? And why have San Diegans repeatedly elected Republican mayors?

Political scientist Vlad Kogan, a San Diegan who recently began teaching at Ohio State University, weighed in on this issue back in July:

The fact that the mayor’s race is held on the same day as the presidential race should, all else held constant, help Filner. However, all else is not held constant. As I pointed out before, Democrats in San Diego have a huge ballot roll-off problem. In the closest local races in 2008, almost one in seven Obama voters did not even bother casting a ballot in the city races. This reflects the weakness of the local party in doing member communications and raising awareness of its candidates’ “brand name.”

Former Voice of San Diego reporter David Washburn also took on Democrats’ weaknesses in an insightful 2008 post.

Our Liam Dillon noted that the Democrats’ edge in voter registration was a primary concern for DeMaio during the general election, leading the conservative candidate to “scramble furiously to the middle.”

Unfortunately for DeMaio, that wasn’t enough.

If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post. Explain your reasoning.

Lisa Halverstadt is a reporter at Voice of San Diego. Know of something she should check out? You can contact her directly at or 619.325.0528.

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Disclosure: Voice of San Diego members and supporters may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover. For a complete list of our contributors, click here.

Lisa Halverstadt

Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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