(BOSTON HERALD) — Nearly 20,000 Bay State Democrats have fled the party this winter, with thousands doing so to join the Republican ranks, according to the state’s top elections official.

Secretary of State William Galvin said more than 16,300 Democrats have shed their party affiliation and become independent voters since Jan. 1, while nearly 3,500 more shifted to the MassGOP ahead of tomorrow’s “Super Tuesday” presidential primary.

Galvin called both “significant” changes that dwarf similar shifts ahead of other primary votes, including in 2000, when some Democrats flocked from the party in order to cast a vote for Sen. John McCain in the GOP primary.

The primary reason? Galvin said his “guess” is simple: “The Trump phenomenon,” a reference to GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, who polls show enjoying a massive lead over rivals Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and others among Massachusetts Republican voters.

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