Barack Obama is running the best-organized campaign that Democrats have seen for many, many years. One of the key indicators is the number of new voters registered.
Remember how close Florida was in 2000 (the infamous “hanging chad” election)? Sometimes, registering just a few thousand more voters can make a big difference in the electoral college totals.
Obama’s team doesn’t just craft impressive speeches. They also work hard on the elements of a campaign where there is no glory. The stuff that doesn’t make for great footage on CNN: so, no matter how important it actually is, the public pays no attention to it.
Talking Points Memo has an informative post on voter registration in seven battleground states. For greater convenience, I’m going to summarize the key data points in a table. Here’s how TPM introduces the data:
In a development that could have a significant impact on the presidential race, the rise in registered Democrats has far outpaced Republican registration in many key swing states, giving Dems a clear registration advantage in a lot of them, while wiping away one-time GOP registration advantages in a couple others. …
Of the dozen or so most closely contested states in this election, seven of the secretaries’ offices keep tallies of their registration numbers, broken down by party.
Here’s the data from those seven states:
|party||increase in registration||who has more registered voters|
|Nevada||Republicans||55,563||Democrats by 76,053|
|Florida||Republicans||392||Democrats by 498,124|
|Pennsylvania||Republicans||decrease of 205,441||Democrats by 1,136,387|
|North Carolina||Republicans||48,894||Democrats by 762,643|
|Colorado||Republicans||decrease of 89,535||Republicans by 73,634|
|New Mexico||Republicans||20,587||Democrats by 202,590|
|New Hampshire||Republicans||1,338||Republicans by 4,891|
The upshot: Of those seven states, four have seen big spikes in Dem registration while GOP registration has gone up by significantly less or has dropped.
In a fifth state, the number of Dems has gone up by a modest amount while the number of Republicans has fallen sharply. Dems now lead in registration numbers in all five of those states, in some by significant margins.
Meanwhile, in the sixth and seventh states, Dem gains and GOP losses have effectively erased the GOP’s once sizable registration edge.
We can’t attribute all of these gains to Obama’s masterful ground organization. Remember that there was a tremendous amount of interest in the Democratic primaries, and a lot of voters registered in order to vote for Hillary Clinton. This is one of the benefits accruing to Obama from the long, dramatic Democratic primary. (I assume that most of the Clinton supporters will vote for Obama.)
Moreover, voters are very disappointed in the Republican party right now, so you wouldn’t expect to see a lot of voters newly registered as Republicans.
But, as I explained in a recent post, it is also true that Obama has placed a lot of emphasis on out-organizing the Republicans. So a lot of the credit goes to him and his highly-skilled, professional team. And all those volunteers working without receiving any time in the limelight.
In a very close election, the number of newly registered voters could provide the decisive margin between victory and defeat. Whether campaigns pay attention to this stuff is a measure of their professionalism.