Election indicators: voter registration
It’s not a poll, but it certainly is an indicator:
Across Florida on Wednesday, President Obama’s campaign scheduled 53 field events to register voters. Last weekend in Virginia, there were at least 78 such events — typical of drills in the past several months on behalf of the incumbent Democrat in the battleground states that are likely to decide the Nov. 6 election.
But a Globe analysis of voter registration data in swing states reveals scant evidence that the massive undertaking is yielding much fresh support for Obama.
In stark contrast to 2008, when a strong partisan tailwind propelled Democratic voter registration to record levels, this year Republican and independent gains are far outpacing those of Democrats.
In Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Colorado, and Nevada — tossup states where direct election-year comparisons could be drawn — the numbers are striking. Democratic rolls increased by only 39,580, less than one-tenth the amount at the comparable point in the 2008 election.
At the same time, GOP registration has jumped by 145,085, or more than double for the same time four years ago. Independent registration has shown an even stronger surge, to 229,500, almost three times the number at this point in 2008.
Whistling past the graveyard:
“The fact is, there are currently many more Democrats registered in battleground states now than there were before the 2008 primary campaign began, which means there are fewer eligible voters left to register because of the gains we made in 2008,” campaign spokesman Adam Fetcher said in an e-mail.
“We have largely preserved the huge gains we built in 2007 and 2008 and increased our advantage in some areas, while Republicans have failed to make significant gains despite having the primary to themselves this year,” he said.
Support for “whistling past the graveyard”:
Jan Leighley, an American University professor of political science with a specialty in voter turnout, sees merit in the Obama camp’s explanation. “To say ‘We did a lot in 2008 and we’re not going to repeat those numbers in terms of a percentage increase’ is a legitimate point,” said Leighley. “Registration is not the endgame; the endgame for the campaign is to get people to the polls,” she said.
Reality? It’s about enthusiasm. It’s about motivation. Clearly voter registration enthusiasm (which will likely produce actual voters) is up on the side of Republican efforts.
Secondly, it seems the Democrats are prepared to totally ignore what happened in 2010. Guess who made “significant gains” then? Claiming that 2008 gains have been “preserved” is just that, a claim. It certainly didn’t prove itself true during the midterms did it?
Add to that the huge crowds turning out to see Romney and Ryan and the large number of Democratic politicians who’ve decided to skip the Democratic convention and you begin to see a picture that the left is desperately trying to paper over.