Democratic Registration Continues to Surge

There are some reported downsides to the ongoing race for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination -- the fact that many voters say they are simply tiring of the process, as are some in the individual campaigns; the possibility that a bruising primary battle will weaken both Democratic candidates, potentially inhibiting the party's ability to win in the general election. But leaving aside the speculation as to what may be the case, hard numbers show that there is a real upside to the ongoing primary battle as well.

The past seven states to hold primaries registered more than 1 million new Democratic voters; Republican numbers mainly ebbed or stagnated. North Carolina and Indiana, which will hold their presidential primaries on May 6, are reporting a swell of new Democrats that triples the surge in registrations before the 2004 primary.

That's rather remarkable. One million new Democratic voters and no new Republican voters in the past seven states -- states that include Pennsylvania and Ohio, which are key to either party winning the White House in November. As The Washington Post's Eli Saslow, who did the reporting in the quoted article, notes, this trend is continuing in the upcoming states of Indiana and North Carolina as well. (You can read more about the swell in Democratic registration in the Tarheel state in this MyDD post from earlier in the month).

The trend also continues in Oregon, a state I know quite a bit about from having lived there most of my life. As of March (.pdf), the state had 803,042 registered Democrats and 685,469 registered Republicans, a Democratic advantage of 117,573 voters. This is the largest Democratic advantage in voter registration in the eight years for which the state has posted registration numbers, and very possibly the Democrats' largest lead in the state in recent memory.

Update [2008-4-28 14:17:3 by Jonathan Singer]: I didn't see it, but apparently on Saturday The Oregonian ran down the registration numbers in the state as well. As of Friday (and the numbers apparently aren't yet up on the Secretary of State's website, accounting for me missing the April numbers), there were 826,984 registered Democrats in the state and 685,344 registered Republicans, a 141,640-voter advantage. Not only does this represent the Democrats' greatest lead in recent memory (and perhaps ever), I'm fairly certain that this is the most Democrats ever registered in the state, which is of course a great sign. And for whatever it's worth, The Oregonian also reports: "According to local elections officials, the Obama campaign appears to have been more active in registering voters than the Clinton campaign."

At the time of the last statewide election, in November 2007 (.pdf), the Democratic registration advantage was 753,212 to 684,285, or just 68,927 voters. The numbers in November 2006 (.pdf) were similar, with the Democrats holding a 62,351-voter edge (763,301 to 700,950), as were the numbers from November 2004 (.pdf), when the Democrats posted a 62,758-voter edge (820,602 to 757,844), and in November 2002 (.pdf), when the Democrats had a 45,537-voter advantage (726,187 to 680,650). At the corresponding point in the 2004 campaign (.pdf), the Democrats' lead in voter registration in the state was just 52,680 voters (734,199 to 681,519). So not only is the Democrats' voter registration lead over the Republicans in Oregon nearly twice what it was in Novembers 2006 and 2004, it is 135 169 percent larger than it was back in April 2004. ([editor's note, by Jonathan Singer] Numbers and percentages on this last tally shifted to reflect the latest numbers out of the state.)

What's more, not only is the entire state becoming relatively more Democratic than Republican, key corners of the state are as well. Clackamas County, in the eastern suburbs of Portland, has long been a Republican holdout, with the GOP maintaining a small, though consistent voter registration edge. However, for the first time in at least eight years (and likely much longer than that), Democrats now outnumber Republicans in this key swing county. The same goes for Washington County, heavily populated county on the western side of Portland which has consistently had more Republicans than Democrats registered but now, for the first time in recent memory, has more Democrats than Republicans. In other words, the Democrats' edge is not limited to Multnomah County, the most populated in the state which largely encompasses the city of Portland, but is spreading around too, a fact that augurs very well for Democrats' hopes of growing their slim (31 to 29) and new (first since 1990) majority in the state House of Representatives this fall.

So while there are compelling reasons why a lot of folks would like to see this race over sooner rather than later, there remain some very compelling reasons as to why it's not such a bad thing that the contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton continues.

Tags: Democratic Party, Democratic primaries, Oregon, Oregon Primary, voter registration (all tags)

Comments

11 Comments

Re: Democratic Registration Continues to Surge

Oooh-rah! Let's rock this vote!

by ragekage 2008-04-28 10:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Registration Continues to Surge
This kind of stuff changes countries, wins wars.
Lets hear an army hoo-ah!
by Trey Rentz 2008-04-28 10:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Registration Continues to Surge

That's why I want the primaries to continue. At every new primary contest, thousands and thousands of people register as Democrats. Many switching from Republican to Democrat.

by Zzyzzy 2008-04-28 10:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Registration Continues to Surge

It's a good point, Jonathan.

I guess I'm still ready to see it end after NC/IN.  They're the last of the medium-to-big states, and if  the supers were to, by some miracle, settle this thing en masse on May 8, most of the positive effect on registration in every state except maybe SD and MT would have already happened, and we'd know who the new Dem primary voters were in every state but OR, KY, WV, MT, and SD.

by RT 2008-04-28 10:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Registration Continues to Surge

I'm pretty sure it will be over by Indian/ NC too but hey . Jon's point is well taken. What we think of as a long drawn out battle is in fact taking the states whose voice really never counted in front-loaded primaries and is now letting their voice be heard for the first time in a long time.

And that means more involvement. And that means scrutiny, and thought about the candidates.

Obama and McCain in the general election will be a great contest. I honestly think this will be
a great debate, maybe even epic.

Clinton should respond to McCain's statement today about healthcare, she can own the issue.
It will help her for the VP debates.

by Trey Rentz 2008-04-28 10:59AM | 0 recs
Why only Oregon

Why are you so focussed on Oregon?  There are reports of skyrocketing voter registration in West Virginia and in Kentucky too.

by DaveOinSF 2008-04-28 10:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Why only Oregon

Actually, the voter registration surge is pretty much everywhere with a contested Democratic primary. Oregon provides useful data to ponder, but the reality is that this rare occurance of great candidates and no incumbants running for Prez has mobilized people to participate unlike any time in recent history.

by nathanhj 2008-04-28 11:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Registration Continues to Surge

Sounds like a good thing to me! There is nothing like a photo finish to get people's attention.

So, those that keep talking about Clinton bowing out are hurting the party, because that would slow the registration gains. Please, stop doing that. Let the race continue.

by splashy 2008-04-28 11:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Registration Continues to Surge

It's good to see some benefits to the drawn-out primaries.  My parents retired to Southern Oregon recently and it sounds like there are a lot of Californians retiring there as well, which may be helping out the numbers (assuming they're Dems).  I'd love to see the Congressional delegation go completely blue some year!

by Mr DC 2008-04-28 11:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Registration Continues to Surge

Two things to note:

(1) Voting is a two-step process. Registration first, actual voting second. Meaning that registrations are just registrations until people go to the polls.

(2) Registration surges have to carry over to November for the new voters to have final impact. There's little correlation between primary excitment and general turnout.

Which means: registration must continue through to the fall to capture people with late interest and to take care of everyone who moves AND that there must be smart, strategic, and to-scale programs in place to mobilize the voters to the polls, especially from low-propensity populations. You need both a fantastic registration prgoram and a good GOTV program and they need to be linked together.

by nathanhj 2008-04-28 11:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic Registration Continues to Surge

Obama has instituted a six month drive to register new voters for November. He has also mobilized an army of grassroots supporters to do so in each primary election. That can only be good for the nominee and down ticket races.

Here is the rub, should Clinton steal the nomination by backroom deals she would benefit from his hard work.

Sounds fair

Go Girl

by telfish 2008-04-28 12:32PM | 0 recs

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