Democratic Registration Continues to Surge
by Jonathan Singer, Mon Apr 28, 2008 at 09:45:23 AM EDT
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.