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Ear to the Ground

Democrats, Especially, Struggle to Register New Voters

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Posted on Oct 3, 2012
Photo by Adam Campbell (CC-BY-ND)

A Guardian survey of six swing states finds new voter registration markedly down from 2008 levels, particularly among Democrats. A lack of enthusiasm could be to blame, as could the nationwide effort by Republican-controlled state legislatures to make it more difficult to vote.

Both Democrats and Republicans are failing to match their 2008 numbers, The Guardian reports, but the slide is more obvious on the Democratic side.

New laws, such as those requiring formal identification in order to vote, and the controversy and lawsuits surrounding them, may foster the impression that voting is difficult, which could in turn discourage new voters from participating in the process.

Democrats also face disproportionate roll purges in some states—and then there’s the enthusiasm gap. Neither party’s candidate has generated the same level of excitement as could be detected (in registrations if nowhere else) in 2008.

The Guardian:

The biggest decline among registered voters within the surveyed swing states was in Florida. Between January and July this year, the state added 224,750 voters – 82,638 fewer than the same period in 2008. A similar comparison of the first seven months of 2012 and 2008 shows a dip in voter registrations of 25,486 in Iowa, 23,009 in Virginia, 19,199 in Nevada and 9,566 in Colorado.

The declines look particularly dramatic on the Democratic side, largely as a reflection of how well the Obama campaign did in mobilising new voters in its first run on the presidency in 2008. This year it has clearly struggled to repeat the performance.

In Iowa, Democrats registered 69,301 voters between January and August 2008, but over the same period this year the party’s voter roll dropped by more than 45,000 as a result of the voting rolls being purged. Republicans in Iowa by contrast held relatively steady – they put on 7,515 voters in the first eight months of 2008 and 5,671 this year.

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—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer. 

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