Battleground State Voter Registration Concerns for Obama — Today’s Must Read

Shortly after the Wisconsin recall Karl Rove slipped some important data into a discussion about how Scott Walker carried the state. In short, Rove identified that Democrats were losing the voter registration drive in eight Battleground states. Dante Chinni in the Wall Street Journal picks up on this development and confirms that a decided strength for Obama in 2008 is a cause for concern in November:

Comparing the registration numbers in Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Colorado now to where they were in November 2008 shows they are up in Colorado and Virginia, flat in Florida, and down in Ohio. By themselves those figures are somewhat surprising. Florida and Ohio arguably had the more important Republican nominating contests this spring, yet their registration numbers seem to indicate less interest. But looking at those registration numbers using Patchwork Nation’s geographic/demographic breakdown of county types, there is a bigger story in them – and one that should give President Barack  Obama some concerns about the voter pool he might be facing in November. There look to be problems for the Democrats in some key places.

Major problems for Obama in Ohio:

Of the four states we examined, registrations in Ohio may present the biggest challenge for Mr. Obama. There’s been a seven percent drop in registrations across the state since November of 2008, but the fall has been particularly steep in the state’s three Industrial Metropolis counties: Cuyahoga, Franklin and Hamilton, the homes of Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati respectively. Mr. Obama won Ohio largely on the strength of the vote coming out of those counties – he carried them by 24 percentage points – and at this point voter registrations in the three have dropped by more than 370,000 voters. In Cuyahoga alone, the drop is more than 220,000 voters. The Ohio presidential vote is often a nail-biter with Democrats pinning their hopes on Cleveland’s late-arriving tally. If these numbers don’t change that long wait could bring disappointment for the Obama team.

Problems lurk underneath Florida numbers:

Voter registrations in Florida overall are essentially unchanged, a slight 0.2% increase over November 2008, but most of the counties have seen declines – including the state’s Industrial Metropolis and Campus and Careers counties (the two type of counties where Democratic candidates run up especially big margins). The biggest increases in Florida have come in the state’s aging Emptying Nest counties, and they could be a problem for Mr. Obama. Those counties in Florida went for him by a slim margin, but many older voters in them take issue with the White House’s health-care reform law. They have been hotbeds of tea party support. There are also slightly fewer registered voters, about 20,000, in Miami-Dade County, where Mr. Obama took 58% of the vote in 2008. Remember that’s in a state Mr. Obama won by only a few percentage points – and that will likely be tougher terrain in 2012.

Virginia shows pockets of strength:

There’s been a slight uptick in voter registrations in Virginia since 2008, a 2.4% increase or about 120,000 voters. But the vast majority of the increased registrations have come from two types the wealthy Monied Burbs and the Boom Towns, which saw big growth in the beginning of the last decade and have seen the biggest bump in registrations, some 65,000 people. The Burbs, based heavily around Washington, D.C., were good to Mr. Obama. He won them by 13 percentage points. But the Boom Towns, where he eked out a one-percentage point win, were tougher territory for him. And those places, hurt hard in the foreclosure crisis, will likely be more difficult  in 2012.

Colorado up all over:

Registrations are up across the state, and up especially in Denver, the state’s Industrial Metropolis county where Obama captured 75% of the vote in 2008. They’re also up in Boulder, the Campus and Careers county, where Mr. Obama took 72%. Those kinds of huge margins mean those registration increases have a good chance of translating into increased Democratic vote totals. The real issue for Mr. Obama – and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney – in Colorado are the Monied Burbs. They hold a third of all registered voters in the state and they’ve added some 80,000 registered voters since 2008. The Burbs were incredibly close in Colorado in 2008, with Mr. Obama winning them by about 2,500 votes.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] among Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and North Carolina since the 2008, and serious ugliness for Democrats in Ohio yet our friendly unbiased pollsters see huge Democrat turnout advantages everywhere they […]

  2. […] this county show up in a few posts — both in the Ohio battleground Map post as well as in the voter registration post.  The Cincinnati Enquirer takes a look at this county that may be the home of Romney’s Vice […]

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