Karl Rove checks in on voter registration efforts and find Mitt Romney capitalizing in more area than just the polls following his thrashing of Obama in the debates:
How big an impact did Mitt Romney’s performance in last week’s debate have? Huge. Mr. Romney not only won the night, he changed the arc of the election—and perhaps its outcome.
An Oct. 7 Pew Research report found that before the debate, Romney voters were four points more likely than Obama voters to give the election “a lot of thought.” After it, Romney-voter engagement was 15 points higher than that of Obama voters. This enthusiasm gap already expresses itself in voter registration and is now influencing early voting.
In the eight battleground states that register voters by party, Republicans have maintained their advantage or cut into the Democrats’ in all but one (Nevada). Since September 2008, Republicans have kept their registration advantages in Colorado and New Hampshire. They’ve added more new Republican registrations than Democrats did in Florida, Iowa and North Carolina. And they’ve lost fewer voters from the rolls than Democrats did in New Mexico and Pennsylvania.
- Republicans are also getting the better of Mr. Obama in early voting. In 2008, Democrats made up 51% of the North Carolina early vote while Republicans were 30%. This year, Republicans have cast 54% of the ballots returned so far, Democrats only 28%, according to state data compiled by George Mason University’s Michael McDonald for his United States Election Project.
- In Florida, 46% of absentee ballots returned by September’s end came from Republicans (compared with 37% in 2008) while just 38% came from Democrats (they were 46% of the total in 2008). More Republicans have requested absentee ballots in Colorado, a state where Democrats edged out Republicans in early voting last time.
- Republicans have also made up ground in Ohio. For example, in 2008 Democrats requested 5% more absentee ballots in Franklin County (Columbus), 4% more in Greene County (Xenia), and 11% more in Wood County (Bowling Green). This election, Republicans have more ballot requests than Democrats in these counties by 5%, 19% and 1% respectively.
The Romney campaign saw a $12 million surge in online contributions following the debate, and major GOP fundraisers are again opening their checkbooks. True enough, Hollywood stars and rich San Francisco liberals wrote big checks during Mr. Obama’s two-day California swing this week. But it isn’t clear what overall impact the president’s poor debate performance will have on his fundraising. The small Internet donors that produced an eye-popping $181 million fundraising total in September may be disappointed in his debate skills and waiting to see if he improves.