DEM SHRINKAGE – AT 9:11 A.M. ET: There are fewer Dems. (Why not have a little good news?) The Politico reports on one of the most important political stories of the day, one that can have a profound effect on the upcoming election:
A new report on voter registration trends finds that Democratic voter registration is down by more than 800,000 since 2008 in 8 key battleground states.
GOP registration has also declined – but by only 79,000, a tenth of the Democrats’ losses.
Meanwhile, registered independents are on the rise, increasing their numbers in those states by nearly half-a-million.
The analysis, conducted by centrist Democratic think tank Third Way and appearing first in POLITICO, points to the critical role independent voters will play in determining the presidential outcome in some of the most competitive states on the 2012 map – Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
The biggest independent gains came in North Carolina, the site of the Democratic National Convention this year and a state that was decided by less 15,000 votes in 2008. While both major parties lost ground there in the four years since then, Democrats have been especially hard hit: registration fell by 116,662 (-4.1%), compared to a GOP decline of 13,017 (-0.7%).
The real story, however, is the spike in independent voter registration. The number of independents grew by 207,173 (14.4%), meaning they now comprise a quarter of North Carolina’s registered voters. In the state’s two largest counties, Charlotte’s Mecklenberg County and Raleigh’s Wake County, independent registration increased by nearly 11 percent and 17 percent respectively since 2008.
Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico have also posted double-digit percentage gains in the number of independent voters since the last presidential election.
Florida’s Democratic voter erosion outpaced North Carolina, with Democratic registration declining by 235,000 (-4.9%). The number of Republicans essentially remained static with a gain of 19,000 voters (0.5%). Independents, on the other hand, grew by 8.2 percent.
What’s most interesting about the Florida data is where the independents’ growth is taking place – among Hispanics. The state has seen a surge in the percentage of Hispanic voters over the past four years – 14.4 percent – and, according to the Third Way report, “nearly as many Hispanic voters have registered as independents as have registered as Democrats or Republicans combined.”
Florida is one of 6 of the 8 states – the others are Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina and Pennsylvania – where independent registration outpaced both Democratic and Republican registration since 2008.
COMMENT: It is a great opportunity for Romney, if he can seize it. At the same time, the Obamans are masters at running as centrists and then governing as leftists. But that game has been exposed, and we hope independents take note.
After some erosion in recent weeks, Romney has shown a gain of a few points in the polls since naming Paul Ryan, although the two may not necessarily be related. We'll look for today's Rasmussen and Gallup trackers for guidance on whether that little trend continues.
The real battle is ahead. I see signs of fight in Romney, perhaps due to the energizing effect of the Ryan pick, and the anger building among Republicans over Obama's smear campaign. We must burn rubber until election day, even if there's an environmental impact.
August 15, 2012