Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Party Affiliation of Ohio's New Registered Voters

In my previous post, I explained how the number of total number of registered voters increased by a little over 180,000 from the levels of the 2004 Bush/Kerry election. I also stated that two thirds of this increase came from counties Bush won in 2004. I also stated that while on the surface, this would appear to be good news for McCain, there were indications that this might not be the case. Today I will begin to explain some of those indications which come from an analysis Ohio voters who registered in 2008.

An analysis of the registered voter list in Ohio shows that 859,724 people registered to vote in 2008. The reason the total registered voters did not increase by this amount from 2004 is because many counties purged their registered voter rolls between 2004 and 2008, eliminating hundreds of thousands of voters on the rolls who were not longer valid.

Examining the characteristics of the voters who registered in 2008 clearly indicate an advantage for Obama.

The first indicator is an analysis by party affiliation. It is not required to declare a party affiliation in Ohio when you register to vote. In fact, that vast majority of 2008 registrants did not declare an affiliation. Of those that did though, they favored the Democrats over the Republicans by a 3:1 margin (93,700 to 33,841).

This breakout is significantly different from the voters who registered prior to 2008 in two respects. First, there are significantly more independents in 2008, and secondly, the ratio of Democrats to Republicans is higher than normal.

Because the vast majority of new voters registered as independent, it's important to look at other characteristics of the new registrants as well to get more insight. Analyzing the new registrations by county can provide some of this insight.

This analysis also provides bad news for McCain, although not quite as bad.

Over 500,000 (59%) of the new registrations came from counties that supported Kerry in 2004 while a little over 350,000 (41%) came from counties that supported Bush in 2004. Looking at only the independent registrants reveal the exact same percentages.

Remember, Bush won Ohio by 120,000 votes.

If Obama wants to look for even more good news, it's that it appears that he is making inroads in counties that voted for Bush in 2004. In 83 of Ohio's 88 counties, even those that voted for Bush in 2004, there were more new Democrats registered than new Republicans.

Obama has set up a ton of campaign offices in Ohio and it appears that they are registering voters throughout Ohio, not just in the big cities.

With all of this said, this does not mean Ohio is a slam dunk for Obama. There are things that should give McCain hope, and I will be posting some of these soon.

UPDATE: The Akron Beacon Journal is reporting that 666,000 new voters registered in Ohio in 2008, about 200,000 less than I reported above. That would seem to indicate that the voter file I used included name and address changes made in 2008 in addition to new voter registrations. The file supplied by the Ohio Secretary of State's office listed all 859,000 voters with a registration date of 2008.