Thursday, September 18, 2008

Republicans Need to Heed Rokita's Warning: Indiana's Coming New Voter Surge

This week, I had the opportunity to watch Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita being interviewed on CNN. Rokita was talking about the surge of voter registrations in the state and said that the McCain people need to take very seriously the claim by Obama that he intends to carry the State. An Indianapolis Star-WTHR poll released today shows Obama up in Indiana 47-44 over McCain.

This blog isn't about cheerleading my Republican Party. It's about straight-talk, including honest political analysis. I said it before and I'll say it again, Republicans in this state are whistling by the graveyard if they don't see the enormous danger reflected in Indiana's voter registration numbers. As of last Saturday, the numbers were 562,694 new and updated registration applications in 2008. The Secretary of State further reports that there have been 410,647 new registrations since the last election. These are records folks with the three busiest weeks of registration left to go.

I remember in May Republicans giddy about the the fact that the Democrats had a hotly contested primary race for President in Indiana. The celebration was foolish. As I worked my voting location in Marion County, I saw new voter after new voter come in and take a Democrat ballot. Many of these people were first time voters establishing a voting habit (pulling the Demcorat lever) that they will probably carry forward for years to come and certainly into the next election. Contrary to the accepted wisdom, primaries are not always bad. The Democrats used the battle between Obama and Hillary Clinton to register millions of new voters nationwide and energize their base. Sure there remains some animosity between the two camps, but the Democrats are wise to trade that tension for milliions of new Democrat-leaning voters.

Going back to the numbers, let's say that by the end of registration there are 500,000 new voters in the State since 2006. (I prefer to concentrate on the brand new voters rather than lump them in with the voters who have the updated registrations.) With the interest and enthusiasm on the Democrats' side, they will skew strongly in favor of that party. So let's do the numbers.

500,000 x a predicted 75% turnout of these new voters (new voters are people who have shown a recent interest in voting and are going to turnout heavy, especially in this election)

This produces: 375,000 new voters on November 4th.

Given the interest in voter registration among Democrats because of the contested primary and Obama's popularity, I expect the new voter registration numbers to break 2-1 in favor of Democrats. So let's finish the math:

375,000 x .67 = 251,250 new Democrat voters. Subtract out the estimated 123,750 Repubicans which produces an edge of 127,500 for Democrats running statewide.

That analysis probably understates the Democrats' advantage among new registrations. It also doesn't take into effect the record number of updated registrations which undoubtedly reflect a Democrat trend. Most importantly though, while the enthusiasim gap has closed with McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as a running mate, enthusiasm still remains strong on the Obama side. Even if polls are dead even, the intensity of support for one candidate or another can greatly skew the results in favor of the candidate or party that voters are enthused about.

Republicans need to be prepared because on November 4th there is going to be a Democrat voter registration storm surge that's going to hit the state.

1 comment:

Sir Hailstone said...

And what we don't know is how many of these voter registrations are illegal ones done by ACORN and therefore invalid.