Monday, August 11, 2008

Voter registration surge

Above is a use of surge that appeals.

Busy scene at HQ of voter registration effort Saturday Aug. 9 to enroll new US citizens after naturalization ceremonies at Miami-Dade County Auditorium.

The way Barack Obama has won elections is by adding to the voting rolls, and it's happening already in Florida. Part of the good news is that the surge in registered voters dates from well before the Obama campaign started running at speed.

The link here is to the Miami Herald online story Monday from Tallahassee reporting the final tally after registration closed for the Aug. 26 primary election. We Democrats are doing better than the Republicans at adding registered voters. The statewide total, however, is only 10.6 million voters, and you'd guess there are a couple million people out there waiting to be invited to vote -- and to be signed up for vote-by-mail, too.

By the way, there's a misleading line in that story, coming from The Associated Press (my former employer): "The Democrats are doing a much better job better than the Republicans at registering new voters ..." Sorry, but if you compare today's numbers with those two years ago, just before the 2006 mid-term election, the Republicans actually LOST about 11,000 registered voters statewide. We Dems are up about 200,0000.

Before we look at the Miami-Dade picture, here are the statewide numbers, as of Aug. 10:

  • Democrats 4.4 million
  • Republicans 3.924 million
  • Non-party 2.3 million

In October 2006, final registration figures before the mid-term general election were:

  • Democrats 4.2 million
  • Republicans 3.935 million
  • Non-party 1.96 million
We see that the non-party folks actually are making the biggest gain, and I have to say that the most vociferous Miamian I encountered in phone-banking the other day was a lady from the Pox-on-all-parties opinion sector. But under her bluster I discerned a tendency to vote for the presidential candidate of her registration -- Democratic. But who knows the fate of those down the ticket. I cringe for our fine Congressional candidates if some of these people can't be convinced to vote Democratic.

Statewide, there's no reason in the registration statistics for the legislature in Tallahassee to be ruled easily by the Republicans. They should have about 40 percent of the seats instead of the two-thirds they now hold. Only rank gerrymandering makes this possible.

Remedy: already is circulating petitions to rip politics out of the redistricting that is done after every federal census. This must become a powerful drive after the November election, so that it becomes part of the state constitution before the next generation of gerrymanderers steps up to bat. Tip o' the hat to Barbara Schwartz for the work she's started on this petition in Miami-Dade.

Break out the magnifying glass. Now we turn to the PDF files where the Florida Department of State hides its voter statistics. Or you can just trust my summary for Miami-Dade, herewith.

Final figures for the Aug. 26 primary for the county:
  • Democrats 515,985
  • Republicans 369,856
  • Non-party 269,701
Compared with final figures for the 2006 general election:
  • Democrats 459,820
  • Republicans 370,191
  • Non-party 248,173
Again, the Non-party sector has grown some 21,000 people, but not as much as the Democrats' surge -- Love that word -- of about 56,000. The Miami-Dade Republicans are down a few hundred.

Saving the bad news for last: we lost the 2004 presidential vote in Florida by 380,000 votes. If we're to make up that deficit with newly registered voters, we're only half-way there. Back to work!

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