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Elections, Politics

Obama and the Democrats have voter registration problems

Posted: May 6, 2012 at 11:15 am   /   by

In the previous post, we discussed the notion that polls are overstating Obama’s strength, and that he and the Democrats are in a weaker position than many believe they are. And in Friday’s Washington Post, Krissah Thompson provides even more evidence for this notion in another area . . .

Voter registration:

The number of black and Hispanic registered voters has fallen sharply since 2008, posing a serious challenge to the Obama campaign in an election that could turn on the participation of minority voters.

In the 2008 election, robust turnout among black and Latino voters is credited with putting Obama over the top in key swing states, including Virginia and New Mexico.

Voter rolls typically shrink in non-presidential election years and registrations among whites fell at roughly the same rate, but this is the first time in nearly four decades that the number of registered Hispanics has dropped significantly.

That figure fell 5 percent across the country, to about 11 million, according to the Census Bureau. But in some politically important swing states, the decline among Hispanics, who are considered critical in the 2012 presidential contest, is much higher: just over 28 percent in New Mexico, for example, and about 10 percent in Florida.

This last fact is crucial: Nearly half of Hispanics are in California or Texas, both of which are safe states, one for each party. To the extent that Hispanics will impact the election, it will have to be in swing states, and if the numbers are dropping dramatically in swing states, that will have an effect on Obama’s coalition.

The GOP is also narrowing the Democrats’ long-standing registration advantage in a number of key states:

The GOP is also watching the shifting voter registration numbers, tracking active Republican voters in swing states and making sure they are still registered. In some places, the number of voters registered as Republicans is catching up with Democrats.

“We have really closed the gap in key battleground states,” said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski, pointing to the relative parity Republicans have reached with Democrats in Iowa and Colorado.

Further complicating matters for the Democrats are the new voting rules being instituted in states across the country. The rules, designed to prevent fraud, are causing consternation among Democrats.

Those efforts, say campaign officials, have been complicated by laws approved by state legislatures since 2008, including some that place additional requirements on groups that register voters.

“It is disheartening to see voting becoming harder in states across the country,” said Katie Hogan, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign. She said the campaign is “doing the challenging work of registering voters, even when Republican legislation is trying to make it more difficult.”

A dozen state legislatures passed rules last year requiring voters to present state-issued photo IDs when they arrive at the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, although in four states the laws were vetoed by Democratic governors. The bills continue to be a hot topic in state houses. Pennsylvania’s governor signed a voter ID bill in March, and the Virginia General Assembly also recently sent a voter ID bill to the governor.

Florida and Ohio will cut nearly in half the number of days for early voting, and Florida lawmakers reversed rules that had made it easier for former felons to vote.

After decades of registration fraud by groups such as ACORN and others—leading to arrests and convictions—in numerous states, efforts to tighten up voting laws are an understandable response. But tightened voting laws impact Democrats far more than Republicans, as is evidenced by the feigned outrage we’re hearing about attempts to “disenfranchise” people by making fraud more difficult.

Tightened voting laws impact Democrats far more than Republicans.

Think about that sentence for a moment. Really roll the meaning around in your head. What does it tell you?

Obama and the Democrats are losing voters, losing support, and losing avenues to increase voting numbers illegitimately. Not exactly a winning combination for them.

Christopher Cook

Christopher Cook

Managing Editor at Western Free Press
Christopher Cook is a writer, editor, and political commentator. He is the president of Castleraine, Inc., a consulting firm providing a diverse array of services to corporate, public policy, and not-for-profit clients.

Ardently devoted to the cause of human freedom, he has worked at the confluence of politics, activism, and public policy for more than a decade. He co-wrote a ten-part series of video shorts on economics, and has film credits as a researcher on 11 political documentaries, including Citizens United's notorious film on Hillary Clinton that became the subject of a landmark Supreme Court decision. He is the founder of several activist endeavors, including (now a part of Western Free Press) and He is currently the managing editor of and principal contributor to
Christopher Cook

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Obama and the Democrats have voter registration problems