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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Turnout and Registration: Problems for POTUS

A USA Today poll suggests that GOTV and other elements of the ground game will be crucial:
A nationwide USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll of people who are eligible to vote but aren't likely to do so finds that these stay-at-home Americans back Obama's re-election over Republican Mitt Romney by more than 2-1. Two-thirds of them say they are registered to vote. Eight in 10 say the government plays an important role in their lives.
Even so, they cite a range of reasons for declaring they won't vote or saying the odds are no better than 50-50 that they will: They're too busy. They aren't excited about either candidate. Their vote doesn't really matter. And nothing ever gets done, anyway.
"There's this pool of people that Barack Obama doesn't even need to persuade," says David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, which took the survey. "All he needs to do is find them and identify them and get them to the polls. It's like a treasure chest. But the bad news is that the treasure chest is locked. …
"You've got this overriding sense of bitterness and people who have been beaten down by the economy and the negativity and the lack of trust, and that's the key that Obama can't find. And he's running out of time."
The Boston Globe reports:
Across Florida on Wednesday, President Obama’s campaign scheduled 53 field events to register voters. Last weekend in Virginia, there were at least 78 such events — typical of drills in the past several months on behalf of the incumbent Democrat in the battleground states that are likely to decide the Nov. 6 election.
But a Globe analysis of voter registration data in swing states reveals scant evidence that the massive undertaking is yielding much fresh support for Obama.
In stark contrast to 2008, when a strong partisan tailwind propelled Democratic voter registration to record levels, this year Republican and independent gains are far outpacing those of Democrats.
In Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Colorado, and Nevada — tossup states where direct election-year comparisons could be drawn — the numbers are striking. Democratic rolls increased by only 39,580, less than one-tenth the amount at the comparable point in the 2008 election.
At the same time, GOP registration has jumped by 145,085, or more than double for the same time four years ago. Independent registration has shown an even stronger surge, to 229,500, almost three times the number at this point in 2008.
The Obama campaign is saying that the 2008 gains are still in the bank:
Jan Leighley, an American University professor of political science with a specialty in voter turnout, sees merit in the Obama camp’s explanation. “To say ‘We did a lot in 2008 and we’re not going to repeat those numbers in terms of a percentage increase’ is a legitimate point,” said Leighley. “Registration is not the endgame; the endgame for the campaign is to get people to the polls,” she said.