Voter Registration and the “Obama Surge” in California

The California Secretary of State’s September 2008 report of voter registration figures for California show a remarkable change. The question is whether the “Obama Surge” will continue in California, or if a return to longer-term trends is more likely.


Over the last eight years, the total number of “Decline to State” voters in California increased 40 percent. But this year “Decline to State” registration froze as a percentage of the state’s voters, at 19.4 percent in January and 19.5 percent in September.


As “Decline to State” registrations surged between 2000 and 2006, the Republican Party held up its registration numbers better than the Democratic Party. Republican registration (as a percentage of statewide registrants) declined by 0.6 percent, while Democratic registration declined 2.9 percent. The total number of Republican registrations declined by only 49,000 voters, while Democratic registration declined by over 400,000.


But after October, 2006, Republican registration numbers faltered. After losing only 0.6 percent over six years, Republican registration fell a full one percent over just fifteen months (between 2006 and January 2008). It then dropped another one percent over the first nine months of 2008.


Driving this year’s Republican stumble and independent freeze is an “Obama Surge.” In 2008, the California Democratic Party has signed up over 465,000 voters, representing 93 percent recovery of the 500,000 registrants it lost over since 2000.


California Democrats started the Bush years with a ten percent registration lead, 45 percent to 35 percent, with 14 percent “Decline to State.” After an eight-year slide, the Democratic Party has recovered and is now up by twelve percent, 44 to 32 percent, with nearly 20 percent “Decline to State.”


Only time will tell if the “Obama Surge” will continue. If the Democratic ticket loses the election, large numbers of the new Democratic voters are likely to drop back out of active political involvement, or to turn independent. Inland California may even experience a Republican “Palin Bounce.” On the other hand, if the Democratic ticket wins and has a successful first 100 days, the “Obama Surge” may continue, or even accelerate, here in California.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.