Politics

Voter Registration Hits Historic All-Time High

| by Robert Fowler
A sign at a polling place directing votersA sign at a polling place directing voters

A data firm found that voter registration in the U.S. has hit a new record high for the 2016 presidential election, passing the 200 million threshold.

On Oct. 19, Democratic political data firm TargetSmart announced 200,081,377 voters are registered in the U.S., a 33 percent increase from 2008, Politico reports.

“As we cross the threshold of 200 million registered voters for the first time, there are signs of an ever diversifying electorate, and one that is more favorable to Democratic candidates,” said Tom Bonier, CEO of TargetSmart.

The number of registered voters is not tracked in a national database because elections are run individually by the states, but data firms such as TargetSmart specialize in identifying who is registered.

More than 50 million Americans have registered to vote for the first time in the past eight years. In 1996, the number of registered voters was 127.6 million.

Breaking down TargetSmart’s findings, 42.6 percent of newly registered voters in 2016 lean Democratic, 29 percent lean Republican and 28.4 percent lean independent. In every battleground state, the majority of new registered voters also lean Democratic.

By August, the majority of new registered voters in Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Iowa were Republican-leaning. It appears the months between August and October have seen a dramatic shift in new registrations trending in the Democrats’ favor.

FiveThirtyEight’s David Wasserman observed that the superior GOP number of new registered voters during the summer were largely inactive Democrats who had switched to the Republican party to vote for Republican nominee Donald Trump during the primaries. He added that the final months leading up to the election would be the most crucial.

“Democrats have excelled in registering new supporters in the home stretch, and a strong final push by [Democratic nominee Hillary] Clinton’s superior ground operation could help put close states like Iowa and Nevada away,” Wasserman wrote.

TargetSmart found there were more Democratic-leaning newly registered voters than Republican-leaning by a margin of 4.3 percentage points in Georgia, 29.3 percentage points in Colorado, 20.4 percentage points in Nevada and 9.2 percentage points in North Carolina.

In February, a Pew Research Center poll found that the 2016 presidential election was set to become the most diverse in American history.

The survey found that the number of newly eligible white voters had only grown by 2 percent since 2012, while the number of eligible African-Americans had grown by 6 percent, Asians by 16 percent and Hispanics by 17 percent.

The 2016 election could mark a new record in population turnout for a presidential election. The previous record holder was the 2008 race, when 131.4 million registered voters cast their ballots.

Sources: FiveThirtyEightPew Research CenterPolitico / Photo credit: Justgrimes/Flickr

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