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CSPG Report: Voter Registration Declines in Many States

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A new report released by the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance was released today that finds – contrary to press accounts of a surge in voter registration across the country – that a large number of states have seen their voter rolls decline or flatten since the 2004 election.

From the report:

A comparison of official voter registration records in the fall of 2004 with those in the fall of 2008 reveals the following:
• Registration has not improved in nearly half of the uncontested states.
• Registration has increased in nearly all of the states targeted by the campaigns.
• More Democrats than Republicans have been registered in targeted states.

Voter registration stagnated or declined in many of the states that have not been intensely contested in the presidential election. Thirteen of the thirty-three states and District of Columbia that were not targeted saw their registration stagnate or decline between fall 2004 and fall 2008. For instance, registration declined in South Dakota by 5 percent since 2004 and slipped in New York by 2 percent. The crusade to reach out to new voters and bring them into the electoral process has skipped large parts of the country.

Registration in the largest and fastest growing states has been neglected. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the population in Texas expanded by 7 percent between 2004 and 2007, but the voter rolls grew by only 1 percent. Registration also lagged behind population growth in New York and Illinois.

There is a more general pattern: Registration trailed population growth in 17 of 33 uncontested states. What stands out is that many of these states experienced unusually large population growth. Indeed, registration rolls lagged behind population expansion in 6 of the 8 fastest growing states (including Arizona, Utah, North Carolina, and Georgia).

States that are singled out by the presidential campaigns are showered with resources to register voters and the impact is plain: 14 of the 15 most contested states expanded voter registration since 2004.

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Remains of the Data

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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