Who’s Voting and Who’s Lying?

Note: This long, long, long post started out to make a simple point about the AP/Yahoo poll released this weekend and – like a number of things I’ve done to the readers of this blog – turned into one of those items that will no doubt be used as evidence in my commitment hearings. I can’t imagine anyone will have as much fun reading it as I did writing and researching it, but then again, maybe you lost your copy of Moby Dick or whatever you use to fall asleep with and this can help.  – Austin

Political junkies and others are spending a lot of time these days pondering a couple of seemingly contradictory data points:

  • As has been noted on this very blog, based on history, the Republican party and its candidates ought to be – in the words of Jim Morrison – “down so god damned far that it looks like up to me.”  Specifically, a party presiding over this level of economic disaster is usually flogged in the voting booth (think 1992 and multiply by 4-5).  We’re in the midst of an economic calamity on par with the Depression that brought to office a Democratic administration that remained in power for 20 years.

Similarly, when sitting presidents are unpopular – and no occupant of the Oval Office has ever been this unpopular for this long – his would-be political successors are pretty much toasted in the polls (think 1976 when Jerry Ford lost to Carter and 1980 when Carter lost to Reagan; add them together and multiply by whatever big number you can think of and you’ve got some idea of how bad the George W Bush brand is).

  • Voter registration trends across the country overwhelmingly favor the Democrats.  In state after state, Democratic voter registration has far outpaced GOP efforts, especially in key battleground states.  The Columbus Dispatch, for example, reported that there are a million new Democratic registrations in Ohio since 2004 versus just 356,000 new Republican registrants.  In Florida, Democrats picked up 258,000 registrants in about eight months versus 101,000 for the GOP. In North Carolina, Democrats have added a net-net of 50,000 registered voters over the GOP, 7,500 net-net in New Hamphshire and 13,000 net-net in New Mexico.
  • Voter enthusiasm – interest in voting – also has tended to favor the Democrats this election.  An enthusiastic voter is far more likely to make the effort to go to the polls, to volunteer and donate.  All those factors matter on election day when races are really decided by who turns out their supporters.  In recent elections, the GOP has benefitted from low-turnout elections because they have done a better job of motivating and turnout their ranks.  This is why on election day, all good Republicans are on their knees praying for rain.  This year, though, the motivation edge seems to favor the Donkeys.

This advantage has been at least temporarily offset by the Palin Effect but even if she is an enduring factor (there’s some evidence that the Palin Effect may not be a long-lasting phenomenon), given the voter registration numbers, this is still a positive check in the Dem’s column.

And yet…

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