Washington, Oct.6 : Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is poised to benefit from a wave of newcomers to the rolls in key states in numbers that far outweigh any gains made by Republicans.
In the past year, the rolls have expanded by about four million voters in a dozen key states. George W. Bush carried the eleven states that Obama is targeting -- Ohio, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, Missouri, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada and New Mexico -- in 2004.
In Florida, according to the Washington Post, Democratic registration gains this year have more than doubled Republican gains; in Colorado and Nevada the ratio is 4 to 1, and in North Carolina it is 6 to 1.
Even in states with nonpartisan registration, the trend is clear -- of the 310,000 new voters in Virginia, a disproportionate share live in Democratic strongholds.
Republicans acknowledge the challenge but say Obama still has to prove he can get the new voters to the polls.
The Obama campaign says it expects the numbers of new voters in swing states to swell even more later this month as elections offices process the tens of thousands of registrations still pouring in. And it exudes confidence about its ability to turn the new voters out with a vigorous follow-up operation.
Obama, who led a major voter drive in Chicago in 1992, has stressed voter registration from the outset of his campaign, seeing younger or disaffected Americans as a crucial pool of support. The campaign intensified its outreach over the summer, dispatching hundreds of staff members and volunteers to states with large percentages of unregistered voters.
Complementing its efforts are organizations that have been registering hundreds of thousands on their own, such as Democracia USA, which registers Hispanic voters; ACORN, the anti-poverty group; and Women's Voices, Women Vote, which targets unmarried women. More generally, this year's-registration tilt is part of a broader shift since 2004 away from Republican affiliation, particularly among younger and Hispanic voters and among college-educated professionals in former GOP strongholds such as New Hampshire, Colorado, and the suburbs of Philadelphia and Northern Virginia.
As of September 1, the most recent date for which party divides new registrations, Democratic rolls were up by 316,000 and GOP rolls by 129,000 this year. The GOP figure falls short of the gain of 155,000 among independents. This year's additions expanded the Democrats' registration edge in Florida to half a million voters, a gap expected to grow by Election Day as the several hundred thousand voters who have signed up since Sept. 1 are added to the party totals.
Obama's investment in voter registration has taken some of the burden off the nonprofit groups that did much of that work in 2004, but they are still active. The groups are not allowed to coordinate with the campaign, but they try to target separate areas to avoid overlap.
The Obama campaign predicts that 80 percent of the voters it is registering will support Obama, and that 75 percent will turn out, a rate it bases on turnout during the primaries.
That means that for every 100,000 voters it registers, it would net a 45,000-vote edge on Election Day.