The coronavirus pandemic appears to be having a chilling effect on Democratic voter registration for the November election in key battleground states. It has not slowed the pace of Republican voter registration, to the surprise and consternation of Democrats and their incompetent pollsters.
An analysis released Monday by the American-Statesman showed that new voter registrations in the key battleground state of Texas were down nearly 30% for the first six months of 2020 compared with a similar period in the 2016 presidential election year.
Even more alarming for Democrats is the news that the rate of new voter registrations has nosedived in major urban areas of Travis, Harris and Dallas counties. These counties historically vote Democratic and could have key political implications if the party is unable to generate a large Democratic turnout.
The most recent data shows that in Travis County, 4,326 new registrations were collected between March 1 and the end of June. Over the same period in 2016, more than twice as many people registered to vote. The data showed a June surge in registrations but the numbers were only slightly higher compared to June 2016.
Political analysts have been focused on the influx of younger, more diverse groups into the state. University of Houston Political Science Professor Brandon Rottinghaus told the Statesman the state “is booming in all kinds of ways, including in places that make Republicans more competitive.”
Data from Democratic Party-affiliated TargetSmart also revealed that although overall voter registration dropped significantly since the pandemic began, registration is down significantly among groups that tend to support Democrats.
Data for the past three months shows that most of the people who were registering were whiter, older and less Democratic than before the pandemic began.
The data shows declines in Democratic voter registration in the key general election battleground states of Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Maine.
Democrats had expected to crush Republicans in voter registration after the George Floyd demonstrations began. TargetSmart data shows that registrations did spike in California after the first weekend of demonstrations in late May and early June, but the state is already heavily Democratic. They had hoped to see registration booming among young people in more competitive states.
The study showed that in the states that register by party — Florida, Colorado, Maine, North Carolina and Pennsylvania — Democrats made up a smaller share of new registrants than before.
In the key swing state of Iowa, new voters helped the GOP retake the statewide lead in voter registrations last month. New voter applications were coming from older and whiter registrants when compared to those who had been recruited before the pandemic hit.
Republican National Committee Press Secretary Mandi Merritt said over the entire pre-election period Republicans “have doubled the amount of new voter registrations … than we did in the entire 2016 cycle.” GOP canvassers added nearly 4,000 new voters to the polls over the July 4th weekend, she said.
The youth vote may not be the ticket to electoral victory that Democrats had envisioned in the wake of mass protests over police brutality. Voters in older and whiter demographic groups are expected to break for Republicans in November.