230,000 New Registrations in Cleveland: Is That a Lot?
With voter registration deadlines starting to bite, there's been a spate of articles about swelling voter rolls
. Most of these articles cite figures that aren't that easy to interpret, such as Cleveland's total this year of "230,000 new registrations, more than double the number in 2000." We don't know how this compares to the total number of voters in Cleveland, how many people registered twice, how many people were re-registering after a move, or how many people left the rolls as they died or moved out of the state.
Buried at the end of their report, ABC reports some more useful figures
What's ultimately essential is who votes, and current polling suggest higher-than-usual turnout. Interest is high, and registration drives across the country may be having an effect. Compared to an ABC News/Washington Post poll at this time in 2000, Americans are six points more likely to say they're registered to vote; and registered voters are six points more likely to say they're certain to vote, and 18 points more likely to be following the election very closely.
ABC's poll had a sample of 1800 adults, so we have a gain of 6 points (+/- 2.6). Pew always reports figures for the percent registered, so their data is available for a larger sample (although just what period to look at is a judgment call). Pew finds that voter registration rose from 77 to 80 percent in the last four years (+/- 1.6).
In other words, between 4% (Pew) and 7% (ABC) of voters this year will be new additions to the rolls, resulting from the intense registration efforts of the parties and the 527s and the high interest in this election. This assumes, of course, that the newly registered vote as the same rate as the rest of the electorate. The ranks of the newly registered are presumably higher in the swing states, where the registration drives are concentrated and voter interest is strongest.
Polls of registered voters will presumably capture these new additions. But there's a good chance that polls of likely voters are screening them out. With the race looking like it will be tight this year, 4-7% is a large number of voters, plenty big enough to swing an election.
Click on "####" for the table.
End Date of Poll Adults RV %RV
---------------- ------ ----- ----
23-Jul-00 1,204 918 76.2
28-Jun-00 2,174 1,673 77.0
10-Sep-00 2,799 1,999 71.4
8-Oct-00 1,331 1,009 75.8
22-Oct-00 1,263 997 78.9
29-Oct-00 1,963 1,508 76.8
5-Nov-00 2,254 1,829 81.1
TOTAL 12,988 9,933 76.5
TOTAL October 4,557 3,514 77.1
13-Jun-04 1,806 1,426 79.0
10-Aug-04 1,512 1,166 77.1
14-Sep-04 2,494 1,972 79.1
21-Sep-04 1,200 989 82.4
26-Sep-04 1,200 948 79.0
3-Oct-04 1,233 1,002 81.3
TOTAL 9,445 7,503 79.4
TOTAL Sept/Oct. 6,127 4,911 80.2
Source: Pew, "About the Survey".