August 5, 2008

An Army of Apathetics: Registration Legislation and Nonvoters

Hatched by Dafydd

The Democratic National Committee has found a "new" crusade -- that hardy, hoary perennial: voter registration of traditionally Democratic constituencies, such as blacks, Hispanics, unmarried mothers, and the homeless.

By targeting such "potential voters," notes the Wall Street Journal, groups such as ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), the National Council of La Raza ("the race"), the Urban League, and other partisan shills masquerading as civic-minded community organizers hope to pack the Senate with a filibuster-proof majority, the House with a conscience-proof majority, and propel fellow "community organizer" Barack H. Obama into the White House... all to usher in a new era of government of the downtrodden, for the downtrodden, and by -- the anointed elite.

They plan to register an additional 1.2 million welfaristas, felons, and bums before the November election; the Times jubilantly announces that the efforts have borne much fruit, reporting a shift in voter registration towards the Democrats in many states since 2005:

Well before Senators Barack Obama and John McCain rose to the top of their parties, a partisan shift was under way at the local and state level. For more than three years starting in 2005, there has been a reduction in the number of voters who register with the Republican Party and a rise among voters who affiliate with Democrats and, almost as often, with no party at all....

In six states, including Iowa, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, the Democratic piece of the registration pie grew more than three percentage points, while the Republican share declined. In only three states — Kentucky, Louisiana and Oklahoma — did Republican registration rise while Democratic registration fell, but the Republican increase was less than a percentage point in Kentucky and Oklahoma. Louisiana was the only state to register a gain of more than one percentage point for Republicans as Democratic numbers declined.

But what the Times doesn't see fit to print -- not until "after the jump," on page 2 of the story -- is that the shift away from Republicans nearly all comprises a shift not to Democrats but to "unaffiliated":

In the 26 states and the District of Columbia where registration data were available, the total number of registered Democrats increased by 214,656, while the number of Republicans fell by 1,407,971.

Thus, at most, 15% of Republicans who reregistered became Democrats; the other 85% changed to independent, unaffiliated, or some minor party. There is no significant trend towards the Democrats; more likely, reregistration is a protest aimed at the "spend everything and then some" Republicans, who controlled Congress prior to the 2006 elections.

Here is the biggest problem with the chimera of registration drives: It is so easy to register today -- with registration booths at supermarkets, post offices, malls, churches, missions, flophouses, schools, and street corners, let alone the near-automatic registration schemes like "motor-voter" -- that one almost has to consciously reject voting to remain unregistered. Thus, those people still not registered are disproportionately those who have simply dropped out of civic society.

They have dropped out, not because Bull-Connor Republicans are using whips and firehoses to prevent blacks, Hispanics, and bums from registering, but because those particular people are simply apathetic about voting. Thus, just because you register them doesn't mean they're any more likely to vote in November.

It's well known that voter turnout in the United States (unlike countries that compel voting) centers around 50%. Some localities have much higher turnout each election cycle; but in every election, a very large percentage of registered voters don't vote.

I don't think it's a stretch to posit that those qualified adults who remain unregistered until someone form ACORN rushes up to them, pushes a registration form at them, and tells them that if they sign it, they'll get money for housing... are precisely those newly registered apathetics who will not bother to vote on election day.

Why turn to something nebulous and impossible to measure like turnout among the newly registered, when there is a much simpler explanation for the 2006 GOP losses? Voters were turned off by the GOP they saw running the 109th Congress -- the Republicans of earmarks, drunken spending sprees, and Mark Foley.

But this election is about a different GOP, one that is now more in touch with the electorate than the Democrats; now the Democrats are seen as a "culture of corruption" and as wild spenders, ineffectual and inept, aristocratic, unconcerned, and aloof. It's the "Marie-Antoinette Democrats," as Hugh Hewitt now calls them, who won't do anything (or anything good, at least) about energy woes, taxes, the Iraq war, small business, or the economy in general. And there is no reason to believe that a "massive" increase in Democratic party registration (all of 3%!) presages a wholesale shift to liberalism on the part of the electorate.

In fact, the Times itself admits that one reason Democrats are doing better is that they are running candidates who are, on paper, more conservative... winning candidates like Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA, 85%) and Gov. Tim Kaine, also of Virginia. Webb ran as more conservative than incumbent Sen. George Allen... and even so, it took the "Macaca" gaffe to give Webb the narrowest of victories. And Kaine calls himself personally anti-abortion, he supports a ban on partial-birth abortion (with the Kerry exception, of course), gun rights, and is fiscally centrist.

And now Webb votes 85% of the time with the hard-liberal Americans for Democratic Action. I don't know how he would fare if he had to run for reelection this year, but he's going to have a lot of splainin' to do in 2012. And both Webb and Kaine endorse and campaign for leftist Barack Obama.

Here is another way to look at the question: If registration is such a big determinant, why is Barack H. Obama dropping and John S. McCain rising in the polls?

It's not just the horserace aspect: Look at the internals of the Rasmussen daily tracking poll, which has the candidates tied. The incredibly useful section they call "by the numbers" reports polling on specific issues and character questions:

Of the major issues, Obama is statistically ahead of McCain (outside the margin of error) only on three:

  • Environment - Obama + 8
  • Health care - Obama + 5
  • Education - Obama + 4 (right on the edge of the margin)

In none of these three issues -- typically Democratic issues -- does Obama even top 50%.

But McCain beats Obama on eight major issues, with two over 50% (in blue):

  • Iraq policy - McCain + 12
  • Immigration - McCain + 9
  • National Security - McCain + 8
  • Taxes - McCain + 7
  • Social Security - McCain + 6
  • Abortion - McCain + 6
  • Negotiating trade agreements - McCain + 5
  • Energy - McCain + 4

The candidates are tied (within the margin) on the economy, ethics, and who can better balance the federal budget. This is vastly better than McCain was doing against Obama just a month ago, when the tracking poll had him 5-6 points behind Obama and losing on most of the issues.

We see a similar pattern on character issues:

  • Who would be the better leader? McCain by 6 points;
  • Who will raise government spending more? Obama by 21 points;
  • Who will raise taxes more? Obama by 23 points;

And some really interesting ones... 27% see McCain as too old to be president, but 41% see Obama as too inexperienced. And respondents see McCain as believing in the fundamental fairness of our society by 70% to 15%... but they're split on the Democrat, with 43% saying Obama believes American society is fundamentally fair, while a plurality of 46% says he believes our society is fundamentally unfair.

Since the American people themselves believe our society is fundamentally fair by about 75% to 25%, that puts Obama on the wrong side by a whopping margin. Again, all these numbers were much worse for John McCain a month or two ago -- despite the fact that this massive registration drive has proceeded apace, and the gap between the number of Democrat and the number of Republicans is not narrowing significantly... whether you measure by actual registration, as the Times evidently did, or by voter perception of their party affiliation, as Rasmussen does.

On a nutshell, in recent elections, the number of registered voters in each party does not appear to correlate to that party's fortunes in the election. I suspect that earlier models that showed close tracking were based upon the correspondingly earlier registration rules, when it actually took some effort on the voter's part to get registered; this meant that back then, a registered voter was much more likely to be politically aware and active, hence more likely to vote. Since motor-voter especially, I believe voter turnout has been lower... as groups like La Raza and ACORN are registering a great many apathetics who simply don't turn out and vote anyway.

So worry not and pay no attention to voter-registration drives among society's dregs; that's not going to have any significant effect on future elections. But what will have a very great effect are the policies and legislation enacted by the two parties... and the campaigns they craft based upon those actual facts on the ground. On that playing field, the GOP is doing much better indeed than in 2006.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 5, 2008, at the time of 7:32 PM

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The following hissed in response by: TerryeL

Well, the voters have to actually vote for it to make a difference. Just registering won't cut it.

A friend of mine was telling me a story about how his father ran a bar in a Democratic town and used to brag about how he delivered votes for Democrats by giving whiskey to all the loyal Democratic voters. Acorn may have moved onto cocaine since then, but there are only so many votes to be delivered in this manner. And these voters are notoriously unreliable.

The above hissed in response by: TerryeL [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 6, 2008 3:34 AM

The following hissed in response by: Karmi

Someone in MSM – during the Bush/Kerry race - once bragged about MSM being able to get something like 10-extra-pts for their candidate. MSM was clearly in the tank for Kerry, and he lost. Same thing may have happened for Gore, but my first vote ever was in the 2002 mid-terms, as a registered Republican. By 2004, I was so disgusted at the weak-kneed Rep Congress that I re-registered as a Libertarian.

Obama and Hillary have fanatical supporters…the Democratic Party has fanatical supporters, and I suspect that a lot of these newly registered voters were pressured into registering. People can be ‘soft-touches’ when they are pressed to do something. Example: Puma PAC is still trying to get Hillary elected, and they are “Prowling” (aka missions) everywhere looking for ways to weaken Obama, so the Democratic Party certainly isn’t as unified as MSM and some polls are showing. (Someone at Puma linked to a post of mine on Democratic Convention CEO Reverend Leah D. Daughtry yesterday, and my site is still getting an explosion of hits…they had posted “Jeremiah Wright in a skirt?” with a link to my site. Gotta love that title!)

If all the reporting that MSM has and is doing on Obama’s behalf were true, Obama would be leading by 99-points in all polls. With 3-months left, more people are paying attention, and the Republicans are finally starting to stand up, e.g. the revolt against Pelosi. Obama’s “tire gage” analogy was a disaster for him, and provides plenty of ammo for the next 3-months. Paris Hilton got involved, and McCain responds that she has a better energy policy than Obama, AND Hot Air responds that she has nearly as much federal legislative experience as Barry O.

Obama is starting to get hit now – he’s even hitting himself with the first punch – and he cannot block or counter the blows. I think that the Dems’ Convention is going to expose their disunity, especially if Obama’s 20-year connection to the Black Liberation Theology (BLT) doctrine gets brought up again. James Cone tried to slip it in as being non-racist (using one of Webster’s definitions of racism), but it clearly is a racist doctrine, and Wright’s rants placed the focus on Wright instead of BLT.

“It is important to make a further distinction here among black hatred, black racism, and Black Power. Black hatred is the black man’s strong aversion to white society. No black man living in white America can escape it…But the charge of black racism cannot be reconciled with the facts. While it is true that blacks do hate whites, black hatred is not racism. Racism, according to Webster, is ‘the assumption that psychocultural traits and capacities are determined by biological race and that races differ decisively from one another, which is usually coupled with a belief in the inherent superiority of a particular race and its rights to dominance over others.’ Where are the examples among blacks in which they sought to assert their right to dominance over others because of a belief in black superiority?…Black Power is an affirmation of the humanity of blacks in spite of white racism. It says that only blacks really know the extent of white oppression, and thus only blacks are prepared to risk all to be free.” (Cone’s Black Theology and Black Power, p. 14-16)

The above hissed in response by: Karmi [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 6, 2008 7:49 AM

The following hissed in response by: Baggi


How much of those registration numbers had to do with the fact that the Republican primary ended early and the Democrat primary carried on and Rush Limbaugh encouraged Republicans to take part in the Democrat Primary?

The above hissed in response by: Baggi [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 6, 2008 8:24 AM

The following hissed in response by: David M

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 08/06/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

The above hissed in response by: David M [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 6, 2008 10:06 AM

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