Fewer registered voters identify with the Democratic Party in the states that will likely determine who will be the next president, according to a new report by Third Way, a centrist think tank.
Democratic registrations are down 5.4 percent in eight of the 12 expected 2012 election “swing states” – or states that could go for either candidate – while Republican registrations are down only 3.1 percent and independent registrations are up 3.4 percent.
Those eight states have closed primaries or caucuses, meaning voters must identify their party when registering to vote, thus making it possible to observe voter identification patterns. In the other four swing states, in which you do not have to identify your party when you register, Third Way estimated partisan support with 2010 election results.
The eight swing states where party registrations are identifiable are: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
The other four swing states are: Michigan, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. Exit poll data from these states show the proportion of the electorate identifying themselves as Democrats decreased by five percentage points while the number of Republicans grew by two percentage points and the number of independents grew by one percentage point.
Iowa saw the biggest difference in registrations from Democratic to Republican. Democratic registrations decreased by almost eight percent while Republican registrations increased by two percent.
If Obama were to carry the same percentage of Democrats, Republicans and independents with the new registration levels, Third Way estimates, he would only lose North Carolina and would still win the election.
If Obama's performance among independent voters were to mirror that of independent voter support for Democrats in the 2010 election, he would lose Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Iowa and New Hampshire. Ohio and Virginia would be too close to call and determine the outcome of the election.
While the decline in Democratic registrations could be partly due to disillusionment with the Democratic Party after it gained power in 2009, the lack of a Democratic nomination contest likely plays a role as well. Some who are inclined to vote Democrat may not feel the need to register as a Democrat because they know Obama will be their presidential nominee.