Registration numbers have been a focus of late, especially in the battleground states.
I can’t speak for how the numbers work in other states, but I do know that if you think that lower numbers of Democrats in North Carolina mean less Democratic votes, you’d be wrong.
The quirky trend of the Old North State for the past two decades or so is that the people migrating here tend to be more reliable Democratic voters than the natives. There was a very good Public Policy Polling study of this in 2008 and what they found holds today. It’s also likely accelerating. The most recent PPP look at the presidential race has the president leading his challenger by a huge margin among the people who have been here ten years or less.
From this month’s Exile on Jones Street Column in the Indy, which came out this week:
Following the rout of 2010, GOP strategists maintained that Obama’s win in North Carolina was an anomaly driven by unusually high turnout. They pointed to a drop in Democratic registrations.
But as the PPP study points out, the people moving here, even independents, are proving to be more reliable Democratic voters than the natives. Born and bred Tar Heels came of age in what was historically a one-party state; if you wanted a say in legislative or county commissioner races, you registered as a Democrat so you could vote in the primary.
That same dynamic identified in 2008 is at play this year. The recent PPP poll on the presidential race notes that Obama and Romney are tied 47-47 for the native vote. The president’s lead can be attributed to an edge among non-native voters, including a 66-to-27-percent lead among those who’ve been here less than 10 years.
There’s a lot of things to note in the registration outlook and the demographic changes, but one that gets little mention is that all the recruiting the state is doing and the new jobs coming to the state â€” our rapid growth over the past 30 years â€” is starting to have a real impact on out politics.