The Denver Post just reported that 500 more possible noncitizens are on Colorado's voter lists. This increase happened between a March 8 letter by Secretary of State Gessler to the Department of Homeland Security and this month. And it equals 1.5% of the Democrats added to Colorado's voter lists in the last 90 day. This additional cloud on Colorado's vote integrity really calls into question the quality of Democrat's voter registration efforts analyzed in this column. Have Democrats and fellow-travelers fallen back on their old trick of creating phony voters?
Obama's campaign, purveyed by reporters, says it will boost Colorado's Democratic election participation. “Obama raises the bar” the headline proclaims. They plan to “dwarf” the '08 operation. (Back then, Democratic registration grew at twice the pace of Republican or Independent growth.) Quoting a female volunteer who owns a million dollar range country club home, Obama's campaign will be “more detailed and systematic than last time.” The four pillars of Obama's reelection, as reported? Social liberals, environmental enthusiasts, Hispanics and educated women. (If you don't vote for Obama, you must be uneducated?)
Set the puffery aside. In Colorado, at least, Obama's reality is remarkably unimpressive. With worse to come, national sources report.
In three months of boots on the ground effort, liberal supporters and Obama forces face this:
Without effort Republicans basically matched Democratic registration growth.
In the Colorado media wars, WaPo reports Obama spent $8 million to Romney's side of under $6 million … with this result:
Obama has a slim three point advantage (RCP).
Read on for the gory details. (My job used to be evaluating campaigns' actual efforts … separate from the things they told PACs whose support they wanted. Campaigns always exaggerate, and reporters may lack the time to test their brags.)
Obama faces difficulties – especially with Hispanics
Hispanic voting has been stagnant as a share of all voters, Census numbers show. Hispanic registrants are down. Compared to election participation in 2008, June's Republican active voter registration is down 32,000, but Democrats, of all races and ethnicities, are down 134,000. It's this huge deficit in registered voters that Obama must correct to win.
Hispanic election participation has two measures: intermittent Colorado exit polls (some accessible only through the Wayback Machine) and US Census surveys in each election November. They don't match well. Exit polling shows wide variation. Census data, the last column below, show most Colorado elections have about an 8% Hispanic share of all voters. This stability of Hispanic voting suggests it will be hard to shift the paradigm.
Hispanic Share of Voters
- Election | Exit Poll | Census
- 1996 | 8% | 7.7%
- 1998 | 7% | 6.8%
- 2000 | 14% | 10.2%
- 2002 | N/A | 8.0%
- 2004 | 8% | 8.4%
- 2006 | N/A | 9.1%
- 2008 | 13% | 8.4%
- 2010 | 12% | 7.9%
The Pew Hispanic Center (HT/Mark Hugo Lopez) prepared a detailed report on Census (American Community Survey) data for Colorado. Many Hispanics in Colorado are not citizens and thus ineligible to vote – even with the non-citizen exodus since '08. The Pew data clearly shows that the demographic characteristics of Hispanics (younger, less educated, poorer, lower rates of home ownership) all produce lower election participation rates. (See the table of Census data.)
Colorado Hispanics (,000) in 2010 & 2008
- GROUP | 2010 | 2008
- Population | 629 | 590
- Citizens | 455 | 380
- Registered | 214 | 225
- Voted | 144 | 195
This double whammy makes pollsters' lives difficult. The recent Colorado Marist poll, for example, used a sample that was 16% Hispanic, lower than the 20% from the 2011 ACS, as Marist poll director Barbara Carvalho told me. Marist's samples stick to the gold standard, but over-report Hispanic participation by almost double compared to the last two presidential elections. (And the practical effect of this is to artificially inflate Obama's vote.)
Democrat's Paltry Registration Efforts
Overcoming these dismal facts requires more than talk. The real question: Are Democrats and liberal fellow-travelers engaged in voter registration drives … ones that make a difference? This must occur for Obama to win in November, since Census reported 11,000 fewer Hispanics registered in 2010 than had been registered in 2008. A review of registration change from February (when new district data truly became available) to June of this year will show any Democratic activity, especially if we focus on State House districts.
Registration drives probably occurred in these districts with statistically high Democratic registration gains. The table shows active Democrat numbers (source: Secretary of State):
- District – County | Feb | June | Change
- HD 2 – Denver | 17019 | 18464 | 1445
- HD 5 – Denver | 11754 | 12663 | 909
- HD 6 – Denver | 18460 | 19422 | 962
- HD 7 – Denver | 13630 | 14716 | 1086
- HD 8 – Denver | 22070 | 23405 | 1335
- HD 10 – Boulder | 18356 | 19331 | 975
- HD 13 – Multi | 18422 | 19344 | 922
- HD 14 – El Paso | 4751 | 5182 | 431
- HD 15 – El Paso | 4996 | 5465 | 469
- HD 16 – El Paso | 6768 | 7301 | 533
- HD 17 – El Paso | 5440 | 6130 | 690
- HD 18 – El Paso | 9993 | 10834 | 841
- HD 21 – El Paso | 4505 | 5021 | 516
- HD 42 – Arapahoe | 8436 | 9186 | 750
- HD 46 – Pueblo | 16220 | 17137 | 917
IF the goal were to add Hispanic voters, several of these are sensible. Missing, however, are pieces of Adams County, core Greeley, the San Luis Valley and central Aurora. Some of the El Paso districts (also worked with registration drives in 2010) don't seem likely to boost minority registration. HD 10 and HD 13 (both Boulder) make sense purely for registering Democrats, but not for minorities.
Left-leaning registration drives? Yes. Hispanic registration drives? Not so much. A lack of enthusiastic volunteers for Obama? Gallup just reported that swing state Obama supporters don't match Romney backers in the “extremely enthusiastic” category.
These districts added 12,781 new Democrats and 8,611 Independents. This is one of those “kiss your sister” facts, however.
Statewide Democrats added 33,301 more Democrats with all these seeming registration drives. Republicans, with zero effort, added 32,408 more Republicans statewide. So, after months of effort, Democrats closed the registration gap by fewer than 1,000 new active voters.
What this reminds me of is not Obama in 2008, but Bush in 1992. In that year, too many preppie rich kids thought volunteering meant spending time in the shopping malls, not at the doors or on the phones. The faulty link between these types and working class voters showed in Roper Center data: working class voters' Bush support dropped almost 20% from his 1988 win.
Can wealthy liberal ladies really persuade poor religious Hispanics to vote for the guy who failed to fix our economy? Color me skeptical.
If his lopsided advantage in TV ad buys can't shift Colorado voters decisively to Obama, what happens when Romney's fundraising lets his side reach advertising parity?
In 2010, Colorado's top-of-ticket candidates faced sharp fundraising deficits that doomed their efforts. Republicans won every other statewide race.
Now WaPo says, “it seems likely that Romney will not only be able to equal Obama on air but, with an assist from the Republican super PACs, over take him between now and November 6. And that’s a very scary proposition if you are on the Democratic side of the aisle.”