Monday, October 29, 2012

All eyes on Pennsylvania...

...  for all sorts of reasons.  Just fyi, but 538 has gotten around to parsing the stats on the political landscape in Pennsylvania. Can we add to that?

So last week I had a post on the history of new registrations in Pennsylvania by party.  It seemed pretty clear that for at least new registrations Democratic Party applications were much higher than Republican Party appplications. I didnt realize that the same day the Trib has a story looking at some slightly different statewide data and came to a very different conclusion. See: More Dems left party than GOP, state election data show

Data.... data.. and more data.  What does it all mean? So confusing.

This actually is interesting.  So the Trib story looked at voter registration party switchers (D to R and R to D) cumululatively over the last 4 years since December 2008. I think the data they compiled (from the Pennsylvania Secretary of State online here) is this:

So since 2008 there has been a registration edge for R's becoming D's, but in the last week it is working the other way.

So what I wonder is... is the comparison of registration from just 4 years earlier to now a good way to judge the trend?   Anyone remember the Limbaugh effort to get Republicans to register as Democrats for the Pennsylvania Primary in 2008.  From 4 years ago and the CNN version, though there were tons of other coverage: Rush Limbaugh urges vote for Obama.   The theory there was that El Rushbo wanted Obama to win because he would be the weaker candidate in the fall against McCain.   Whatever the reason, he clearly was pushing for Republicans to switch registration for Pennsylvania's closed primary to Democratic.   The only question was how many actually took up the Limbaugh directive.

So going back to 538 today. The talk about registration a bit, but basically link to the general PA Secretary of State page which is only so useful in itself.  Below is my compilation of the historical data.

It really is hard, if not impossible to judge Rush's impact in itself from the aggregate data. But there was a big surge in Democratic party registrations 4 years go. Over 500K new Democratic party registrations in 2008 compared toa loss of over 2K Republican party registrations. Over 60 percent of those new D registrations came before the primary, but it is impossible to know from the aggregate data if that was because there was a very contested primary some recall, or those who took Rush's direction and registered as a D to influence the result for contrary reasons.  No matter what, one thing is true that there was not a contested Democratic party primary 4 years later. You need to factor that in when thinking about the trend over 4 years.

Hey.. I wonder if someone could poke at the individual voter PA Secretary of State data to come up with an estimate of how many Republicans switched from R to D leading into the 2008 primary and then switched back to R over the next year? Maybe someone has done that already?

Anyway.. the history of voter reigstration in Pennsylvania. Interpret as you will:


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