The 2020 voter registration race
The Trump campaign and RNC have now registered 100,000 new voters in the 2020 cycle, more than doubling their numbers from 2016, according to new Trump Victory data provided exclusively to Axios.
Yes, but: Democrats are still registering new voters in key battleground states.
Between the lines: Trump won Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Arizona and Iowa in 2016, but former Vice President Joe Biden is currently ahead in the polls in all but Iowa, according to FiveThirtyEight.
The voter registration gap between Democrats and Republicans has narrowed in some of these key states, according to Trump Victory and Axios’ reviews of those states records.
- But a lot of it has to do with voters switching parties or dropping out of the electorate — not necessarily a surge of new voters registering as Republicans nor indicating new Trump voters, according to Dave Wasserman of The Cook Political Report.
- Democrats are still registering more new voters than Republicans in many key states.
By the numbers: The Democratic advantage in Pennsylvania has been lessened by 133,000 voters since 2016, and 87,000 voters in Florida.
- But among voters who have newly registered since 2016 in Pennsylvania, Democrats have a 15 point advantage, according to an analysis of a national voter file by Tom Bonier, CEO of the Democratic political data firm TargetSmart. And in Florida, they have a 2 point advantage over Republicans.
- Democrats' net advantage has also shrunk in the tossup state of North Carolina.
- Meanwhile in Arizona and Iowa, Trump Victory says they have managed to slow voter registration momentum behind Democrats.
- In Iowa, the number of registered Democratic voters surpassed Republicans in March, but Republicans recently took back the advantage. Democrats had been outpacing Republicans in Arizona as well — but since April, Republicans have overtaken them.
The big picture: Coronavirus has drastically changed the voter registration game. Activists and volunteers typically focus their efforts on big events, college campuses or other crowded locations. But crowds are rarer in a pandemic.
- 45% of voter registration applications come from the DMV, but even those have been shut down or offer limited services because of the virus in many states.
What to watch: This comes as President Trump continues to rail against mail-in-voting. Many Republican leaders privately admit that absentee ballots are needed to ensure registered Republican voters actually vote, particularly older, white voters.
What they're saying: “As enthusiasm for President Trump continues to grow, so does the Republican Party. Over 100,000 new voters are ready to cast their ballot for four more years of President Trump’s ‘Promises Made, Promises Kept’ agenda, and elect Republicans up and down the ballot on November 3rd,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement.
The other side: Registered voters have to actually cast a ballot in order to make a difference.
- “Across the battlegrounds, the Biden-DNC coordinated campaign is crushing Republicans in key field metrics like vote-by-mail requests, registration and turnout -- and we’re going to keep our foot on the gas so we ensure Trump is a one-term president,” David Bergstein, DNC Director of Battleground State Communications told Axios.
Correction: This article has been updated throughout with additional context. An earlier version did not note Democrats' advantage in new voter registrations, and did not note that changes in net registration can happen for multiple reasons.