Thursday, October 23, 2008

98% Registered to Vote in Michigan

A new record, an amazing number. And one campaign to thank.

A record 7.47 million Michiganians are registered to vote in the Nov. 4 general election, state officials announced Wednesday, including sharp increases in Democratic bastion Wayne County and several college areas where Barack Obama's campaign has been especially active.

That's a 4.6 percent jump from January and represents a whopping 98 percent of the state's voting age population, reported Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land.

Since July, 230,000 new voters registered. For comparison, Michigan's second biggest city of Grand Rapids has a population of around 200,000.

Now it's a matter of turning them out.

Overall, there were four times more new voters in heavily Democratic counties than in heavily Republican counties.

"The registration numbers probably bode well for Democrats," said pollster Bernie Porn of Lansing-based EPIC/MRA, which polls for The Detroit News. "The recent polling shows the odds are that new registrants are helping Democrats here, as in other states."

Tom Shields, Lansing-based political consultant to Republican candidates, said he's never seen a voter registration effort like the one the Obama campaign put together this year.

"They've done a good job of reaching out. That speaks well of the Obama campaign. But now they have to get them out to vote," Shields said.

Given the way the Obama people have run this campaign, there is no doubt that they will have a massive turnout effort as well. The trick on election day will be to keep the lines moving at the polls so people don't get stuck waiting for hours to vote.