by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Republicans have cut the Democratic Party’s voter registration edge in key states, a development President Trump’s campaign views as a hidden advantage as polls show rival Joe Biden growing his lead.
In Pennsylvania, the Republican Party has sliced the Democrats’ dominance with registered voters by nearly 200,000 since Election Day 2016. The Republicans also made up ground in North Carolina, reducing the Democrats’ superiority among registered voters by 243,000 compared to four years ago. In Florida, the GOP chopped the Democratic advantage by 154,000. In Iowa, the Republicans turned a nearly 15,000 voter registration deficit on March 1 into a 13,000 lead on Thursday.
Biden has increased his lead nationally and improved his standing in critical battleground states, according to polls released after the first presidential debate and in the aftermath of Trump contracting the coronavirus. But the Trump campaign is excited about the results of voter registration efforts amid a disruptive pandemic, saying the legwork puts the president on track for reelection.
“Part of voter registration is simply harnessing enthusiasm,” said Nick Trainer, the Trump campaign’s director of battleground strategy. “There is a knock-down, drag-out part of registering voters, and it’s time-consuming. But you can’t register them if they’re not enthused about your party or your candidate.”
Charlie Gerow, a Republican operative in Pennsylvania, said the vast improvement in GOP registration figures is directly related to enthusiasm for Trump and cannot simply be explained by voters adjusting their registration to match party preference.
“Some of these registrations are, in fact, Democrat crossovers from people who have been voting Republican for a while,” Gerow said. But that doesn’t explain the massive change in Pennsylvania, he said. “Many are new registrants as well as a significant number who are registering Republican specifically because of Donald Trump,” Gerow said.