The commonwealth of Pennsylvania can barely contain its excitement for registering Demcoratic voters:
Democrats saw an increase of more than 500,000 new voters in the last year. Republicans saw their ranks shrink by about 28,000.
Statewide, Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 1,170,000 voters. A year ago, that margin was about 638,000.
There are at least 4,387,027 Democrats, 3,217,464 Republicans and 995,022 independents and members of minor parties.
Wowzers! It’s no surprise then that Barack Obama is pulling away in all of the statewide presidential polls. It’s now double digits in many of them! WTF has gone on in the past 4 years? Well, Democrats have had the numbers in the state for at least 8 years, if not longer. However, many of those registered as Democrat were not ‘strong’ Democrats and didn’t vote party line. This is why the Bush/Gore and Bush/Kerry races were so close and why a guy like Rick Santorum used to be a senator representing Pennsylvania.
However, things have changed. Those who could settle for voting based on social issues or what have you in the 1990s and the early 21st century have seen the economy grind to a halt. This has put this issue to the front of most voters’ minds, and this issue is the bread and butter of the Democratic Party. The great registration drive of Barack Obama (and the intense Obama/Hillary Clinton primary) also helped get people to fill out those voting cards. They ‘created’ new voters and have changed the political landscape of the commonwealth.
Now, it’s up to Obama to capitalize on this, and to bring this down ticket as well. It’s on the state party to transform this huge advantage in registration into a systemic change. Demographic trends will likely cement the southeast portion of the state as the power broker for statewide politics going forward. Ed Rendell’s two terms as governor is evidence of this, and I would bet any amount of money that the Democratic challenger for Arlen Specter’s senate seat is going to come from the 5 county Philadelphia metro. The Republican challenger will definitely be from the area too. And guess what:
Final numbers were available today in Philadelphia. They showed Democratic enrollment growing by 14 percent to nearly 855,000 over the last year, while the GOP’s ranks shrank by nearly 4 percent to about 145,000.
Bucks, Montco and Delco are trending Democratic as well. Considering these counties, along with Chester, Berks, Lancaster and the Lehigh Valley, are the biggest net gainers in population, this bodes poorly for the Republicans. Only Chester and Lancaster are majority Republican counties where large growth is occurring. This election may very well be the last one in which Pennsylvania is considered a ‘swing’ state on a national level.