New Jersey Division of election released new voter registrations statistics today and there were 544K more Democrats registered than last year so now they number 1.68 million in total. Republicans have 1.03 million registered, but the only good news (I guess) was that the number of unaffiliated voters still are the largest group even though they dropped from 2.8 million to 2.2 million. Clearly a large chunk of the unaffiliated voters registered to vote in the Feb. 5th Democratic primary (600K drop in unaffiliated is approximately the total of the number of new registered Democrats (544K) plus the number of new registered Republicans (167K). BTW for you folks keeping score at home, I used the number from June 2007 Registered voters with the June 2008 numbers.
I took a further look at the numbers (just eyeballing it) and the following had significant jumps in Democrat registrations:
- Bergen 103K - 162K
- Camden 88K - 130K
- Essex 150K - 199K
- Middlesex 112K - 162K
OK, so what does this mean to you where voter registration is a key strategy of major political campaigns. Remember a key strategy is to register new voters for your party and they are more likely to vote for your candidates. So it is hard to blow off the new registrations.
Clearly the Democrat Presidential Primary process motivated these unaffiliated voters to participate in the nomination process. So, I'm not sure how much impact on the 2008 Presidential Election it will be. NJ was already a Blue State and based on polls I've seen Obama was already leading Senator McCain. I personally haven't given up the state for the Presidential election because Senator McCain appeals to all types, but then again I'm not involved in those decisions. However, I think the new registrations loom large at the local level. Here's why:
- NJ Republicans will have to motivate their base even more to Get Out The Vote. The Democrats have much larger numbers on their side.
- NJ Republicans will have to come up with new ways of communicating their messages since the typical trickle down approach will be harder (online messaging and communications will be the way to go).
- When faced with a competitor that has larger numbers on their side, you have to be more nimble and smarter to get your message out
- Status quo will not work even for incumbents. Presidential coattails have a habit of drifting downstream so you can't sit back and assume past strategies have worked.
Republicans in NJ have to start using new techniques and tactics to appeal to voters. We need to motivate the base and attract those overwhelmingly large number of unaffiliated voters. It is time to reach out with the internet where we can appeal to many different groups at the same time. Use the political long tail to find many different pockets to appeal to and grab more of those unaffiliated voters because you need to. That even goes for Morris County (where I live) where we have the second largest amount of registered Republicans and we still outnumber registered Democrats by 50%.