BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo political scientist
Joshua J. Dyck, Ph.D., says that Democrats and Republicans would be
wise to concentrate on registering new voters right now because
late registrants are more likely to vote in national elections than
those who register early.
"Because the presidential race is shaping up to be close,
turnout could very well be the deciding factor again as it was in
2000," Dyck says, "and if a party can win the turnout battle,
swinging a swing state is possible."
Dyck, assistant professor of political science at UB, bases his
assumptions on a study of voter participation in the 2000
presidential election, which he conducted with colleagues at the
University of Maryland and the University of Texas.
"The study found that people who register to vote closer to
registration deadlines are much more likely to vote on Election Day
than are people who register earlier in an election year," he
"So the takeaway message for political campaigns focused on
get-out-the-vote efforts is -- you'll get more bang for your buck
if you focus on the narrow window close to the registration
deadline, which is coming up in the next two weeks in most
"That's where we see a huge surge in voter registration and
those people are much more likely to turn out to vote," Dyck
"The findings from our paper suggest that there is a fertile
ground in registering new voters in the weeks leading up to the
closing deadline, which is the first week of October in many
"Voters registered in the course of an election campaign are
more regular voters than those who registered during the course of
the year at the DMV, etc.," he says.
"Given the scores of new voters brought into the primary process
through the competitive and historic Democratic race, it will be
interesting to see if these folks turn out on election day. The
fear for Obama has to be that many young voters registered in the
spring are college students, who are notably transient.
"If they changed residences, or moved after graduation, bringing
them into the fold during the primary may be insufficient to get
them to turn out in the November election."
The study found that people who registered to vote the week of
the registration deadline were 16 percent more likely to vote than
those who registered one year from the deadline. Of the late
registrants, young adults were 15 percent less likely to vote than
older adults, and women were more likely than men to turn out.
Across all counties studied, an average of 125 percent more
registrants signed up in the three weeks prior to the deadline than
in all previous weeks.
The researchers also found that Republican late registrants were
much more likely to vote than late-registering Democrats. The study
showed that in most places where Democrats "won" the election in
2000, they had to register many more people than the Republicans
because the GOP's new registrants appeared to vote at almost twice
the rate as new Democratic registrants. Late registrants from both
parties were more likely to vote than independents.
Dyck's co-researchers were James G. Gimpel, Ph.D., professor of
government at University of Maryland, and Daron R. Shaw, Ph.D.,
associate professor of government at University of Texas.
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