The Democratic and Republican parties are struggling to engage new voters in this year’s presidential race, with an apparent deficit of enthusiasm suppressing the number of people who have registered to vote ahead of the November 6 election.
A Guardian survey of six of the most crucial swing states upon which the outcome of the presidential ballot is likely to depend has found that new voter registrations recorded between January and August this year are markedly down compared with the same period in 2008.
The drop is particularly pronounced in several states for the Democrats — a likely indication that Barack Obama’s re-election team has been unable to match the exceptional levels of voter excitement generated by his candidacy four years ago.The six states included in the Guardian survey — Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia — are all being bitterly fought over by Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney.
Backed by their respective Democratic and Republican parties, both candidates have sought to maximise turnout by running registration drives in an attempt to attract new voters to their cause.
The Republicans this year have also pursued an aggressive policy of challenging voter rolls in an attempt to wheedle out what they claim are fraudulent names.
The Democratic party and voter rights organisations have accused the Republicans of acting maliciously to suppress the number of black, poor, elderly and young people registering to vote.
The biggest decline among registered voters within the surveyed swing states was in Florida. Between January and July this year, the state added 224,750 voters — 82,638 fewer than the same period in 2008.
A similar comparison of the first seven months of 2012 and 2008 shows a dip in voter registrations of 25,486 in Iowa, 23,009 in Virginia, 19,199 in Nevada and 9,566 in Colorado.