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March 25, 2008
30,000 Pennsylvanians Register as Democrats in one week
The deadline to change party affiliation in order to vote in the April 22 Democratic primary was yesterday and county registrars across the state were inundated with last minute Republicans and independents seeking to comply with the law in this closed primary state:
At county election boards across the state, lines snaked down hallways as voters rushed to meet last night's deadline for registering to vote in the April 22 primary matchup between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. This is probably good news for Hillary Clinton who has benefitted in past primaries by the increase in Democratic voters.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of State, 19,639 new voters signed up in the period between March 10 and 17, the latest statewide data available. Of those, 14,256 registered as Democrats.
Also, 29,060 people changed their party affiliation to Democrat in just those seven days. That increased the total number of eligible Democrats to 4,044,952, an increase of 4 percent from last November. And those numbers don't reflect the major voter registration push that the Clinton and Obama campaigns waged this past weekend, leading up to yesterday's deadline.
It also doesn't include the crush of applications received by election boards yesterday, many of which added staff and stayed open late to keep up with demand.
The total of Democratic voters is up 4% from just last November to more than 4 million. This spells trouble for the general election as Pennsylvania already had a nearly 2-1 registration advantage for Democrats over Republicans.
However, there are several pockets of Democratic voters who are decidedly more conservative than either of the two Democratic candidates for President which should even the odds somewhat. Pennsylvania is always considered a "Battleground" state even though it rarely goes Republican but this year, with John McCain's demonstrated appeal to independents, the GOP may have a better shot than usual in carrying the state.