As I stated in my earlier post on Florida, I am attempting to do a 'sanity check' on the state level polls coming out recently. A surprisingly large number of them seem to have results outside the realm of probability, so I decided to see if I could find predictive data outside of polling to see what it might tell us.
What I have stumbled upon is a comparison of historic voting patterns among various large segments of registered voters, with current voter registration. With Florida, I compared historic voting patterns of registered Democrats with that of registered Republicans and using those to forecast a vote using current registration levels.
Unfortunately, Ohio does not post these types of data, so I have to use a slightly different method - comparing the voting history of various counties with the current number of registered voters in those counties. Certain counties have historically been much more Democratic oriented and others have been more dominated by Republican voters. To the extent that this pattern holds, you can estimate which party is better situated this year than in previous elections. This is somewhat more labor intensive than was the case with Florida, but I think that it is similarly helpful.
There are 88 counties, so I will be focusing on some of the largest counties to see if we can see evidence for which way this election will be going compared to 2008.
Obama won Ohio by 262,000. Cuyahoga county by itself provided Obama with more than 258,000 of that advantage. So what is going on there this year? This is the total registered voters as of 9/7/12:
Democrats - 346,642 38%
Republicans - 126,280 14%
Other - 431,372 48%
Looks pretty dreadful for Republicans, right? Well ... in comparison to 2008, its actually a huge improvement. Voter registration figures for November 2008 show:
Democrats - 395,514 36%
Republicans - 91,416 8%
Other - 625,527 56%
Total - 1,112,507
In their most important county, Democrats have suffered a net loss of over 83,000 from their advantage in registered voters, from an advantage of 304 thousand in 2008 to an advantage of 220 thousand earlier this month.
Does this indicate a state that is going to be MORE favorable to Obama this year vs 2008 as many polls are showing, or one that is going to be considerably LESS favorable?
I had planned to do the same comparison for other counties (Franklin and Lucas counties in particular), but I can't find similar data on their websites. However, there is a recent Fox News story which details the declining registration in Democratic strongholds in Ohio including not just Cuyahoga but Franklin and Hamilton. Interestingly, they mention that this decline in Democrat standing is holding over at least 8 'key' swing states including Iowa, Florida, and New Hampshire.
This simply makes sense - Obama has been a disaster, and 2008 was a Democratic wave. How on Earth could he improve substantially in swing states as many polls are stating? In the real world, Republicans are increasing their number of registered voters in these swing states, while registered Democrats are declining.
Who are you going to believe, common sense plus data on literally millions of American voters actual actions, or are you going to believe divergent polls based on merely thousands of respondents (with highly debatable samples)?
UPDATE: As I said, I wasn't able to get the same information from other counties, but I was able to download a CSV file from Hamilton County with the current registration figures. In 2008, Obama won Hamilton County by 7 %, nearly 30,000 votes - 225,213 to 195,530. Hamilton County currently shows a total of just of 554,000 registered voters. What is really interesting is that right now, by sorting the 'party code' column, I see that registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats by more than 2 to 1 (though they are both swamped by officially unaffiliated voters). There appear to be a total of just 43,932 registered Democrats in the county vs 97,419 registered Republicans.
UPDATE 2: I have now downloaded a voter registration file from Franklin County, and it's more of the same. Keep in mind that it is of limited utility since I can't compare it to registration data as of 2008, and the unaffiliated voters make up the biggest percentage by far. With those caveats in mind, there are over 791,000 registered voters in Franklin County. Of those, 102,605 are registered as Republicans, while there are only 67,915 registered Democrats (leaving over 620,000 to the smaller parties and 'non affiliated'). This is in a county that Barack Obama won by 116,000 votes (over 20 percentage points 59.6 to McCain's 38.9).