Democrats tout growing registration advantage

Nevadans who want to vote in the Aug. 12 primary have until 9 p.m. today to register with their county clerk.

They will join the more than 105,000 new voters who have registered over the past year, bringing the total number on the rolls in Nevada's 17 counties to more than 1.3 million.

And those new voters have made a significant change in the state's political landscape, a change that favors the Democratic party.

Between June 2007 and June 2008, the Democratic registration advantage grew from 12,403 statewide to 72,129 " an increase of nearly 60,000. As of June 30, the Secretary of State's office reports 559,814 registered Democrats and 487,685 Republicans registered to vote in Nevada.

And that increase isn't just located in southern Nevada. Kirsten Searer of the state Democratic Party in Las Vegas said those gains are statewide, giving the party a better than ever chance of unseating Rep. Jon Porter and a solid chance to take out Rep. Dean Heller as well.

In District 2, now held by Heller, the 46,608 registration advantage the GOP held in June 2007 is now down to 29,429. District 3, held by Porter, now shows a Democratic registration advantage of nearly 24,000. In 2006, Democrats had only 5,000 more registered there than the Republicans and in 2004, the GOP held the advantage.

She said the party also holds a near thousand voter registration advantage in state Sen. Bob Beers' Las Vegas district and a 2,000 vote advantage in Sen. Joe Heck's southern Nevada district. Both were solidly Republican in the 2004 elections.

Searer said those two seats are prime targets this election year.

In 2004, the Republican Party held a statewide registration advantage over the Democrats.

The Democrats got a large boost in voter registration from the January presidential caucuses. But Searer said the registrations didn't fall off when the caucuses ended.

While the Democrats now hold a significant advantage in total registration, there are more than enough voters not registered with either major party to swing almost any election. The largest group there is the 197,196 Nevadans registered non-partisan " always a prime target for candidates.

Carson City Clerk/Recorder Alan Glover said a lot of "new people and young people," registered following the caucuses. Only a few, he said, changed their party registration.

"It'll be interesting to see if they really come and vote," he said, adding that he expects "a pretty good bump in the 18-30 category" when early voting begins Saturday.

Republican Party officials have said they doubt many of those newly registered Democrats will actually show up.

Carson City's total registration grew by nearly 3,000 over the year to 27,073. While Democrats attracted 1,075 more voters, the GOP actually lost 102 in that year. But Republicans still hold a clear registration advantage in the Capital " 12,369 to 9,845.

The same is true in Douglas County, where the number of registered Democrats grew 1,082 compared to just 234 more Republicans. But there are 16,351 registered Republicans there compared with 8,996 Democrats.

In Lyon County, registration also remains solidly GOP although Democrats cut the margin by nearly 400. Total GOP registration there is 13,242 compared with 8,508 Democrats.

Storey County grew by 103 voters over the year. But just 24 were Republicans while 85 were Democrats with losses in non-partisan and minor party registrations making up the difference. Total registration in Storey was 2,788 as of June.

In Churchill County, total voter registration actually fell by 408 to 13,614, But Democrats added 145 to their roll for a total of 3,652 while the GOP saw its total registration in Churchill reduced by 359 to 7,591.

- Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

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