Tracking Green Growth
Green Party Voter Registration & Ballot Status History
By Mike Feinstein, Santa Monica, California
Released July 20th, 2005, Amended July 27th, 2005
Green Party Voter Registration
Trends – A Quick Review
1) Annual totals, April-to-April, 1996-present
For this first comparison, April was chosen for two reasons. One is that November election campaign cycles often begin in the spring, so its good to start with April and then look forward. Two, voter rolls are often ‘cleaned’ in the winter/spring after a November election, of out-of-date registrations. So looking at Aprils can provide a ‘clean’ number to start and end with.
1996 was chosen as a starting year, to coincide with the first national (Presidential) Green Party campaign.
(note, the 4/30/98 number is missing the Nevada total, which we are still awaiting from the Secretary
of State’s office there. That will add approximately another 500 registrations, making the increase about 1,000, rather than the 440)
2) Annual totals,
July to November, Election ‘stretch
For this comparison, a July to November period
was chosen, because the build up right before
a November election
sees the fastest growth. This is particularly the case in even-numbered
years (President, Governor) Less so in odd-numbered
|7/31/96 – 11/30/96||from 94,033||to 112,968||+ 18,935||(20.1%)|
|7/31/97 – 11/30/97||from 113,010||to 109,461||– 3,549||(-03.1%)|
|7/31/98 – 11/30/98||from 115,446||to 123,622||+ 8,176||(07.1%)|
|7/31/99 – 11/30/99||from 121,212||to 129,168||+ 7,956||(06.6%)|
|7/31/00 – 11/30/00||from 141,521||to 202,754||+ 61,233||(43.3%)|
|7/31/01 – 11/30/01||from 219,718||to 232,316||+ 11,699||(05.3%)|
|7/31/02 – 11/30/02||from 249,286||to 276,071||+ 26,785||(10.3%)|
|7/31/03 – 11/30/03||from 286,614||to 301,891||+ 15,277||(05.3%)|
|7/31/04 – 11/30/04||from 301,423||to 317,765||+ 16,342||(05.4%)|
Note – one caveat with the numbers for 7/31/97 to 11/30/97.
In that period, California went down as a result of a cleaning of the voter rolls. But the percentage of the overall total stayed approximately the same. Because California made up so much of the national total at that time, it went down during this period, but should not be construed as a loss of support.
3) A Closer Look at the Period from April 2000 to April 2005
This is the period over our last two presidential campaigns, and also when we accelerated the growth of new state parties.
Part of the growth over these five years came by adding more registered Greens in existing states. The other part came by adding more states in which one can register Green and be counted.
In April 2000, there were approximately 139,354 Greens in 14 states and the District of Columbia. (AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, LA, ME, MA, NV, NM, NY, OR).
In April 2005, there were approximately 284,081 Greens in these same 14 states plus D.C. – an increase of 144,727 (103.9%) in them over the five years.
The other 25,960 current registrants (8.4% of the current overall total and 15.1% of the growth since 2000) came from the other states that have come on-line since then: IA, MD, NE, NJ, PA, UT and WV.
In the case of Iowa, the party is now off the ballot there, and the state government ostensibly isn’t accepting new registrations. Most of the old ones were deleted when the party when off the ballot. But nevertheless the state still lists 67 registered Greens there. Rhode Island had 775 registered Greens before they fell off the ballot after the 11/2004 elections.
When both those states get back on the ballot, that will provide additional growth opportunities. Of the other states in which one can theoretically register Green – KY, NH, NC, OK, SD, WY – the Green Party is not yet a strong presence and does not have ballot status.
It should also be noted that there are different incentives to register Green in different states. In some states, the number of Green registrants is one of the conditions to obtain/maintain ballot status. In others, the number of registrants has no connection to a party’s ballot status, so there is less incentive for the party to reach out and gain new registrants.
4) Caveats in Analyzing Green voter registration numbers
In addition to the internal some state parties have to register people Green, there are also basic technical issues with how each state government compiles its numbers. Different states ‘clean the roles’ in different months, causing state Green Party totals to sink, without necessarily indicating a loss of support for the party itself. Often the percentage of overall voters who are registered Green remains the same when the rolls are cleaned. (Look for this when you examine each state’s totals in the pull down menu on the web site.)
Some state governments only compile totals annually, or a few times a year. Others do it on a regular monthly basis. When analyzing the national totals, there may be quantum changes in one direction or another, that embed trends that have occurred over a long period of time, but show up all at once.
Also, the monthly totals that do come in, often come in late. So when looking at summer numbers for 2005, for example, there are still some states that have not reported yet for May or June, even though we are today in July. Therefore the national totals for those months will change in the future, once those lagging states come in.
A good example of this is Maine, which just reported November 2004 numbers more than eight months later (with a jump of over 5,000 Greens), changing all of the national totals since then, even altering how we analyze those numbers, given how significant the change was.
5) Rise and Fall of the Percentage of Greens in relation to each state’s total
Another major caveat in analyzing at these numbers, is that the overall number of registered voters across the nation keeps increasing with the country’s population.
Therefore, looking at the percentage of the overall total in each state that is Green, is just as important as examing the raw number of Greens.
Below is a quick view of all the states that currently have at least 3,000 registrants (except AZ, for which for more up-to-date numbers are still being sought). State totals are shown for in April 2000 (or later, if they didn’t start registering until after that date), followed by what was their high point since then, and then where they are now.
Some initial inferences that can be drawn from this perspective.
First is that the Green Party is gaining ground in many states that first achieved (or regained) ballot status during this period, or simply became better organized on a state level around 2000 or later – like CO, FL, MA, ME, MD, NV. In these states, there is probably a long growth period before any of them hit a plateau.
By contrast, these is cause for real concern in some key states that have been around for a long time, but are losing ground now insteadof gaining it – in particular AK, CA, NM and OR.
Each of these states, for many years, has been a place of Green strength.
But today there has been a significant drop in each of them from their highest point to where they are today – AK (15.2%), CA (12.8%), NM (28.3%) and OR (17.9%).
In the other two strong Green voter registration states, DC has seen a smaller drop (5%), while Maine continues to grow, and is at its highest point ever.
6) Effects of 2004 presidential race on Green registration totals
I have not yet attempted to analyze in detail how the 2004 presidential race dynamics have played upon the Green Party. That is a complex issue and can be interpreted from many angles, so it will take time to do it responsibly.
For now, it can be observed that the winter/spring of 2004 saw efforts by (mostly) the Dean, Kerry and Kucinich campaigns to reregister Greens into the Democratic Party to vote in the primaries.
What was the effect of this? The raw numbers below suggest some evidence of this, but not overwhelming.
A look at the national Green voter registration point at its highest point in 2003, following the November 2003 elections, and
then at how long it took to get back to that same number of registrants, reveals the following:
In analyzing this change, it must be remembered that during this same period (winter/spring 2004), several states ‘cleaned their voter rolls’ of outdated voter registrations. So part of this drop is attributable to that effect.
For comparison, the drop from 12/03 to 2/04 was 7,332 (-2.4%), while the drop from 12/04 to 2/05, was 3,521 (-1.1%). Adjusting for the overall increase of the number of voters from which Greens were drawing, the 2003-2004 drop compared to 2004-2005 is statistically significant (a doubling), but numerically less so (only 1% greater). This suggests no a widespread ‘defection’ of Greens into the Democratic primaries.
However, an unanswerable question in this analysis is, “how many new Green registrations during these periods came in, compared to how many existing Greens ‘unregistered’ into another party?”
With that question, I leave you to make your own additional speculations. Enjoy.