Voter registration surging across the US, tilting to the Democrats in many places

There are a number of stories in the news this week reporting surging voter registration rolls across the US, and an apparent shift towards the Democratic party in many states.

Here’s one from the Chicago Tribune, “Wisconsin voters register in record numbers. This article reports that “About 135,000 residents have registered to vote for the first time since the beginning of this year, bringing the total number of voters to more than 3.4 million, he said. Another 169,000 have updated their registration with their current address or new name.”

Here’s another from San Diego County, “Region: A changing political landscape”. This article noes that “The number of registered Democrats in San Diego County has pulled within two percentage points of Republicans, narrowing a historically larger gap that has shown a perennial GOP dominance.”

And more from Nevada, where after a recent pre-primary close of registration:

Going into the close of registration, more than 105,000 new voters had registered around the state. Those new voters have made a significant change in the state’s political landscape — a change that favors Democrats over Republicans, who held a statewide registration edge in 2004.

Between June 2007 and June 2008, the Democratic registration advantage grew from 12,403 statewide to 72,129. As of June 30, the secretary of state’s office reported 559,814 registered Democrats and 487,685 Republicans registered to vote in Nevada.

There’s a story on the national picture in the New York Times.

And a very interesting commentary by Michael McDonald, from George Mason University, “Is America in the Midst of a Realigning Election?” McDonald tries to put this all in historical perspective, and argues:

A number of signs indicate that such a profound realignment may be underway. Perhaps the most important indicator is the distinct age gap that has emerged between Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain’s supporters. These younger Obama supporters comprise many of the new Democratic registrants that are spoken of in the New York Times article. Much of the difference we are seeing in battleground states from the 2004 and 2000 elections, where Obama is competitive in some surprising western states and McCain in some northeastern states, can be attributed to their younger and older electorates.

Interesting portents, indeed!