As rolls swell, new voters prefer Obama two-to-one

The same day Michelle Obama takes the stage in Boulder at a massive voter registration rally, a nationwide poll shows Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has the backing of twice as many new voters as his Republican rival John McCain.

Colorado’s rolls are swollen this year, up 118,691 between January and the end of August, according to state election records. The vast majority of the new registrants — 74,667 — are Democrats, though the party still lags behind unaffiliated and Republican voters statewide. The deadline to register in Colorado is Oct. 6.

A Wall Street Journal-NBC-My Space survey released Wednesday shows Obama trouncing McCain 61 percent to 30 percent among voters who are registering for the first time or who skipped the last presidential election. Their enthusiasm, however, measured lower than a similar poll of all voters, with 49 percent “very interested” in the election, compared to 70 percent among voters who were already registered.

“Obama’s still got a significant challenge to … get these people to the polls,” said Republican pollster Neil Newhouse, who helped conduct the survey along with the Democratic polling firm of Peter Hart. At the same time, Mr. Newhouse said, “The more these voters are actually voting, the more challenging this election is for McCain.”

The new voters are pessimistic about the country’s prospects, according to the survey. Almost nine in 10 say the country is on the wrong track and more than six in 10 worry their children’s generation won’t be as well off. More than seven in 10 believe the government should do more, but only two in 10 have confidence in the federal government.

Colorado voters can download a voter registration form and mail-in-ballot application here [pdf]. Visit the Colorado Secretary of State Election Center for more voter information, including links to verify registration.

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Ernest Luning

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