How does 2016 voter registration compare to 2012?

Bryan Whitaker and Chris Brill

Smartshot-upward trend
Every Presidential election year we get asked, “What does the general electorate look like?” and “How does voter registration look compared to the last Presidential election?”


Good news. TargetSmart is starting what we call “The SmartShot,” our weekly analysis of the voter file that will show trends in voter registration, early voters and absentee ballot voters, and ultimately what the American electorate looks like heading into Tuesday, November 8th.


SmartShot Logo


For The SmartShot, we’ll be setting a baseline for our ongoing analysis by using VoterBase, the most accurate and frequently updated voter file on the planet.


Looking back at our 2012 VoterBase files, we found 184,960,728 registered voters. As of today, our 2016 VoterBase files say there are 197,780,769 registered voters in our country. So, overall, voter registration rates are up and it’s evident 2016 is seeing more voter registration activity happening. In fact, the 2016 cycle is on pace to seeing 200,000,000 unique registered voters.


Comparing the rate of voter registrations hitting the 2016 state voter files, this rapid pace of voter registrations is apparent. As of this week, there are 14,161,274 new or updated voter registrations on the file in 2016 alone, and comparing to the same timeframe in 2012, there were only 9,718,877 new or updated voter registrations. If you look at every new voter registration that hit the voter file in 2012 before election day – we’ve already reached 102.7% of that number as we head into this year’s election.


Below you’ll find a state by state comparison of critically contested Battleground states and how close each state is towards reaching the total number of new and updated voter registrations that appeared in 2012. None of these states have been updated for the last time this cycle, and yet in some states new voter registration in 2016 has already exceeded all of 2012. As the final pre-Election day version of each state’s voter file comes in we expect these percentages to continue to rise.




ABOUT BRYAN WHITAKER | Chief Innovation Officer, TargetSmart | @whitakerb2
Bryan is a leader in non-profit information and communications technology management striving to use data, analytics and innovative software to change the world. Bryan is the former COO of NGP VAN and was the Director of Technology at the DNC during President Obama’s re-election campaign. For more on Bryan, you can read his full bio here.


ABOUT CHRIS BRILL | Senior Data Analyst, TargetSmart
Chris Brill has a knack for looking at voter information, identifying trends and being able to use all the data he has culled to help political campaigns be more successful. Chris is the former voter file director for the Arizona Democratic Party and was the National Data Director at the DNC. For more on Chris, you can read his full bio here.