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Voter Rosters Show Little Change

Despite the anti-incumbency rhetoric of this election, registration patterns offer scant evidence of voter angst

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ACROSS America today, voters will take their anger and frustration with federal and state governments to the polls - and return most incumbents to office. Despite talk this year about a ``throw-the-bums-out'' mentality among the electorate, a Monitor survey of voter-registration statistics in 10 states shows little change in party preferences. This coincides with other studies and polls that give little evidence of an anti-incumbent revolution.

The Monitor survey shows that in California and North Carolina, the percentages of voters registered as Democrats or Republicans have not changed over the past two years. Republicans picked up two percentage points in Florida, while Democrats fell two points.

The GOP picked up 1 percent from the Democrats in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Republican gains of 1 percent in New Jersey, Ohio, and Oklahoma came from the ranks of previously independent voters. In New York, however, Democrats gained 1 percent at the Republicans' expense.

The most significant voter shifts were found in Massachusetts. Democratic registration in the Bay State fell 4 percent from 1988, while the vastly outnumbered Republicans gained 1 percent. The independent category picked up 4 percent to become the largest ``party'' in the commonwealth. State officials say about 77,000 voters have switched to independent just since the September primary.

Some GOP gains are expected in Massachusetts at the state level. Even so, it appears likely the state's entire congressional delegation will return to Washington.

The 10 states surveyed by the Monitor are the most populous in which voters register by party. Several other states with large populations - including Texas, Illinois, and Michigan - do not have partisan registration.

Richard Scammon, director of the Election Research Center in Washington, D.C., says his review of polls and voter-registration data ``translates into more of the same thing. If there really were a great anti-incumbent surge,'' Mr. Scammon says, ``you would have a Republican majority in the House [of Representatives] and Senate in November. Nobody thinks you'll get that.''

Scammon says he does not believe there will be significant changes in the balance of power in either the House or Senate.


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