The latest voter registration statistics, released Friday by the secretary of state, show that Ventura County is inching up to a milestone in the number of registered voters heading into the Nov. 4 presidential showdown. As of Sept. 5 -- 60 days before the election -- there were 399,317 voters in the county. That surpasses the 398,652 who were on the rolls at the close of registration in the 2004 presidential election. With nearly a month left until the Oct. 20 registration deadline, and with both parties stepping up their voter-registration efforts, it seems likely the 400,000 mark will be surpassed.
The new report also shows the continuation of Democrats' gains in the county. Registered Democrats outnumbered registered Republicans this spring for the first time since the mid-1980s, and Democrats padded their margin by another 1,500 voters between May 19 and Sept. 5. They now outnumber Republicans in the county by 5,638 voters, or 39.7 percent to 38.3 percent.
In the key 19th Senate District, which includes most of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, Democrats cut very slightly into the Republican margin over the summer. The GOP's registration advantage took a tiny dip, from 1.94 percentage points to 1.81 percentage points. In that district, the key state Senate battleground in California this fall, the new report was mostly a status quo report: Democrats picked up 663 voters and Republicans lost 16. This is out of total registration of more than 482,000.