Trump Says He’s Drawn More Voters Than Ever. Here’s What We Found

Voter turnout in a number of states is up, but is Trump the reason?

ByMeghan Keneally
March 14, 2016, 11:26 AM

— -- One of Donald Trump’s frequent talking points is that he has helped expand the Republican party by bringing new voters to the polls, but it's unclear if his candidacy is really the cause.

"We’re getting millions and millions of additional people. People that the Republican party has never had before," Trump said at a press conference this morning.

"I've had so many people tell me, I've never voted Republican in my life. 'I left the Democrats in order to register as a Republican so I could vote for you,'" Trump said today.

Until each state holds its respective contest, it’s impossible to tell if Trump’s claim is true. What can be determined, however, are voter registration numbers.

At least two of the states that are holding their primaries on Tuesday -- Florida and Illinois -- have seen marked increases in the number of registered voters.

According to records from the Florida Department of State, the number of Republicans registered in time to vote in the primary has gone up just over 3 percent since the 2012 election, increasing from 4,137,890 to 4,276,104.

Democrats, however, have seen a slight drop during that same period. Even though there was no primary election in 2012 for the Democrats, the number of Florida residents registered as Democrats has since dropped by 0.2 percent, from 4,581,056 to 4,569,788.

Michael McDonald, an associate professor of political science at the University of Florida, told ABC News that some longtime Democratic districts in Florida, which were closer to the party decades ago, have likely seen an uptick in Republican registrations as a result of the candidates in this race.

That said, the specific candidate they feel passionate for won’t be confirmed until Election Day.

McDonald said that one faction of the electorate that appears to be supporting Trump are "people who are low-propensity voters who do not normally participate in primary voting, and that is unusual."

But Trump's controversial policies have proved to be something of a double-edged sword, according to McDonald, as some of the Republican voters have been driven to the polls in an effort to stop the GOP front-runner.

Essentially, more people may be registering to vote, but it may not be because they are in favor of Trump.

"I would expect the same sorts of dynamics that are moving people to vote against Trump are going to show in the general election as well," McDonald said.

PHOTO: A poll worker instructs voters at a polling station in Warren, Mich., March 8, 2016.
A poll worker instructs voters at a polling station in Warren, Mich., March 8, 2016.
Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images

In Illinois, a total number of 7,650,749 people are registered to vote this year, with an additional 346,416 people registering since 2012, according to state records.

However, only 23 percent of the registered electorate voted in the 2012 primary, 56 percent of whom went for Republicans and 43 percent of whom went for Democrats, even though there wasn’t a formal contender against President Obama.

Trump’s theory may have proved true to some extent in Michigan, where the real estate mogul won the primary this past Tuesday. State records show there was a 32.7 percent increase in the number of registered Republicans that voted compared to the 2012 primary.

Republicans aren’t the only ones who've seen an increase, however. Democrats had a 101 percent increase in the number of votes in this year’s Michigan primary compared to the 2008 race. Even though the number of votes that Hillary Clinton secured went up by 247,203 between the 2008 primary, which she ended up winning, and this year’s primary, she ended up losing to Sen. Bernie Sanders, who got 593,563 votes.

Though voter turnout has been high thus far, there are still 38 nominating contests to go, and we won't know for sure whether Trump's candidacy is truly driving more people to the polls until June 14, when voters in the last state cast their ballots.

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