Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fun With Early Voting in North Carolina

In person early voting begins today here in the great state of North Carolina.

But let’s have some fun with the state’s early voting so far. This means only absentee votes at this point.

These numbers were pulled from the NC Board of Elections, and are current as of Sunday, September 14. The 2008 numbers I will be using are from George Mason University’s United States Elections Project.

Off we go!

Total Votes: 50,674
Dem: 13,887 - 27.4%
Rep: 27,455 - 54.2%
Unaffiliated: 9,255 - 18.3%
Libertarian: 77 - 0.2%

Compare that with 2008:
Dem: 51.4%
Rep: 30.2%
Other: 18.5%

The 2012 numbers are breakouts by registration, not by vote cast (of course, you can't vote for unaffiliated!). But certainly if some assumptions are made -- it appears there has been a complete flip of the parties, at least at this point. But we are in the early part of early voting.

Notably, the black vote makes up 7.1% of the 2012 early vote total -- 23% of the Democrat vote and 0.2% of the Republican vote. In 2008, they were 27% of the total early vote.

It remains to be seen if this is evidence of blacks staying home, or if they are less enthusiastic to get votes in early but will still vote when all is said and done.

One interesting contrast specifically is Cumberland County. Cumberland was a 52-48 state for Bush in 2004, and a 59-41 state for Obama in 2008. In fact, in 2008 Obama picked up a net of 26K more votes in Cumberbland County compared to Kerry in 2004. And remember, North Carolina was a state Obama won by only 14K votes statewide.

The registration breakdown for early voting in Cumberland County so far is...
Dem: 33%
Rep: 47%
Unaf: 19%

And another interesting contrast between 2012 and 2008 is Durham County. This is the home of, well, Durham which is home of Duke. It's a Democrat stronghold.

Durham is the 6th largest county in NC by population. In early voting, it's 17th in terms of ballots cast.

In 2008 Durham County went 74% Obama, 26% McCain

Early voting so far...
Dem: 46%
Rep: 31%
Unaf: 23%

And finally, Iredell County is the 16th largest county by population. In early voting, it's 8th in terms of ballots cast.

In 2008 Iredell County went 62% McCain, 37% Obama

Early voting so far:
Dem: 15%
Unaf: 19%

How fun was that? The numbers look good for Mitt Romney and rater dire for President Obama.

However, let’s be clear that we can't claim these numbers as predictive. The comparisons I am making are between absentee ballots cast by party affiliation at this point in the election versus all early voting in 2008 by actual votes. Professor McDonald at the US Elections Project site does a much more thorough job of not only tracking the early numbers for this and past elections, he is able to do a “on this date in 2008” comparison. I would strongly suggest anyone wanting a real comparison between elections to go to his site.

That said, having seen the news yesterday that Obama is likely shifting resources and efforts away from North Carolina – numbers like these become another data point to consider that reinforces the idea that Mitt Romney is increasingly likely to win the state.

I wouldn’t mind not being one of the hotly contested battleground states, and I certainly would have no beef if the unrelenting number of campaign ads were trimmed as a result. Then again, if Obama wants to continue pouring money into a state he has a diminishing chance of winning at the expense of more time in states more closely contested, well, I will bear that burden for the cause. Besides, I know how to operate a remote control.

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