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EARLY VOTING: Where things stand heading into Tuesday's vote

Posted November 7

More people have voted already this year – 3,102,725 (2,947,459 early voting, 155,266 absentee) than ALL the people who voted in 2014 – 2,939,767. Voter turnout, already for 2016, is 45.2% of the state’s 6,684,841 registered voters. Total turnout in 2014 was 44.3 percent of the 6,627,852 registered voters.

While some analysts seek to view trends that predict the election outcome, what can be most significant is how early voting totals, particularly to the various campaigns, help focus their election-day get-out-the-vote efforts.

Democrats clearly need to concentrate on African-American voters, who are lagging behind early-voting turnout in 2012 and will be critical to their candidates' success.

While Republicans make take some heart in the increased GOP turnout, the share of the vote is no better than 2012. While GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney carried the state that year, it was a VERY narrow margin. With GOP incumbents -- Gov. Pat McCrory and U.S.Sen. Richard Burr -- in very close races, the Republicans will probably work to try to increase their share of the total vote.

The wild card is the strong turnout of unaffiliated voters. Unaffiliated voters increased their share of the total turnout in early voting this year. Just who these voters are -- more women than men; more younger than older folks; more suburban than rural -- could sway key races.

Here are some details, via the State Board of Elections:
TOTAL VOTER TURNOUT:

  • 2014 ALL: 2,939,767 – 44% of the registered voters
  • 2016 EARLY VOTING: 3,102,725 – 45% of the registered voters
  • 2012 EARLY VOTING: 2,774,594 – 42% of the registered voters

PARTISAN SHARE OF EARLY VOTE

  • 2016: 42% Democrats; 32% Republicans; 26% unaffiliated
  • 2012: 48% Democrats; 32% Republicans; 21% unaffiliated

EARLY VOTING BY RACE

  • 2016 WHITE VOTERS: 2,193,345 – 46% of total white voters
  • 2012 WHITE VOTERS: 1,870,724 – 40% of total white voters
  • 2016 BLACK VOTERS: 689,368 – 45% of total black voters
  • 2012 BLACK VOTERS: 757,427 – 51% of total black voters

EARLY VOTING SHARE OF PARTY TURNOUT

2016 DEMOCRATS: 1,294,784 – 48% of total Democrats

  • 2012 DEMOCRATS: 1,317,822 – 46% of total Democrats
  • 2016 REPUBLICANS: 989,166 – 48% of total Republicans
  • 2012 REPUBLICANS: 874,205 – 43% of total Republicans
  • 2016 UNAFFILIATED: 808,970 – 39% of all unaffiliated
  • 2012 UNAFFILIATED: 576,273 – 34% of all unaffiliated

Michael Bitzer of Catawba College provides the best and most thorough analysis of early voting trends and patterns. You can find his latest here.

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