Local Politics

Unaffiliated Voters Could Swing N.C. Primaries

Posted April 14, 2008
Updated April 15, 2008

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— About one-fifth of North Carolina's 5.7 million registered voters aren't Democrats or Republicans, and politicians are working hard to sway the growing bloc of unaffiliated voters.

Unaffiliated voters can choose a primary in which to vote in North Carolina, and thousands of voters have switched their enrollments in recent months to be eligible to vote in the Democratic presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

According to the State Board of Elections, about 12,600 voters switched from Republican to unaffiliated or to Democrat from January through the end of March. Meanwhile, about 6,000 switched their enrollments to the GOP.

In previous elections, most unaffiliated voters cast ballots in North Carolina's Republican primary, but the Obama-Clinton contest is expected to reverse that history this year while also generating record voter turnout.

Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, who is seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination, said heightened interest in the Democratic presidential primary could cost him independent votes he has traditionally attracted.

"It does concern me because the national media is making the North Carolina election on May 6 seem like the only thing on the ballot is Obama and Hillary, when it's not," McCrory said.

Damon Circosta, director of political programs and operations for the North Carolina Center for Voter Education, said unaffiliated voters were on the upswing before attention became focused on the presidential primary.

"Long-term unaffiliated voting is on the rise either because people are disenfranchised with the political parties as they are or they want more choice in voting," Circosta said.

North Carolina State University senior Randy Freeman fits that description.

"I just didn't want to be pinned down to one party and (wanted to) pick who I like the best," Freeman said.

Democratic consultant Brad Crone said candidates must reach beyond the party base.

"(The trend) clearly shows both parties are going to have to compete for their votes," Crone said. "It's going to create a huge shift in state politics because the independent voters are more middle of the road."


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  • doodad Apr 15, 2008

    "IF they support her JUST because she's a woman"

    I could add to that comment but I won't.

    McCain/Lieberman 08'

  • bs101fly Apr 15, 2008

    IF you're a Hilary supporter I think you may very well need someone to tell you who to vote for and Hilary ain't it!!!!!!!!!!!
    It will be the clueless women voters that help implode this country IF they support her JUST because she's a woman!!!!
    Time can wait for the first woman, this country can't take another criminal Clinton at the helm!!!!

  • bettyboopr2 Apr 15, 2008

    Have always been unaffiliated. Don't need someone to tell me who to vote for.

  • The Fox Apr 15, 2008

    Hey Yellow, me too. I figured the Dems were yucking it up by voting for McCain early on, so I plan on returning the favor.

  • Yellow Rider Apr 15, 2008

    I changed my registration to unaffiliated so I could vote in the Demo primary. Personally, I think it's funny to allow people outside your party choose your party's candidate, but if that's what they want to do, more power to me.

  • CestLaVie Apr 15, 2008

    That's me, that's me!! Changed to unaffiliated after the last local election. Fed up with party politics. Fed up with politicians. Fed up with a certain candidate's party machine that keeps calling - won't get my vote - don't like & am tired of lawyers & their manipulations of our legal system today, and don't like developers!!!!

  • RocknRollDoctor Apr 15, 2008

    It's interesting that so many poeple have gone the unafiliated route. I made the change more than a decade ago. The polarization of the parties since the introduction of 24 hour news networks drove me to make the change. At the end of the day, there is very little difference between these self serving, egomaniacal, career politicians. I'll vote for the "person" regardless of party afiliation.

  • alx Apr 15, 2008

    i changed affiliation just so i could vote against hillary. hehe

  • Adelinthe Apr 15, 2008

    Why on earth isn't everyone unaffiliated? Why can't folks think for themselves enough to vote for the individual, not the party?

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • Gnathostomata Apr 15, 2008

    "Long-term unaffiliated voting is on the rise either because people are disenfranchised with the political parties as they are or they want more choice in voting," Circosta said.

    Amen, and Amen. Finally, someone gets it.