Unaffiliated registration grows in NC

Posted October 20, 2014

'I voted' sticker

— More than three-quarters of the growth in voter registrations in North Carolina this year was among unaffiliated rather than signing up as a Republican, Democrat or Libertarian. 

This isn't a new trend. Between voters fed up with either party and unsure of which camp they belong in, the ranks of unaffiliated voters have been growing steadily over the past decade.

As this blog, and others, have pointed out before, just because someone chooses not to registered with one party or another, that doesn't mean they don't have strong ideological views or tend to favor candidates of one party or another.

Still, it's worth noting that there are four counties – Currituck, Dare, Transylvania and Washington – where unaffiliated voters are the plurality, outnumbering both Republicans and Democrats. In several other counties, including Wake County, there are more unaffiliated voters than one of the major parties. 

Voter registration totals

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Source: N.C. Board of Elections

Political pundits are quick to point out that unaffiliated voters aren't always the most reliable over voters. Typically, those who have registered with a partisan affiliation are more reliable on Election Day.

While early in-person voting doesn't begin until Thursday, North Carolina voters have already begun to cast ballots by mail. While unaffiliated voters aren't quite keeping pace with their partisan counterparts, they aren't far off. 

Unaffiliated voters, who make up a little more than a quarter of the electorate, have requested and returned a little less than a quarter of all absentee ballots as of the morning of Oct. 10. Of course, the data can't tell us who those voters are backing or what has motivated them to vote. Still, it's some indication that unaffiliated voters aren't quite as tuned out this year as the conventional wisdom might suggest. 

Also of note: Republicans make up 30 percent of all registered voters but are more than 38 percent of those who have returned mail-in ballots so far. 

Ballots requested and returned mail-in ballots

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This table shows the number of ballots requested and returned by voters of each political affiliation. The percentage is the share of the early ballot requests and returns from each category of voter. 

Source: N.C. Board of Elections, Oct. 10 2014. 


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  • SaveEnergyMan Oct 22, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I'm registered UNA as well and my mailbox overflows with junk daily. I know I an single-handedly keeping my mail carrier employed at whatever the bulk rate is for sending flyers. The postal service has to love elections!

    The only real winners this fall are the TV stations that rake in huge $$$ for broadcasting the lies on both sides.

  • Thomas Fenske Oct 22, 2014
    user avatar

    Once again, affiliation does not belong on the registration. It is an antiquated notion and although it might mean something to the parties themselves, as far as voting is concerned it only affects the primary. I've lived in other states ... affiliation is generally established by voting in the primary, not by registration. In NC one can ONLY vote in the affiliated party's primary. Unaffiliated may CHOOSE to vote in the primary of their choice, but the unaffiliated voter is limited to that party if there is a runoff. Beyond that, as far as the voter is concerned, this affiliation designation really means nothing. In the general election you can vote for anyone.
    The real question should be: Does this even belong on the form? No.

  • Objective Scientist Oct 21, 2014

    ...continuation of last comment: I am as passionate about my positions on political matters as anyone... even the wingnuts on either end of the spectrum... well, maybe not quite THAT much! LOL! However, as an INDEPENDENT I think through each position on a stand-alone basis... without being influenced by the political party that espouses it!

  • Objective Scientist Oct 21, 2014

    I began a friendship with a lady recently who absolutely INSISTED that "moderates" or "middle-of-the-road" people were "wishy-washy" and simply could not make up their mind on anything, and who stood for nothing. While acknowledging that there are indeed such people - wishy-washy/stand for nothing - I explained that there are people who consider themselves "middle-of-the-road" who may very likely be registered as "unaffiliated", who are very knowledgable about the political issues and have very strong feelings/opinions/positions on almost all issues. If those feelings/opinions/positions were given appropriate labels of conservative or liberal it may be that there is a balance of conservative and liberal positions... or if not a true balance, the person is clearly neither Democrat nor Republican! To me... that is the essence of an "independent thinker", with at least some pragmatic thought thrown into the mix. How anyone can buy into - 100% - what any one party supports is beyond me!

  • Ray Ubinger Oct 21, 2014
    user avatar

    If by viable you mean on the ballot and therefore voters are able to put him in office, then there's Libertarian Sean Haugh. His main planks are to stop all war and to stop spending more money than we have.

  • dwntwnboy2 Oct 21, 2014

    Neither party has a lock on good ideas. Where is a VIABLE third party candidate when we need one!!

  • Brian Jenkins Oct 21, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Im proud to be a fiscally responsible, socially tolerant Libertarian.

  • GK N.Ral Oct 21, 2014

    No one wants to admit an affiliation with any of the major political parties. We are ashamed to admit that we are a Democrat or a Republican. The people holding office have brought us to this point.

  • moonpie Oct 21, 2014

    My wife is registered unaffiliated. She gets junk mail from BOTH parties.....lots of it....almost every day.

  • hiko Oct 21, 2014

    I just registered as an unaffiliated voter as well.

    To anyone who actually cares about this state (Those who do not vote straight ballet for one political party) here is a tool that will help you choose which candidates you would like to vote for based on their positions.

    Just click "meet the candidates on your ballet."

    Don't fall for any of the junk you hear on commercials. Vote using your mind, not your television.