Local Politics

White men casting early votes in droves

Posted October 18, 2010 3:39 p.m. EDT
Updated October 18, 2010 6:42 p.m. EDT

— After three days, one-stop early voting is on a record-setting pace for a midterm election, and white Republican men are leading the way in casting early ballots, according to an analysis by Democracy North Carolina.

The nonpartisan political watchdog group says the total number of Republicans who voted between Thursday and Saturday still trailed Democrats statewide by about 4,300. Yet, the margin is significantly smaller than the 3-1 ratio Democrats held in 2008.

“Early voting doesn’t favor one party or another, but reveals who’s most organized and enthusiastic about making their voices heard,” Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, said in a statement.

In 2008, black Democratic women led all groups in the 17-day early voting period, helping to propel Barack Obama to a surprise victory in North Carolina, the group said.

"It's a dramatic change, very illustrative, very symbolic of the times," Hall said.

So far, 72,173 voters have cast early ballots, which more than doubles the number cast after the first three days of early voting in 2006. Two years ago, more than 266,000 voters crowded one-stop centers in the first three days of early voting.

White men registered as Republicans cast more than 14,700 of the votes so far, followed by 12,250 white Republican women, according to Democracy North Carolina.

"As an indicator, we're seeing a higher proportion of Republicans who are voting earlier than they certainly did in 2008 and (higher) comparative to Democrats," Hall said.

"I think we're going to do good," said Charles Rhodes, a Republican who cast his vote Monday at the Wake County Board of Elections office. "We've lost touch with reality – the white male. We kind of take care of everybody, (and) we just don't like what's going on."

White men registered as Democrats have cast about 10,000 early votes, and white Democratic women about 10,200, the analysis shows. Black voters lag behind in early voting this year, with 4,500 men and 6,400 women casting ballots.

"The Republicans are more motivated to vote," GOP strategist Carter Wrenn said, noting pent-up anger over President Obama's policies.

Still, Wrenn said, early voting is only suggestive of what's going to happen, and there's little certainty in politics.

"The truth is, they're all signs," he said. "These are favorable signs if you're a Republican, but they're still only signs. They're not the final word."

Mae Williams Banks said she hopes her fellow Democrats will have a say in that final word on Election Day, like they did two years ago.

"If you're going to stay true, stay true," Banks said. "That's what I want people to understand. If you're going to vote one time, you should vote every time."

Brunswick County registered the most early votes, and Chatham, Johnston, Wayne and Wilson counties also ranked among the top 10 counties for most early votes through the first weekend.

Early voting continues through 1 p.m. Oct. 30. Counties have different schedules, including multiple locations and evening hours in some cases, and a complete list of sites and hours is available at the State Board of Elections website.