Monday, November 28, 2022

Growing & Distinct: The Unaffiliated Voter as Unmoored Voter

The four contributors to this blog--Drs. Michael Bitzer, Christopher Cooper, Whitney Ross Manzo, and Susan Roberts--recently had their research on North Carolina's Unaffiliated voters published in the journal Social Science Quarterly.

Using data from North Carolina's voter registration and history files along with public opinion data from the Meredith College Poll, this academic study points to the idea that Unaffiliated registrants are not simply shadow partisans but, on average, are distinct from the two major parties in terms of demographics, political behavior, and political attitudes. 

The study concludes that voters who eschew party labels are best understood as unmoored voters--often hovering close to their ideological docks but with no institutional constraint to keep them from drifting as the political tides shift.

You can find a link to the full study (in PDF) here at the Social Science Quarterly website

Friday, November 18, 2022

A Purple State, with a Red Tint or a Blue Hue? What Is North Carolina, Politically?

By Michael Bitzer

Since the dust has seemingly settled on 2022, and already we're turning attention to 2024 (yes, I know, I know), the hot takes of what the 2022 mid-term elections are flying fast and furious before we shift our gaze to the next election cycle.

Needless to say, there's a LOT to digest and understand about what this historic election means in the context of what we know about mid-term elections in our politics. My fellow contributors and I have been bouncing ideas back and forth between each other, but the one thing (or more appropriately, the one 'model') that we political scientists tend to rely on for explaining mid-term election is the connection between a president's approval rating and the ultimate number of seats in Congress gained, or more likely, lost. 

In a couple of public presentations made over the election cycle, here's a chart of the president's approval ratings (on the horizontal, or X axis) compared to the number of congressional seats gained or lost (on the vertical, or Y axis):

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

5 Tentative Takeaways from the 2022 Election in NC

by Christopher Cooper

The 2022 election has mostly drawn to a close. I say mostly because we are still waiting on a few more ballots to be counted, provisional ballots to be sorted out, and perhaps a recount or two. Nothing is final until the state canvass on November 29 (county canvass on Nov. 18 is also a key date to keep in mind). See this Hansi Lo Wang piece for a good overview of why these details matter nationally and here for the NC-specific post-election procedures.

Soon after canvass the NC State Board of Election will release an updated voter history file that will include a row of data for everyone who cast a vote in November, 2022. At that point, we'll be able to answer questions about the patterns of who voted (what happened with youth turnout, female turnout, minority turnout, etc.). 

So, I'll pause on all individual level turnout conclusions, but there are a few things that I think are safe to conclude from the data we do have available. If you have not already, I encourage you to first read this excellent wrap-up from Michael Bitzer that lays out a number of important points that I try (with varying degrees of success) to stay away from in what follows. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Some Thoughts about 2022 Election's Aftermath in North Carolina

By Michael Bitzer

As most of my colleagues are probably operating on (lack of sleep and significant sized mugs of caffeine), I decided to take the post-election stab (as Chris Cooper did yesterday for Election Day thoughts) and share some surprises, not-surprises, and things to think about as we further digest and analyze this year's mid-term election.

Nationally: It Was A Much Better Night for Democrats in the Expected "Republican Wave" 

Classic research on mid-term elections tell political scientists and the general public that the president's party will suffer at the polls in terms of congressional seats during a mid-term election.

And indeed, that classic mid-term fundamental played itself in what we know so far (as of 11 AM on Wednesday, Nov. 9): Republicans appear to have picked up enough seats (at least 218) to capture majority control of the U.S. House. 

The U.S. Senate is still up for grabs, and looks like even if Pennsylvania and Nevada switch sides of the political aisle, the nation will take a midnight train to Georgia's run-off election in early December to truly decide the fate of the upper chamber's majority control. 

But in terms of the classic mid-term fundamental, President Biden's 44 percent job approval wasn't the anchor dragging the Democrats down in a number of key races, as expected.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Some Thoughts about the 2022 Election in North Carolina

by Christopher Cooper

What follows is a series of somewhat disjointed thoughts about the 2022 election in North Carolina. Some of these are points that I think have not gotten enough attention. Some are my take on stories you've read before. Sometimes I just repeat things others have said that I thought were particularly smart (with citation; i'm not a monster). All of what follows is meant for people who sometimes think about things other than politics. If the politicos find something interesting here, all the better. But that's not the point.

There's no narrative thread, no organizing theme and no central takeaway to what follows. There's no forecast and no "keys to the election" that await you. Heck, there's not even a conclusion. I hope what follows helps put a few things in context, but I make no grand promises. So, with the worst pitch ever (a career in sales was never in my future), here we go:

Friday, October 28, 2022

Early Voting in NC: Update 6 (now with in-person early results)

 by Christopher Cooper

It's time for another early voting update in NC. But this time we've got some in person results, too. And, in a fortuitous turn of events, today happens to be Vote Early Day. See below for the weekly update. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Mail Voting in NC: Update 5

By Michael Bitzer

As my colleague and ONSP contributor Chris Cooper noted last week, the song of absentee by mail ballots and voting has pretty much stuck to the same tune: impressive numbers surpassing 2018's mid-term election (currently three-times ahead), but (as expected) far below the pandemic-induced mail-in performance of 2020's presidential election.

We've come to the 'semi-end' of focusing just on absentee by mail voting, with North Carolina starting absentee onestop, or more commonly referred as "early in-person" voting, tomorrow (Thursday, Oct. 20) and running through Saturday, November 5th (ending that day at 3 PM). The absentee by mail ballots will still be requested and (possibly) returned and accepted, ending with the 5 PM postmark deadline on November 8. Chris will have both of these numbers following the first week of reporting next Wednesday, but if Georgia first day of early in-person voting is any indication, we will likely see very healthy numbers in that vote method here in the Old North State. 

As a comparison, here are the four major vote methods (both number of ballots and percentages) used in North Carolina's general elections since 2012: absentee by mail; absentee one-stop (in-person, including absentee curbside); Election Day (including curbside); and provisional & transfer ballots. 

Friday, October 14, 2022

Mail Voting in NC: Update 4

By Christopher Cooper

After 35 days of early voting in 2022, the song remains (mostly) the same as it was during the last three weeks of updates. The volume of requested and returned mail ballots remains above 2018 and below 2020, Democrats continue to dominate mail voting, and the demographics are shifting slightly from recent years.

Want details? Of course you do. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

North Carolina's Congressional Analysis for 2022's Election

By Whitney Ross Manzo and Michael Bitzer

With the new (and temporary) congressional map, it may just make sense to say “here’s what we know for this coming election—after Nov. 8, all bets are off” kind of approach when it comes to analyzing the U.S. House of Representative districts for the upcoming general election. 

In conducting our some of our analysis, we utilized the "Big 3" combined election results from 2020: U.S. president, U.S. Senate, and the N.C. governor's contests. Taking the precinct results from these three and assigning them into the Interim Congressional District Map, we arrive at a spread of the congressional districts, from strong Republican to most competitive to strong Democratic (we define "strong" as being 60 percent or over for one party; "likely" for one party as between 55-59 percent for that party; and "competitive but lean to one party" as 50-54 percent for that party, based on the combined results for the three 2020 contests). 

Using this combined 2020 election results, we can then classify what might be the potential voting 'behavior' of the congressional districts, with an understanding that past NC voting patterns are very close in relationship to future voting patterns.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

"Learn About Voting in NC"

This is a great public service by ONSP Contributor Dr. Whitney Ross Manzo in collaboration with Dr. Rebecca Kreitzer of UNC-Chapel Hill. We hope citizens, both in North Carolina and across the nation, will take a moment to learn more about their voting opportunities and the 'rules of the game' when it comes to casting a ballot.

The website is: