Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Follow Up on NC's Registered Unaffiliated Voters: Where Are They?

With some more data crunching, I have looked at the 100 counties and ranked order the percentage of registered unaffiliated voters in each. The below map demonstrates different percentages of unaffiliated voters in each county:

In breaking down the generational cohorts, there are some counties where Millennials are truly driving the rise of unaffiliated registered voter (in the state, an average of 40% of Millennials are registered unaffiliated):


Registered Democratic Registered Unaffiliated Registered Republican Registered Libertarian
TRANSYLVANIA 21% 54% 23% 1%
WATAUGA 25% 50% 23% 2%
HENDERSON 18% 50% 31% 1%
JACKSON 26% 50% 23% 1%
SWAIN 29% 50% 20% 1%
DARE 22% 49% 27% 2%
CURRITUCK 14% 48% 36% 1%
ORANGE 39% 48% 12% 1%
BUNCOMBE 33% 47% 18% 1%
MADISON 28% 47% 24% 1%
NEW HANOVER 28% 47% 24% 1%
MACON 18% 47% 34% 1%
CAMDEN 21% 46% 32% 1%
CLAY 17% 46% 36% 1%
POLK 22% 45% 31% 1%
CARTERET 17% 45% 37% 1%
ALLEGHANY 21% 45% 32% 1%
ONSLOW 21% 45% 33% 1%
BURKE 24% 45% 31% 1%
WAKE 34% 44% 21% 1%
MCDOWELL 19% 44% 36% 1%
CHEROKEE 17% 44% 38% 1%
MOORE 21% 44% 34% 1%
HAYWOOD 26% 44% 29% 1%
CHATHAM 32% 43% 23% 1%
BRUNSWICK 25% 43% 31% 1%
ASHE 20% 43% 36% 1%
CATAWBA 23% 42% 34% 1%
LEE 32% 42% 25% 1%
DAVIE 16% 42% 41% 1%
PERQUIMANS 33% 41% 25% 1%
IREDELL 23% 41% 35% 1%
HYDE 40% 41% 19% 0%
ALEXANDER 18% 41% 40% 1%
LINCOLN 18% 41% 40% 1%
CUMBERLAND 39% 41% 19% 1%
PERSON 35% 40% 24% 1%
CABARRUS 28% 40% 31% 1%
State 35% 40% 24% 1%
GASTON 28% 40% 31% 1%
HOKE 36% 40% 22% 1%
YADKIN 15% 40% 44% 1%
SURRY 21% 40% 39% 0%
PENDER 26% 40% 33% 1%
CRAVEN 28% 40% 32% 1%
DURHAM 50% 40% 10% 1%
JOHNSTON 25% 40% 34% 1%
RANDOLPH 17% 39% 42% 1%
YANCEY 28% 39% 32% 1%
ALAMANCE 33% 39% 27% 1%
WILKES 17% 39% 43% 1%
DAVIDSON 21% 39% 39% 1%
STOKES 17% 39% 43% 1%
PASQUOTANK 43% 39% 17% 1%
AVERY 13% 39% 47% 1%
HARNETT 27% 39% 32% 1%
UNION 24% 39% 36% 1%
RUTHERFORD 24% 39% 36% 1%
FORSYTH 39% 38% 22% 1%
TYRRELL 41% 38% 20% 1%
ROWAN 29% 38% 32% 1%
MECKLENBURG 42% 38% 19% 1%
MITCHELL 10% 38% 51% 1%
PAMLICO 30% 38% 32% 1%
CALDWELL 21% 37% 40% 2%
STANLY 22% 37% 40% 1%
MONTGOMERY 35% 37% 27% 1%
CLEVELAND 32% 37% 31% 1%
JONES 36% 36% 27% 1%
BEAUFORT 33% 36% 30% 1%
GUILFORD 46% 36% 17% 1%
CASWELL 37% 36% 27% 0%
FRANKLIN 36% 36% 27% 1%
COLUMBUS 44% 36% 20% 0%
GRANVILLE 41% 36% 23% 1%
PITT 39% 36% 24% 1%
RICHMOND 45% 36% 19% 0%
BLADEN 48% 35% 16% 0%
GRAHAM 23% 35% 42% 1%
ROCKINGHAM 30% 35% 34% 1%
WAYNE 36% 35% 28% 1%
SCOTLAND 50% 34% 16% 0%
GATES 43% 34% 22% 1%
CHOWAN 39% 33% 27% 0%
GREENE 45% 33% 21% 0%
DUPLIN 39% 33% 27% 1%
ROBESON 53% 32% 14% 1%
WILSON 47% 31% 21% 1%
SAMPSON 36% 31% 32% 1%
MARTIN 47% 29% 23% 0%
LENOIR 46% 29% 25% 1%
HALIFAX 59% 29% 12% 1%
NASH 47% 28% 24% 1%
WASHINGTON 57% 28% 15% 1%
NORTHAMPTON 61% 28% 12% 0%
VANCE 59% 27% 14% 1%
ANSON 62% 25% 13% 0%
HERTFORD 66% 24% 9% 0%
WARREN 64% 24% 11% 0%
BERTIE 63% 23% 13% 0%
EDGECOMBE 64% 20% 15% 0%

In comparison, only 24 percent of Baby Boomers state-wide are registered unaffiliated:


CURRITUCK 25% 39% 36% 0%
TRANSYLVANIA 29% 36% 35% 0%
HENDERSON 25% 36% 39% 0%
POLK 31% 34% 35% 0%
DARE 34% 33% 32% 0%
BRUNSWICK 28% 33% 39% 0%
CAMDEN 38% 32% 30% 0%
CLAY 26% 32% 42% 0%
CHATHAM 44% 30% 26% 0%
MACON 29% 29% 41% 0%
MOORE 29% 29% 42% 0%
CARTERET 27% 29% 44% 0%
BUNCOMBE 43% 29% 28% 0%
ONSLOW 32% 28% 39% 0%
CHEROKEE 29% 28% 43% 0%
WATAUGA 31% 28% 41% 0%
PERQUIMANS 44% 28% 28% 0%
JACKSON 43% 28% 29% 0%
ORANGE 54% 28% 18% 0%
WAKE 41% 27% 32% 0%
NEW HANOVER 36% 27% 37% 0%
MCDOWELL 34% 27% 38% 0%
SWAIN 44% 27% 29% 0%
IREDELL 28% 27% 45% 0%
MADISON 47% 27% 27% 0%
HAYWOOD 43% 26% 31% 0%
UNION 28% 26% 46% 0%
BURKE 37% 26% 37% 0%
PASQUOTANK 50% 26% 24% 0%
LINCOLN 29% 26% 45% 0%
CATAWBA 26% 26% 48% 0%
CABARRUS 32% 25% 42% 0%
PENDER 36% 25% 38% 0%
CRAVEN 39% 25% 36% 0%
PAMLICO 43% 25% 32% 0%
MITCHELL 11% 25% 64% 0%
DAVIE 20% 25% 55% 0%
MECKLENBURG 46% 25% 30% 0%
ROWAN 31% 24% 45% 0%
RUTHERFORD 38% 24% 37% 0%
State 42% 24% 34% 0%
AVERY 13% 24% 63% 0%
CALDWELL 28% 24% 48% 0%
GASTON 34% 24% 42% 0%
ALEXANDER 29% 24% 47% 0%
ASHE 33% 24% 43% 0%
YANCEY 41% 24% 35% 0%
JOHNSTON 36% 23% 41% 0%
ALLEGHANY 41% 23% 35% 0%
CHOWAN 52% 23% 25% 0%
PERSON 51% 23% 26% 0%
STANLY 31% 23% 46% 0%
ROCKINGHAM 42% 23% 35% 0%
LEE 47% 23% 30% 0%
TYRRELL 64% 22% 13% 0%
RANDOLPH 23% 22% 54% 0%
DURHAM 61% 22% 16% 0%
FRANKLIN 46% 22% 31% 0%
ALAMANCE 41% 22% 36% 0%
BEAUFORT 45% 22% 33% 0%
FORSYTH 43% 22% 35% 0%
GRAHAM 34% 22% 44% 0%
YADKIN 18% 22% 60% 0%
CUMBERLAND 52% 22% 26% 0%
HYDE 64% 22% 14% 0%
HOKE 59% 22% 19% 0%
BLADEN 64% 21% 15% 0%
GATES 61% 21% 18% 0%
DAVIDSON 28% 21% 50% 0%
CLEVELAND 45% 21% 33% 0%
GRANVILLE 53% 21% 25% 0%
DUPLIN 51% 21% 27% 0%
SURRY 36% 21% 43% 0%
SCOTLAND 63% 21% 16% 0%
GUILFORD 46% 21% 33% 0%
HARNETT 43% 21% 36% 0%
JONES 56% 20% 24% 0%
STOKES 29% 20% 51% 0%
MONTGOMERY 48% 20% 32% 0%
CASWELL 58% 20% 23% 0%
RICHMOND 61% 19% 20% 0%
PITT 54% 19% 27% 0%
GREENE 64% 19% 17% 0%
WILKES 26% 19% 55% 0%
COLUMBUS 64% 18% 18% 0%
WAYNE 49% 18% 34% 0%
HALIFAX 70% 17% 12% 0%
WASHINGTON 71% 17% 12% 0%
NASH 53% 16% 31% 0%
WILSON 57% 16% 26% 0%
LENOIR 60% 16% 24% 0%
MARTIN 66% 15% 19% 0%
WARREN 70% 15% 15% 0%
BERTIE 75% 15% 10% 0%
VANCE 71% 14% 15% 0%
ANSON 72% 14% 14% 0%
SAMPSON 48% 14% 38% 0%
NORTHAMPTON 77% 13% 10% 0%
HERTFORD 77% 13% 10% 0%
ROBESON 74% 13% 13% 0%
EDGECOMBE 75% 9% 16% 0%

As the "bridge" generation between Millennials and Baby Boomers, Generation Xers have 31 percent of their cohort registered unaffiliated:


TRANSYLVANIA 23% 43% 33% 1%
CURRITUCK 17% 42% 40% 1%
HENDERSON 20% 42% 38% 1%
DARE 26% 41% 32% 1%
WATAUGA 24% 40% 36% 1%
BUNCOMBE 36% 39% 24% 1%
ORANGE 45% 38% 16% 1%
POLK 25% 38% 37% 1%
CAMDEN 25% 38% 37% 1%
CLAY 23% 38% 39% 1%
MADISON 36% 37% 26% 1%
JACKSON 36% 37% 26% 0%
SWAIN 37% 37% 25% 0%
NEW HANOVER 30% 37% 33% 1%
CHATHAM 35% 37% 27% 1%
MCDOWELL 23% 36% 40% 0%
WAKE 37% 36% 27% 1%
CARTERET 19% 36% 44% 1%
MACON 22% 36% 42% 1%
BRUNSWICK 27% 35% 38% 0%
BURKE 26% 35% 38% 0%
HAYWOOD 32% 35% 32% 1%
MOORE 22% 35% 42% 1%
ONSLOW 25% 35% 39% 1%
CABARRUS 30% 33% 36% 1%
IREDELL 23% 33% 44% 0%
PASQUOTANK 41% 33% 25% 1%
PERQUIMANS 38% 33% 29% 1%
ALLEGHANY 32% 33% 35% 0%
UNION 24% 33% 43% 0%
LINCOLN 21% 33% 46% 0%
PERSON 39% 32% 28% 0%
ALEXANDER 23% 32% 45% 0%
PENDER 26% 32% 41% 1%
CATAWBA 23% 32% 45% 0%
MITCHELL 8% 32% 60% 0%
ASHE 24% 32% 44% 0%
MECKLENBURG 45% 31% 23% 0%
State 37% 31% 31% 0%
GASTON 28% 31% 40% 0%
DAVIE 16% 31% 52% 0%
RUTHERFORD 29% 31% 39% 1%
LEE 37% 31% 32% 0%
AVERY 9% 31% 59% 0%
CHEROKEE 25% 31% 44% 1%
ROWAN 26% 31% 43% 0%
HOKE 46% 31% 23% 0%
CALDWELL 22% 31% 47% 1%
STANLY 24% 31% 45% 0%
CRAVEN 31% 30% 38% 0%
DURHAM 57% 30% 12% 0%
TYRRELL 54% 30% 16% 0%
SURRY 24% 30% 45% 0%
CUMBERLAND 45% 30% 25% 0%
RANDOLPH 18% 30% 52% 0%
JOHNSTON 28% 30% 42% 1%
FORSYTH 40% 30% 30% 0%
ALAMANCE 36% 30% 34% 0%
ROCKINGHAM 33% 29% 37% 0%
DAVIDSON 22% 29% 48% 0%
HARNETT 33% 29% 37% 1%
GUILFORD 45% 29% 26% 0%
STOKES 20% 29% 51% 0%
GATES 44% 29% 27% 0%
FRANKLIN 37% 29% 34% 1%
BLADEN 53% 28% 18% 0%
YANCEY 34% 28% 37% 0%
PAMLICO 35% 28% 36% 1%
YADKIN 14% 28% 57% 0%
WILKES 19% 28% 52% 0%
SCOTLAND 54% 28% 18% 0%
CLEVELAND 36% 28% 36% 0%
MONTGOMERY 42% 27% 31% 0%
GRANVILLE 44% 27% 28% 0%
BEAUFORT 36% 27% 36% 0%
CASWELL 45% 27% 28% 0%
DUPLIN 43% 27% 30% 0%
RICHMOND 53% 26% 21% 0%
JONES 43% 26% 31% 0%
CHOWAN 45% 26% 28% 0%
COLUMBUS 53% 26% 21% 0%
PITT 46% 26% 28% 0%
WAYNE 40% 25% 35% 0%
GRAHAM 30% 25% 45% 0%
GREENE 54% 24% 21% 0%
HYDE 57% 24% 17% 1%
WILSON 50% 23% 27% 0%
MARTIN 55% 22% 23% 0%
HALIFAX 64% 22% 14% 0%
LENOIR 51% 21% 28% 0%
ROBESON 65% 21% 14% 0%
NASH 49% 21% 30% 0%
SAMPSON 39% 21% 39% 0%
ANSON 64% 20% 16% 0%
VANCE 64% 19% 16% 0%
WASHINGTON 67% 18% 15% 0%
NORTHAMPTON 72% 18% 10% 0%
HERTFORD 71% 17% 12% 0%
WARREN 71% 17% 12% 0%
BERTIE 71% 17% 12% 0%
EDGECOMBE 67% 14% 19% 0%

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

"We're #2!": Registered Unaffiliated Voters in North Carolina

It was this past Saturday that many who track NC politics had been waiting for--well, maybe 3 or 4 of us, but we saw it coming. Saturday's NC State Board of Elections data file showed that registered unaffiliated voters now outnumber registered Republicans statewide, and working towards the level of registered Democrats.

In looking at the September 9, 2017 data of the 6.7 million registered voters in the Old North State, registered unaffiliated voters were a total of 55 voters now above registered Republicans, marking the first time in the state's history that one of the two major parties was surpassed by voters who eschewed a party label in their voter registration.

So a couple of questions: first, where did this "rise of the unaffiliated" come from?

It's been some time in the making in North Carolina, but the trend lines speak for themselves. This graph shows the party registration figures, general for the first of each year since 2004:


Back in 2004, registered unaffiliated voters were only 17.7 percent of the pool, while registered Democrats were 47.6 percent and registered Republicans were 34.5 percent of the 5 million registered citizens.

Fast forward to September 9, 2017, and the 6.7 million registered North Carolinians break down into 39 percent registered Democrats, 30 percent registered unaffiliated, and 30 percent registered Republicans.

So who exactly are registering as unaffiliated in North Carolina? One of the key trends that I think is happening in the state, and across the nation, is the rise of the Millennial, those born in and after 1981. In breaking down the 6.7 million registered NC voters into generational cohorts (GenXers born between 1965 and 1980; Baby Boomers born between 1945 and 1965; the Greatest/Silent generations born before 1945), you find where the unaffiliated rise comes from:


Registering Millennials are breaking with both political parties and registering unaffiliated at 40 percent, while the generational cohorts have smaller middle bands of unaffiliated registration.

This generational shift has been occurring in North Carolina since 2008, most likely due to the Obama ground game in the state, but has only accelerated. In looking at the voter pool as of 9-9-17 and which year that the voters in that pool registered in, one sees the growing dominance of voters under the age of 36 in the past decade:


In 2016, almost 60 percent of North Carolina's voters who registered that year were Millennials.

Exploring these generational differences reveals some interesting trends; for example, the location of the voter is an important consideration to take into account, between urban, suburban, and rural counties of the state:


Millennials in urban counties should not surprise anyone, since research has tended to show that this generation prefers high density areas. Conversely, 54 percent of the Greatest & Silent generations prefer rural and suburban counties.

Beyond just where these voters live, we also find a distinct racial composition difference between the generations:


Millennials are the most racially diverse generation, and that is reflected in the fact that 38 percent of registered Millennial voters are non-white.

Exploring both white and black/African-American voters in North Carolina, differences are very apparent, but the unaffiliated trends are most pronounced within younger voters. For example, white voters in the South tend to be majority Republican, but younger NC voters are not following their older counterparts in registration affiliation:


Among NC black voters, the "post" civil rights generation may begin to show some independence from the strong Democratic allegiance and registration that the older generations have shown:


While their voter registration shows less than three-quarters of black NC voters registering with the Democratic Party, their voting patterns tend to show strong allegiance to Democrats.

Finally, in looking at the urban/suburban/rural divide within North Carolina's counties, the unaffiliated voters are becoming pronounced in urban and suburban counties, to the consternation of both political parties:


Unaffiliated voters are second within urban counties and suburban counties, making Republicans third in urban counties and Democrats third in suburban counties. Only in rural counties are unaffiliated voters trailing the two major parties in registration.

But here's a key point that must be made: being unaffiliated in registration does not mean you are politically independent. In fact, self-identifying as a political independent does not mean you aren't partisan either. In looking at the American National Election Study for 2016, when asked to indicate one's strength of partisanship and then their vote choice, those who are "independent leaners" tend to be as partisan as those who self-identify with one of the two political parties:


This trend of independent leaners being "faux independents" has been with us for some time, and the true national percentage of independent independents is typically 10 to 15 percent in a presidential election.

And when you look at the generation cohorts and their 2016 presidential vote choice, at least at the national level, you see the Democratic affiliation among Millennials in stark contrast to the other generations:


So, while unaffiliated voters in North Carolina are the fastest growing group among registration, the clarification of (at least thinking that North Carolina may, in some ways, reflect some of the trends of the nation), it is important to consider whether they truly are "unaffiliated" in their partisan allegiances, or whether they simply eschew the party label, but cast their ballots in secret as partisan as the next generation.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Analysis of Generations in the 2016 Election: Policy and Issue Differences Among the Generations

As a second post to yesterday's analysis on 2016's election and generations, the policy differences and issue stances of the four cohorts--Millennials (born after 1981), Generation Xers (born between 1965 and 1980), Baby Boomers (born between 1945 and 1965), and the Greatest Generation (born before 1945)--show key differences among the generational cohorts, much like the partisan and ideological perspectives.

First, much was made about the economic situation of the country. In the ANES 2016 data, a "retrospective" economic question was asked: has the economy gotten better, worse, or about the same since 2008?


Only the Greatest generation had a plurality that rated the economy worse than eight years ago, while Millennials had the strongest percentage of responses that the economy was better than when Obama took office.

With the controversy in North Carolina over House Bill 2, the state law that denied local governments the ability to enact non-discrimination ordinances to include transgender citizens, ANES asked a question regarding transgender citizens and policies regarding public facilities (bathrooms).


Only Millennials had a majority respond that transgender persons should be allowed to use the bathrooms of their identified gender, with both Baby Boomers and the Greatest Generation having at least a ten-point difference to the majority of using the bathroom of the gender they were born with.

On another issue involving the LGBTQ community, following the U.S. Supreme Court's sanctioning of same-sex marriages, the issue of adoption by gay couples has become another point of policy controversy.


While solid majorities in all four generational cohorts believed that gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to adopt, Millennials held the highest percentage of any cohort, while Greatest was the lowest. This may be related to the strength of religious faith among older voters, as documented by church attendance in another ANES question:


Pluralities of Millennials and Gen Xers reported attending church only a few times a year, while a solid majority of Greatest Generation reported attending church every week.

As one of the most controversial issues of the 2016 campaign, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) generated a great deal of interest on both sides. But when asked about the effect of the ACA on health care costs, all four generations held similar beliefs.


All four generational cohorts held majority opinions that the ACA increased health care costs, but Millennials were over ten points lower than older voters in holding that belief.

With some states legalizing the sale and regulation of marijuana, the ANES asked whether marijuana should be legalized:


With a majority of Millennials favoring while those of the Greatest Generation opposing legalization of marijuana, pluralities of both Gen Xers and Baby Boomers favored the policy.

Another controversial proposal, espoused by Republican Donald Trump, was to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.


While pluralities of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers opposed the policy and a majority of Millennials were opposed, a slight plurality of Greatest Generation favored Trump's policy.

Another issue raised by the Republican presidential candidate was to close off the United States to Syrian refugees.


While no generational cohort supported the policy of allowing Syrian refugees into the nation, Millennials were the closest in their support-to-opposition, while older respondents were solidly oppose to the policy of allowing refugees from Syria into the U.S.

For many Republicans, the vacant Supreme Court seat of the late Antonin Scalia, and Obama's selection of Merrick Garland to fill the seat, was an important issue in the election.


With the strong majority support from Millennials for a Senate vote on Garland as the nominee, along with majority support from Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, it was only the Greatest Generation that was opposed to giving a vote to Garland and holding the seat open for the future president.

Finally, one of the interesting divisions between the Greatest Generation and the other generations was over government reducing income inequality:


With Millennials having the greatest support for favoring government reducing income inequality, the Greatest Generation had a bare plurality oppose such a policy.

Finally, I'll end with some issues regarding the various perceptions in the 2016 election.

First, the notion that the "world is changing and we should adjust":


Not surprising, those under the age of 50ish were more likely to either strongly or somewhat agree that change is warranted, while those over 50 disagreed with the statement.

When asked if "newer lifestyles are breaking down society," each generation had at least a plurality opinion:


But interesting, it was Baby Boomers (children of the 1960s) and the Greatest Generation that held majority views agreeing with the breaking of society by newer lifestyles.

All four generational cohorts agreed (strongly or somewhat) with the statement that the "country needs a strong leader to take us back to the true path," but again, the divisions between the younger generation and the older generation were most pronounced.


Finally, the belief in government's role (either that less government is better or that government should be doing more) has a significant divide between the youngest and oldest generation:


Similar to the partisan and ideological findings among the generations in the previous post, policy and perspectives also seem to create a sense of generational divide. As noted in the previous posting, Baby Boomers and Millennials are the two largest cohorts in last year's electorate, and the likelihood is that Millennials will take the plurality in the next presidential election. Whether their policy views will shape or determine future presidential candidates and party platforms is up for debate, but the sense of a shift in policy and perspectives coming should not surprise anyone paying attention in this hyper-polarized political environment of American politics.