Saturday, October 4, 2008

And the Numbers keep adding up

With about a month to go before the election, much has been made about the dramatic increases in voter registration. I took a look at the NC State Board of Elections website, and just compared the most recent totals for voter registration at the end of two most recent weeks: the week ending 9/27 and 10/3. Here's some figures:

  • Change from 9/27 to 10/3: +31,114 new registrations

Of those new registrations:
  • Voters declaring affiliation with the Democratic Party: 16,067 (51.6% of the new voters)
  • Voters declaring an "unaffiliated" affiliation: 8,844 (28.4%)
  • Voters declaring affiliation with the Republican Party: 5,978 (19.2%)

With the deadline of registering to vote coming soon (October 10), North Carolina has over 6 million registered voters on the books. Out of this 6 million registered voters, a similar pattern is holding yet again: 14 counties account for over 50% of the registered voters in the state. In order of size of registered voters, and the percentage of the state's total registered voters, are the following counties:

  1. Mecklenburg: 599,523 (10%)
  2. Wake: 562,940 (9.3%)
  3. Guilford: 339,261 (5.6%)
  4. Forsyth: 211,688 (3.5%)
  5. Cumberland: 198,566 (3.3%)
  6. Durham: 184,537 (3.0%)
  7. Buncombe: 171,367 (2.8%)
  8. New Hanover: 140,653 (2.3%)
  9. Gaston: 122,698 (2.0%)
  10. Union: 116,526 (1.9%)
  11. Cabarrus: 105,697 (1.7%)
  12. Pitt: 102,245 (1.7%)
  13. Catawba: 101,893 (1.7%)
  14. Orange: 100,967 (1.6%)
The counties that are home to major metropolitan regions--Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, Asheville, New Bern, and now Greenville--are narrowing the field of voters into the (primarily) "interstate" counties. And, as has been the case in recent elections, a smaller number of counties make up the majority of votes cast in North Carolina.

While the candidates and their campaigns in the state-wide races (president, U.S. Senate, governor) are probably focusing on these interstate counties and their surrounding areas, what will be interesting to watch is the other 86 counties (some in the metro regions and those consider "rural") will behave come Nov. 4. Increased voter registration will most likely increase turnout, but it's good to remember that you can register a voter, but getting them to the polls is like a horse--although getting them to "drink" may be easier with the intensity and energy surrounding this year's election water.