Friday, September 26, 2014

Despite Growth, Don't Expect Unaffiliated Voters To Exercise Influence

I have a new blog post at WFAE's The Party Line on the growth, and what some might say as the disappointment in turnout, among North Carolina's fast growing 'unaffiliated' voters.

A new twist on NC's mail-in ballots

The trends continue for the early absentee balloting by mail for North Carolinians in this year's general election, but we apparently need to add a new player to the game of requesting and returning & acceptance of ballots.

Overall, 15,590 requests have been submitted for mail-in early voting, an increase of 5 percent over yesterday's 15,147 total so far.

The plurality of requested ballots continues to come from registered Democrats (41 percent), while GOP registered voters are at 35 percent and unaffiliated registered voters are at 23 percent.  Women are 55 percent of the requested ballots, while white voters 83 percent (a slight tick up from yesterday) while black voters are 12 percent.  Based on the news from today, we included a special category for felines (currently 0 percent) and tabbies (also currently 0 percent). We will be diligent in making sure to watch for that all-important voter bloc of cats going into the future.

As far as 2,452 returned and accepted ballots go:

Again, Democrats are a plurality of these ballots (45 percent) to GOP's 35 percent and unaffiliated voters at 19 percent. Females are 54 percent, while whites are 80 percent and blacks are 15 percent.

With 40 days to go to Election Day, the trend lines continues over 2010's numbers, with Democrats seeing an 11 percent increase over their numbers from yesterday, GOP ballots increased 8 percent, and unaffiliated ballots increased 9 percent.

The numbers will be updated over the weekend, and then we'll return on Tuesday with the new numbers. Hope everyone has a good weekend.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

September 25's Updates on NC Mail-In Ballots

Not much has really changed with the steady stream of requests for and returns & acceptances of mail-in ballots in North Carolina's general election.

As of today, 15,147 requests have been submitted for mail-in ballots, an increase of 5% from the previous day.  Of these requests, 41% are from registered Democratic voters, 35% from registered Republicans, and 23% from registered unaffiliated voters.  Women are still 55% of the requested ballots, with white voters at 83% and black voters at 12%.

For returned and accepted ballots, 2,236 ballots are now considered votes (15% of the requested so far).  Democrats are right at 1,000 (45% of the total returned & accepted), with Republicans at 36% and unaffiliated voters at 19%.  White voters are 81% and black voters are 15%, slightly higher than their requested rate.

Finally, in comparing this year's mid-term election's mail-in ballots that are returned and accepted to 2010's same figures, the trend continues: this year's numbers are substantially higher, and Democrats continue their edge against Republicans (just a reminder: Republicans have traditionally been the plurality of ballots coming via mail-in).

Again, the above chart tracks 'day-to-day' comparisons from Election Day out in 2010 and 2014 and the number of cumulative ballots for both parties that have come in to that day (today, Sept. 25, is 41 days out of from Election Day).

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Update on NC Mail-In Ballots & New Perspective on Cumulative Totals

Today's datafile of mail-in absentee ballots in North Carolina shows an increase of 5 percent in requested ballots, up to 14,403, with a 23 percent increase in returned ballots to 1,995 ballots accepted, both from the previous day.

Democrats continue to lead in requested ballots (41 percent of the total), with Republicans second (35 percent) and unaffiliated voters third (23 percent) and in accepted ballots returned (Democrats at 45 percent, GOP at 36 percent, and unaffiliated at 19 percent).

Women and white voters continue to lead in both gender and race in requested and returned/accepted ballots.

One change that I have made since tracking these numbers: previously, in comparing this year's performance in mail-in ballots, I was comparing 'first day' of this year to 'first day' of 2010's election, and the numbers generally showed a lower performance this year in comparison to the 2010 election.
Now, I'll be comparing "days out" from Election Day to garner a clearer comparison between the two elections (2010 and 2014). And what we find is a significant increase in all facets over the 2010 election results.

For example, the first day of returned/accepted ballots in 2010 saw 23 ballots counted, which was also the forty-third day prior to the general election day.  This year, due to ten days of counting returned and accepted ballots prior to the same "days before Election Day," we see a marked increase in the ballots counted on the forty-third day: 1,519 ballots, and that number has gone up with today's (September 24, with 42 days left before election day) data to 1,995 ballots.

I believe this comparison approach is better to make "day-to-day" before Election Day comparisons of 2010 to this year's, and would certainly welcome any thoughts and ideas from others. It is surprising, when viewed in this fashion, the strength of all three party registrations in terms of the numbers of ballots being returned, and the strength particularly of registered Democrats to lead in a traditionally-Republican method of voting.

Whether this is a recognition by the voters of the decreased early in-person voting method or the energy/enthusiasm level if up, and most significantly up by Democrats, is something to continue to pay very close attention to in this highly-competitive election year.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

New Calculation of 2014 Mail-In Ballots in Comparison to 2010

In looking at the early numbers of mail-in absentee ballots for this year's election, I also looked at the numbers from the most recent mid-term election in 2010 to gather some sense of how things were proceeding.

Previously, I was comparing the first few days in each election to each other, with the finding that this year's numbers in the first few days were considerably down in comparison to the 2010 numbers.

But in looking deeper at the numbers, I decided to count back from the election day for both years and then do a straight comparison, based on the number of days out from the election.

Well, to say the least: that changes the whole ballgame in looking at this year's election so far.

A note: this year's mail-in ballots were accepted ten days before the first ballots were accepted in 2010, and so I recalculated using the number of days out from the election to make a straight day-to-day comparison of mail-in ballots coming in during the two years.

The above graph shows days 43 through 37 before Election Day, with the bar graphs showing 2010's cumulative absentee mail-in ballots that came in by party registration of the voter. The first day that the first mail-in absentee ballots were accepted in 2010 was 43 days from the election; 23 ballots were accepted that day.

In the graph, the three numbers above the "43 day" show the number of Democratic (689), Republican (549), and unaffiliated (281) voters who have returned their ballots and have them accepted as votes in this year's election. So, in comparison to 2010, today (September 23, 2014) marks 43 days out from Election Day on November 4, and we have a cumulative total of 1,519 ballots accepted as votes.

So what might this mean? While 2010 was notable for the GOP enthusiasm created by the Tea Party movement, it appears that, at least in this year in North Carolina, the enthusiasm is definitely there on all sides, but what is more remarkable is the surge that Democrats have really made in their use of what has traditionally been a Republican stronghold in voting methods.

Is it because of the reduction in early voting and Democrats realized that they need to get their votes in the bank? Is it because voters really are energized by this year's election? We won't really know, but something seems to be going on with this year's election that many may not be predicting for a standard boring mid-term election.

Updated Mail-in Ballots in NC General Election as of 9-23-14

With the latest data file from the NC State Board of Elections, 13,648 North Carolinians have requested mail-in absentee ballots for the 2014 general election, with 1,622 (12%) of those requested ballots returned and accepted as votes in for the general election. As with previous analyses, the trends continue to be in the favor of registered Democratic voters.

With these latest figures, registered Democrats continue to be a plurality in both requested and returned & accepted ballots: Democrats are 42% of the requested ballots, and 45% of the returned & accepted ballots.  Registered Republicans are at 35% and 37% of requested and returned/accepted ballots, while registered unaffiliated voters are 23% and 19% of requested and returned/accepted, respectively.

Women continue their pace of requested ballots at 55%, while being 53% of returned and accepted ballots.  White voters are 83% of requested and 81% of returned/accepted, while black voters are 12% of requested and 14% of returned/accepted ballots.

In comparison to the 2010 mail-in absentee ballots, this year's overall numbers are below 2010's, but Democrats are still leading in returned/accepted ballots over Republicans, which was the opposite from 2010.

From these very early (and I stress, very early) figures, it would start to appear that Democrats are mobilized in their potential grassroots operation in an area that has traditionally been dominated by Republicans.