Friday, October 10, 2014

New Post at WFAE's The Party Line

Have a new blog post reflecting on this week's two 'debates' for the U.S. Senate contest at WFAE's The Party Line.

Good News for GOP, as well as "You Can Never Have Enough Bar Graphs"

As we near the end of the week in terms of the data on North Carolina's mail-in absentee balloting, there's some good news for Republicans in their quest to catch up to the surprising performance by registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters.

Among the 37,881 requests for ballots through yesterday (10-9), requests from registered Republican voters now stands at 37 percent, while the requests from registered Democrats dropped to 39 percent. Unaffiliated voters requesting mail-in ballots stood at 24 percent.

You can really tell the difference in the arc of the top graphic (above) where the GOP red-line is catching up to the blue line of Democrats.  Among these requested ballots so far:

  • Women are still 56 percent of the requested ballots to 43 percent for men.
  • White voters are 82 percent of the requested ballots to 12 percent for black voters.
Even with this catch-up by GOP registered voters, Democrats continue their pace at returning and having their ballots accepted.

Among the ballots counted as votes for November 4's election:

  • 43 percent are from registered Democrats
  • 36 percent from registered Republicans
  • 22 percent from registered unaffiliated voters
  • 54 percent from female voters
  • 45 percent from male voters
  • 82 percent from white voters
  • 13 percent from black voters
And for the category of "You Can Never Have Enough Bar Graphs" for the end of the week: in comparing the percentage increase in this year's numbers from the last mid-term election in 2010, Democrats and unaffiliated voters are substantial ahead of their day-to-day comparisons while Republicans had been exceeding but, in the past few days, slightly dropped, below their 2010 comparable numbers. 

In addition, I looked at the 2014 voters who have requested mail-in absentee ballots and compared it to their voting method in 2010's election:

While the "enthusiasm" attention has squarely been on Republican voters, these graphs contend that in North Carolina, an organized campaign (whether by a national or candidate's organization) is in full swing for all party registered voters, but notably for Democrats, in terms of those who didn't vote in 2010 and who have voted this year via mail-in balloting. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Update on NC's Mail-in Balloting

The trends continue apace, so here's a quick update on the latest numbers for requests and returned/accepted ballots in North Carolina's 2014 general election:

So far, 33,684 ballots have been requested and sent out, with 40.6 percent going to registered Democrats, 37 percent to registered Republicans, and 24 percent to registered unaffiliated voters. Women are 56 percent of the requested ballots, and whites continue to be 83 percent and black voters are 13 percent.

Among the 6,617 ballots that have been returned and accepted as legal votes for the general election (return rate of 20 percent so far):

  • registered Democrats are 43 percent
  • registered Republicans are 36 percent
  • registered unaffiliated voters are 21 percent
  • Women are 54 percent
  • White voters are 82 percent
  • Black voters are 13 percent
In terms of the trend of returned & accepted ballots, the gap between registered Democrats and Republicans have continued over the past week, along with the significant rise over the 2010 numbers at the same period from Election Day.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Looking Back at Round 2 for Hagan-Tillis & Thursday's Debate

Had the opportunity to join Frank Stasio on WUNC's "The State of Things" talking about the second debate between Democrat Kay Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis and what might be expected in Thursday's final debate between Tillis, Hagan and Libertarian Sean Haugh.

Diving Deeper into the Mail-In Data Pool

A question has been raised about this year's absentee mail-in voters and what they did in the last mid-term elections.  Courtesy of data files from the North Carolina Board of Elections, I was able to pair up and match voter records of those folks who have voted so far by mail in 2014 with information on whether they voted or not in 2010.

In a pie chart, here's the data:

Of the 30,000 requested mail-in ballots sent out so far, 22 percent are going to voters who used the same voting method in 2010.  Another 22 percent have gone to voters who showed up early to vote in person, while another 16 percent have requested ballots this year and who voted on election day in 2010.

A plurality--40 percent--did not vote in 2010's election but have requested mail-in ballots for this year's election.

The Trend Is Broken--At Least On One Level

In at least one area of North Carolina's mail-in absentee ballots for the 2014 General Election, things have shifted from Democratic dominance to a GOP advantage, at least for the time being.

Among the 31,341 requested mail-in ballots so far, yesterday's requests (10/7) saw registered Republicans take a 231 lead over registered Democratic requested ballots, giving a daily percentage breakdown of 41 percent Republican, 35 percent Democratic, and 24 percent unaffiliated. With the exception of a few days over the past two weeks, requests from registered Democrats have been leading the daily-totals.  With this shift (and it will be important to continue to watch and see if Republicans continue their advantage now and can catch-up in cumulative total requested ballots), we could start to see a possible shift back to the traditional numbers when it comes to mail-in absentee balloting.

With this aspect, the cumulative requested ballots from registered Republicans has cut into the Democrat's lead, as noted in the below graph:

It is still interesting that among all three voter registration categories--Democratic, Republican and unaffiliated--we see significant numbers ahead of the totals from 2010's general election.

In terms of specific cumulative numbers:

The trends from the past several days, excluding the partisan registration affiliation, continue to hold: women are 56 percent of the requests to 43 percent for men; white voters are 82 percent to 12 percent by black voters.  Registered Democrats slipped to 40 percent of the cumulative total, while registered Republicans are at 36 percent and unaffiliated voters are at 24 percent.

Among the ballots returned and accepted as votes so far, the trends have continued as in the past few days:

Among the 5,932 returned and accepted ballots:

  • 44 percent are from registered Democrats
  • 35 percent are from registered Republicans
  • 21 percent are from registered unaffiliated voters
  • 53 percent are from female voters
  • 82 percent are from white voters
  • 14 percent are from black voters
If we start to see the trend of requested GOP ballots catch up and surpass Democratic requests, it may indicate that the GOP mobilization effort may be picking up speed. But to see GOP requests return to their historic advantage, with less than a month to go before Election Day, is highly unlikely.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Something Strange This Way Comes

In addition to preparing today's data on mail-in absentee ballots, I was asked to look back at the past few election cycles and see what the trends and numbers were like for mail-in absentee ballots, and found that this year's election may portend that indeed 'something strange this way comes.'

First, the requested mail-in ballots continue at their usual pace, with requests from registered Democrats leading the pack:

Of the requested ballots so far:
  • 41 percent from registered Democrats
  • 36 percent from registered Republicans
  • 24 percent from registered unaffiliated voters
  • 56 percent from women
  • 82 percent from white voters
  • 13 percent from black voters
Among party affiliation, Democrats dropped slightly over the past trend lines, while Republicans inched up in their overall percentages.

Among accepted ballots returned so far:

Returned and accepted ballots are running at 44 percent from registered Democrats, 36 percent from registered Republicans, and 21 percent from registered unaffiliated voters.  White voters are 82 percent of returned and accepted ballots, with 14 percent from black voters. Females are 53 percent to 46 percent for men.

In the "Something Strange This Way Comes" analysis part of today's posting, I looked back at just mail-in ballots that were accepted in the 2006 through 2012 election cycles:

It has traditionally been the case that registered Republicans would make up the plurality of mail-in ballots (which ranged from a little over 34,000 in 2006 to 226,812 in 2008): from a low of 44 percent in 2006 to a high of 54 percent in 2008.  

This year, the composition of Republican registered voters is at 36 percent, with registered Democrats near at their 2006 high--but what is really surprising is that unaffiliated voters are at 24 percent of the returned and accepted ballots so far, which is the highest they have been in the past 4 elections.  While the growth of unaffiliated voters is well documented, their participation in mid-term elections is well known.  Perhaps with their steady growth over the past few election cycles in this one area of balloting, their interest and participation may be something to continue to watch for both parties.  

And if this trend holds, we could be in for "something strange this way comes" in this year's election with the early indicators of mail-in absentee balloting.

Monday, October 6, 2014

America's Politics: Polarized Politics? Or Sorted? Or Both?

When discussing American politics nowadays, it's hard to get a word in edgewise before the topic of "polarization" rears its head and becomes the dominant buzzword of the conversation.  In fact, in a recent "Charlotte Talks" on WFAE, the topic of polarization became the center point of discussion about this year's mid-term elections. 

We look at the U.S. Congress and see an institution, in both the U.S. House and Senate, where the parties are further apart then they were right after the end of Reconstruction.  In fact, we’re nearing the end of any known moderates in the Congress who reach across the political aisle to the opposition; if they do, they are endangered of being ‘primaried’ by members further to the right or left of themselves.  

We see voters who self-identify with one party or the other vote for their party’s candidates over 90% of the time, with the era of the split-ticket voter now nearing its end.  In fact, strong partisans are the ones most likely interested in following political campaigns, while those voters who self-identify as independent aren’t really all that interested in campaigns.  

Commentators contend that the edges of the two parties, the “wings” of both the GOP and Democratic parties, have taken over the discussion and debate, with no real sense of compromise within this era of partisan conflict.  

Political scientists have gotten into the debate, with two camps firmly entrenched into whether America is polarized: some say it’s not polarization, but rather “political sorting” that has made it look like we’re polarized, and that there is indeed a political center to American politics.  Another camp argues sorting doesn’t explain it all, and that yes, we are indeed polarized against one another due to party loyalty to the political camps we belong to. 

Enter into this continuing debate a recent report by the Pew Research Center that has sent both sides of the debate into critical analysis of either “ah-ha, see” or “that’s not what is truly happening.”  

Pew’s report on polarization showed that the median Democrat and Republican are more ideologically divided than in the past, and that the edges of the ideological spectrum have been filled with “consistently minded” individuals that has grown over time, while the “moderately mixed middle” has dropped.  

In 1994, the distribution of responses to the Pew’s scale of political values was pretty much a bell curve diagram; now, in 2014, that bell curve has flattened in the middle, while rising on the ends.  

What Pew determines is that Republicans have not only shifted to the right, while Democrats have shifted to the left, but that the ‘consistent’ sides of the political aisle look at each with disfavor, thereby increasing the polarization within our political landscape.

Those on both sides of the polarization debate have taken the Pew findings to task; for example, Norm Ornstein, a noted analyst of Congress, argues that it’s not both parties that have moved into their respective corners, but rather the polarization is asymmetrical, with Republicans moving much further than Democrats have.

Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University, argues that the racial divide between the parties, along with the fact that the political center has shrunk and the poles at either end of the political spectrum have grown, leads one to believe that polarization is at the heart of the matter.  

On the other hand, political scientist Matthew Dickinson contends most observers of Pew’s report only scratched the surface, and that if they had gone deeper, they would have discovered that “majority [of respondents] do not have uniformly conservative or liberal views. Most do not see either party as a threat to the nation. And more believe their representatives in government should meet halfway to resolve contentious disputes rather than hold out for more of what they want.”

As Dickinson contends, Americans have ‘sorted’ themselves into their respective political camps, so that more liberals consider themselves Democrats and more conservatives consider themselves Republicans.  But that there’s still a viable middle that wants to see both parties work together.  

So, are we sorted or are we polarized?  

First, look at how the electorate views itself. Using the 2012 National American Election Study (ANES), we can break down the electorate into 7 general categories, ranging from “strong Democrat” to “independent” to “strong Republican.”  

Voters have distributed themselves along the partisan spectrum in what appears to be an upside-down bell curve, with the “strong partisans” at either end making up sizeable segments of the electorate, with 14% of pure independents in the middle.

And while the “independent-Republicans” and “independent-Democrats” could be combined with their pure independent brethren to make up a sizable middle, those independent-partisans vote at nearly the same levels as their strong partisans when it comes to casting ballots for their party’s candidates.

So, less than 15% of the 2012 electorate identify themselves as not only open to voting for either party, but are the most consistent over time in switching their votes back and forth (in 2012, they broke for Obama 54-46%).  

So, if voters have indeed ‘sorted’ themselves into partisan preferences, are they ideologically more cohesive in defining themselves as pure partisans or not?

In other words, if you ask someone who is “extremely conservative” or “extremely liberal” or even “moderate/middle of the road,” where would they classify themselves in terms of party affiliation, especially when it comes to the ‘strong partisans’ versus the pure independent?

We can find out that answer from the 2012 ANES data as well.

Note: Not Very Strong & Lean-Independent Partisans are not included in this analysis.

Both extremely liberal and extremely conservative respondents share something in common: the vast majority consider themselves strong partisans.  In fact, among those who simply consider themselves either liberal or conservative, significant numbers (47% for conservatives and nearly 60% for liberals) identify themselves as strong partisans in what we would expect (that is, liberals are strong Democrats while conservatives are strong Republicans).  

While there appears to be some voters who are extremely liberal and are strong Republicans and others who are extremely conservative but are strong Democrats, it would appear that the ideologically driven amongst us have indeed sorted themselves into the respective political camps as strong partisans.

In fact, one could argue that over the past forty years, an ideological “sorting” has come about, due to strong ideologues finding a home within the political parties.

The data comes from the yearly American National Election Studies survey of respondents in the years 1972-2012 (no data is available from 2006, 2008, or 2010). 
The above gif shows three columns of responses from 1972 to 2012:

  • blue, which indicates the percentage of those who identified as "very liberal and liberal" and who identified themselves as Strong Democrats in terms of party affiliation during the time period;
  • purple, which indicates the percentage of those who identified as "moderate/middle of the road" ideologically and who identified themselves as Pure Independents in terms of party affiliation during the time period; and,
  • red, which indicates the percentage of those who identified as "very conservative and conservative" ideologically and who identified themselves as Strong Republican in terms of party affiliation, during the time period.
In 1972, among “very liberal/liberal” identifiers, one third said they were strong Democrats; four decades later, nearly 60% of those very liberal/liberal identifiers said they were strong Democrats.

Among “very conservative & conservative” identifiers, 28% in 1972 said they were strong Republicans; forty years later, nearly 50% said they are strong Republicans.  

And it appears that it’s just not the liberal or conservative ideologies who have found their respective homes within the two major parties: moderates have become more ‘independent’ as the parties have become home to the strong ideologues.

If you then look within the party supporters and their ideological tendencies, you’ll find adherence to ideology that is associated with party identification.

Within each party’s strong adherents, we see intense affiliation to either end of the ideology spectrum: in 2012, 42% of strong Democrats said they are liberal or very liberal, while nearly 75% of strong Republicans said they are conservative or very conservative.

Compare those ideological identifications to when the same survey question was asked forty years ago: in 1972, only 31% of strong Democrats said they were either “very liberal or liberal,” while only 38% of strong Republicans said they were either “very conservative or conservative.”

Meanwhile, the pure political independent has become even more middle of the road moderate, going from 42% in 1972 to 64% in 2012.  

So if we see that sorting has occurred due to ideology and partisanship, can we see if there’s polarization going on as well?  

As a starting point, what is polarization?  According to one set of scholars, polarization can be viewed as both a ‘state and process:’ as a state, polarization “refers to the extend to which opinions on an issue are opposed” while a process, polarization means “the increase in such opposition over time.”  

In looking at different issues and the opinions that strong Democrats, strong Republicans, and pure independents have, we can see a variety of levels of polarization at work from the 2012 electorate (again, using ANES data):

On whether government or private medical insurance should be provided:

On whether the federal government should make it more difficult to buy a gun:

On gay marriage:

On whether newer lifestyles are breaking down society:

On whether the world is changing and we should adjust to those changes:

On abortion:

For these issues and values, there is a clear difference between what strong Democrats and strong Republicans hold, with independents typically in the middle.

On other issues, the differences may not be as stark, as on:

The death penalty:

Taxing millionaires:

Global warming:

On all the policies and perspectives, however, there appears to be real differences between the way that the strong partisans view and support, or oppose, issues.

In fact, there are real differences to how partisans look at the opposition party, both in terms of how they view their opposition in ideological terms and whether they simply like or dislike their opponents.

Based on ANES Data from the 2012 election, we find the ideologies within those who identify as a Democrat (combined strong Democrat, not very strong Democrat, and independent-Democrat), Republican (combined strong Republican, not very strong Republican, and independent-Republican) or pure Independent:

It is obvious, from the above data, that Republicans are much more "conservative" in their ranks than Democrats are "liberal" (you have to add extremely liberal, liberal, and slightly liberal within the Democrats to equal the same proportion of extremely conservative and conservative within the GOP).

In asking partisans (strong & not very strong) and independents (leaners and pure independents) on how they view each party ideologically, both strong partisans tend to see the opposition as more ‘ideological’ in their viewpoint, with Democrats seeing the GOP as more “extremely conservative/conservative” and Republicans seeing the Democratic Party as more “extremely liberal/liberal.”

When asked a feeling thermometer towards both parties (with 1 being absolute dislike and 100 being absolute like), a pattern emerges with how each party’s strong partisans tends to rate the other party.

One final chart from the ANES 2012 Survey of the electorate, based on how groups view their affiliated party and how they view the opposition. It's quite tell the mirror images from strong partisans to the lack of anything pure independents like in the two major parties.

So do we see sorting or polarization as the culprit of the dysfunction of the recent American political landscape?  I think the answer is yes to both: sorting has occurred, and polarization has occurred as well. The question becomes: how do we deal with this sorting and polarization in a system of government that inherently creates conflict but forces compromise in order to achieve anything? 

That may be an answer that requires all perspectives to recognize the fact of our current system, and then deliberately decide to ignore the environment and do what is best. The problem continues, however: what one would define as "the best" is open to interpretation by both parties, the elites/elected officials, and the voters themselves. 

Where is the Surge of Democrats & Unaffiliated Voters In NC's Mail-In Ballots?

What has been most notable about North Carolina's mail-in ballots for the 2014 general election has been the surge in not only ballots from registered Democrats but from unaffiliated voters as well.

The other posts so far have been tracking the cumulative and daily totals of the mail-in absentee ballots, but with this post, I wanted to take a look at the location of these mail-in ballots to get a sense from 2010's election.

Statewide, as of October 5th, this year's total of requested mail-in ballots is currently at 45 percent of the 2010's total number of accepted mail-in ballots.  But within those 24,765 ballots and the final month of campaigning, Democrats are currently at 51 percent of their total 2010 numbers, with requests from unaffiliated voters at 56 percent of their totals four years ago.  In contrast, requests from registered Republicans are only 35 percent of their 2010 total numbers.

In terms of the counties with the largest overall requested ballots (for all voters), it is the typical counties that you would expect to see:

  • Wake County (home to Raleigh): 3,173, with both Democrats and unaffiliated percentages at 76 and 71 percent of their final 2010 accepted ballot numbers, respectively.
  • Mecklenburg County (home to Charlotte): 2,996, with unaffiliated voters at 73 percent and Democrats at 61 percent compared to their final 2010 accepted ballots numbers; however, Republicans lead in raw numbers, with 1,262 to Democrats 967 and unaffiliated's 764. 
  • Guilford County (home to Greensboro): 1,512, with Democrats at 57 percent and unaffiliated at 58 percent.

In looking at the state's one hundred counties, 33 counties are seeing registered Democrats requesting ballots at a level over 50 percent from their 2010 total numbers; for example, Greene County's requested ballots from Democrats is 268 percent over their total 2010 accepted ballots number. Two other counties, Bladen and Onslow, are also over 100 percent in requested ballots compared to their 2010 final accepted ballot totals.

Registered unaffiliated voters requesting ballots are over 50 percent of their accepted ballots from 2010 in 40 counties.  While Robeson County's percentage of unaffiliated voters is 815 percent, the raw numbers are that requested mail-in ballots from unaffiliated voters is at 106 as of 10-5, while the total accepted ballots from unaffiliated voters in 2010 was only 13.  

Only 10 counties have registered Republicans over 50 percent of their requested ballots from 2010's total mail-in absentee ballots.

Below is a map indicating the counties where Democrats, Republicans, and unaffiliated (or some combination thereof) are currently at 50 percent in requested ballots compared to their total 2010 mail-in accepted ballots.  

Granted, not all requested ballots will be returned and accepted, but the surge in both Democratic and unaffiliated voters, in comparison to four years ago, is one of the early remarkable aspects to this year's heated electoral contest in North Carolina.

For those interested, here are the 100 North Carolina counties with their percentages of current requested mail-in absentee ballots (as of 10-5-14) to their final 2010 accepted ballot numbers:

2014 % as of 10-5-14 of 2010's Totals
Party Registration:
Democratic Republican Unaffiliated TOTAL
State 51% 35% 56% 45%
ALAMANCE 74% 28% 60% 48%
ALEXANDER 10% 23% 35% 20%
ALLEGHANY 28% 77% 67% 47%
ANSON 21% 4% 17% 17%
ASHE 32% 44% 35% 37%
AVERY 13% 32% 61% 35%
BEAUFORT 59% 34% 53% 47%
BERTIE 38% 16% 30% 32%
BLADEN 122% 63% 264% 134%
BRUNSWICK 59% 40% 48% 46%
BUNCOMBE 68% 63% 83% 70%
BURKE 27% 34% 45% 32%
CABARRUS 35% 27% 47% 33%
CALDWELL 32% 19% 40% 27%
CAMDEN 19% 27% 13% 19%
CARTERET 64% 51% 90% 63%
CASWELL 25% 37% 27% 31%
CATAWBA 31% 33% 80% 40%
CHATHAM 92% 43% 73% 70%
CHEROKEE 34% 23% 31% 28%
CHOWAN 12% 27% 26% 21%
CLAY 22% 42% 32% 32%
CLEVELAND 33% 30% 64% 37%
COLUMBUS 11% 16% 14% 13%
CRAVEN 53% 44% 62% 51%
CUMBERLAND 56% 35% 58% 48%
CURRITUCK 21% 33% 17% 24%
DARE 35% 33% 61% 40%
DAVIDSON 46% 28% 40% 34%
DAVIE 22% 28% 40% 29%
DUPLIN 35% 30% 56% 36%
DURHAM 72% 61% 57% 65%
EDGECOMBE 23% 13% 33% 22%
FORSYTH 31% 33% 32% 32%
FRANKLIN 70% 26% 51% 44%
GASTON 37% 29% 35% 33%
GATES 11% 0% 20% 10%
GRAHAM 16% 23% 40% 23%
GRANVILLE 57% 44% 58% 52%
GREENE 268% 26% 31% 171%
GUILFORD 57% 39% 58% 48%
HALIFAX 60% 14% 56% 54%
HARNETT 36% 38% 52% 40%
HAYWOOD 61% 37% 45% 48%
HENDERSON 52% 31% 51% 40%
HERTFORD 33% 5% 50% 30%
HOKE 52% 27% 30% 35%
HYDE 0% 60% 56% 24%
IREDELL 22% 35% 49% 34%
JACKSON 54% 34% 44% 45%
JOHNSTON 61% 31% 73% 47%
JONES 17% 18% 14% 17%
LEE 27% 20% 45% 27%
LENOIR 90% 19% 90% 67%
LINCOLN 10% 29% 18% 19%
MACON 28% 42% 34% 37%
MADISON 34% 17% 64% 32%
MARTIN 10% 7% 31% 13%
MCDOWELL 15% 21% 52% 24%
MECKLENBURG 61% 46% 73% 56%
MITCHELL 38% 16% 10% 16%
MONTGOMERY 45% 36% 32% 39%
MOORE 50% 31% 50% 39%
NASH 50% 27% 43% 38%
NEW HANOVER 42% 22% 44% 32%
NORTHAMPTON 9% 17% 15% 11%
ONSLOW 108% 62% 79% 77%
ORANGE 73% 28% 74% 64%
PAMLICO 71% 33% 94% 58%
PASQUOTANK 37% 77% 43% 52%
PENDER 22% 28% 63% 31%
PERQUIMANS 17% 67% 36% 36%
PERSON 34% 33% 100% 44%
PITT 70% 20% 41% 50%
POLK 29% 29% 38% 31%
RANDOLPH 63% 35% 34% 39%
RICHMOND 17% 11% 14% 15%
ROBESON 77% 47% 815% 120%
ROCKINGHAM 25% 33% 38% 31%
ROWAN 64% 38% 56% 47%
RUTHERFORD 59% 28% 38% 39%
SAMPSON 15% 25% 24% 21%
SCOTLAND 38% 21% 7% 27%
STANLY 33% 22% 47% 30%
STOKES 15% 24% 17% 19%
SURRY 31% 35% 38% 34%
SWAIN 30% 48% 33% 34%
TRANSYLVANIA 60% 46% 70% 57%
TYRRELL 0% 100% 150% 29%
UNION 48% 34% 54% 40%
VANCE 19% 11% 42% 20%
WAKE 76% 35% 71% 55%
WARREN 45% 38% 130% 54%
WASHINGTON 17% 22% 38% 23%
WATAUGA 42% 28% 37% 36%
WAYNE 80% 50% 45% 60%
WILKES 19% 29% 20% 23%
WILSON 21% 26% 53% 26%
YADKIN 18% 38% 24% 30%
YANCEY 44% 34% 38% 39%

One month to go & NC's mail-in ballots should start hitting their stride

With four weeks to go, we should start to see the mail-in absentee ballots come rolling in with larger numbers as votes for the November 4 general election.

Over the weekend, the NC State Board of Elections released their data on requested and returned/accepted ballots. Among the 24,765 ballots sent out and the 4,697 ballots returned and accepted so far, the trend over the past two weeks have continued.

Requests from registered Democrats make up 41 percent of the 24,765, with registered Republicans at 35 percent and registered unaffiliated voters at 24 percent. At this point in 2010, Republicans were 47 percent, Democrats were 34 percent, and unaffiliated voters were 20 percent.

Among requested ballots:

  • female voters are 56 percent while men are 43 percent
  • white voters are 82.4 percent
  • black voters are 12.3 percent
Among the returned and accepted ballots (19 percent so far), we should start to see a consider increase in these numbers over this coming week, based on what we saw four years ago in 2010.

Among the returned and accepted ballots so far:

  • registered Democratic voters make up 45 percent
  • registered Republican voters make up 35 percent
  • registered unaffiliated voters make up 21 percent
  • female voters are 53 percent while male voters are 46 percent
  • white voters are 81 percent
  • black voters are 14 percent
It may seem that in this Republican-favored year that North Carolina is an exception in seeing Democratic surge in absentee balloting, but over the weekend, Adam Smith, Tampa Bay Times' political reporter, notes that Republicans are leading in absentee ballots in the Sunshine State, but that Democrats have significantly cut into the GOP's numbers in comparison to 2010's performance. 

With a month of campaigning to go until November 4, concerns may start to ramp up within GOP circles and the Republican's campaign on the performance of not just Thom Tillis, who is still behind (albeit within the M.O.E.) in the latest poll released over the weekend, but also the GOP ground game, as evident by the mail-in numbers for the past few weeks.  This week's debates on Tuesday and Thursday between Hagan and Tillis may be more important for the challenger to change the dynamics of a fairly consistent campaign.