Thursday, October 18, 2018

NC's First Day of "Early Voting" (Even Though We've Been Voting for a Few Weeks Now)

Wednesday, October 17th was the first day of what many refer to as North Carolina's 'early voting,' even though voters have been requesting and returning ballots for some time now through the mail.

The state's start of absentee onestop ballots, sometimes referred to as 'in-person early voting,' began with a significant run at the numbers. The following shows some comparative analysis for the beginning of a popular method of voters casting ballots. This data comes from the North Carolina State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement and can be found here.

First, a note on comparing this year's in-person 'early votes' to other mid-term election years: 2010 had a window of 17 days, while 2014 had a window of only 10 days. This year's window of 18 days will therefore be much different in the past, but the comparison may be helpful to show some trends.

The overall totals of NC's absentee ballots, both for mail and in-person:

Monday, October 15, 2018

Going into This Week's In-Person Absentee Voting & "T Minus 3 Weeks & Counting" Until Election Day 2018

As North Carolina gets ready to start casting absentee one-stop (that is, in-person no excuse absentee voting) and we hit the three weeks mark until Election Day 2018, here is where things stand with the state's absentee by mail ballots.

Total requested absentee mail ballots, through 10-14-18 (as of 10-15-18): 68,940

Total sent absentee mail ballots: 67,129 (97.3 percent of those requested)

Total returned and accepted absentee mail ballots: 10,279 (14.9 percent of those requested)

Here are the party registration data for requested, sent, and accepted mail ballots:

Saturday, October 13, 2018

NC Absentee Mail Ballots as of 10-13-18

For NC's mail absentee ballots, through Friday, Oct. 12 (posted as of 10-13-18):

So far, the number of requested absentee mail ballots stands at 65,949, with 64,715 sent (98.1% of requested), and 9,511 have been returned and accepted so far (14.4% of requested); by party registration for requested, sent, & accepted:

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

NC Mail Absentee Ballots as of 10-9-18

NC's mail absentee ballots, through Monday, Oct. 8 (data as of 10-9-18):

Requested: 48,623 Sent: 47,944 (98.6% of requested) Returned & Accepted: 4,850 (10% of requested) And by party registration for requested, sent, & accepted:

Thursday, October 4, 2018

NC's Mail Ballots as of 10-4-18

Updated with new analysis of voters who didn't vote in 2014 but have requested mail absentee ballots in 2018 (see below):

The latest numbers of North Carolina absentee by mail ballot requests, sent, and returned & accepted, along with various breakdowns/analyses by party registration, gender, region, and other aspects are below--these were tweeted out at @oldnorthstpol:

Requested as of 10-3-18 (reported 10-4-18): 35,209

Sent: 34,606 (98% of requested)

Returned and Accepted: 2,962 (8.4% of requested)

Sunday, September 30, 2018

NC's Mail Ballots as of 9-29-18

As of September 29, 2018, the North Carolina mail absentee ballots so far are:

Requested: 23,762
Sent: 23,364 (98 percent of requested)
Returned and Accepted: 1,444 (6.1 percent of requested)

And by party registration for all three categories:

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Did Hurricane Matthew Have An Impact on 2016 Elections?

I've gotten a couple of calls from reporters regarding the question, was there any impact from Hurricane Matthew, that hit North Carolina in mid-October of 2016, to help us understand what might be in the forecast for the impact by Hurricane Florence in this year's election?

First, a key difference between Matthew and Florence: Matthew hit in mid-October (the 10th), with FEMA designating the following counties:

Florence, hitting in mid-September, lead to the designation of these counties by FEMA so far:

Sunday, September 23, 2018

NC's Mail Ballots as of 9-22-18

With the end of the week, an update on where things stand regarding North Carolina's absentee by mail ballots, including requested, sent, and returned & accepted. I sent many of these charts out via Twitter @oldnorthstpol, but here are all the charts for 9-22-18 in one convenient spot for future reference:

The requested mail ballots, as of 9-22-18, total 17,225, with the following breakdown by party registration of the voter:

Thursday, September 20, 2018

9/20/18 Update on NC's Mail Ballots: Votes Are Coming In

As North Carolina surveys the damage and continues to dry out from the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, voters are requesting and casting ballots already for the November 6 general election in the Old North State. Here's a review of where the numbers stand regarding absentee by mail ballots, especially by requested, sent, and accepted ballots.

As of September 19th, the number of requested ballots has hit 15,704, with the following party registration breakdown:

Normally, in this method of voting, registered Republicans tend to dominate mail-in ballots, but even in the early trends, they are third with barely a quarter of the requested ballots so far.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

More Analysis of NC Mail-In Ballots as of 9-15-18 (Updated)

With another day of mail-in ballot data in from the NC State Board of Elections, a bit more of a trend line can be presented of the 12,541 requested mail ballots so far for this year's election. First, the comparison between 2014's and 2018's requests for mail ballots, by the days prior to Election Day:

Friday, September 14, 2018

Comparing 2018 to 2014 NC Mail In Ballots

With the beginning of mail-in ballots going out and being returned, I decided to compare 2014's mail-in ballot numbers, by party registration, to what we are starting to see in 2018's mid-term election.

First, looking at the requests by voters for mail-in ballots for 2014 and what 2018 is showing at 53 days out from Election Day:

North Carolinians Are Voting in the 2018 Mid-Term Election

Courtesy of the North Carolina State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement, the first batch of absentee-by-mail ballots are being sent out and some have returned and accepted as votes for the November 2018 election.

Usually every week I'll try to update these numbers (unless the demand is really out there for daily updates) and present the numbers of ballots requested and accepted by a couple of key indicators, namely party registration of the voter, generation, and congressional districts (as we are mostly focused on the congressional races in this blue moon election in the Old North State).

Now, let me say that generally mail-in ballots will be a fairly small percentage of the overall votes cast in the state; in 2014's mid-term election, only 2 percent of the ballots cast were by mail.

As of Friday, September 14 (which includes up to the previous day's numbers), 12,209 mail ballots had been sent out to voters, with 12 ballots accepted so far.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

It's Official: 7 Million Registered Voters in the Old North State

Well, to be exact: 7,005,862 registered active and inactive voters, according to the NCSBE as of September 8, 2018. While not much has changed among the various statistics that I generally follow and report on, I'll go ahead and repeat some and give some further observations as we enter the home stretch of the mid-term campaign season.

First, the partisan registration break down continues to see unaffiliated registration inch up:

Registered Democrats are 38 percent, while registered unaffiliated voters are 31.6 and registered Republicans are 29.9 percent; the other parties--Libertarian, Green, and Constitution--are less than one-half of one percent of the total pool of registered voters.

Racially, the electorate continues to diversify:

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Summer Ends, The General Campaign Begins, and a Look at NC's Voter Pool

With only 1,311 voters shy of 7 million, North Carolina begins the general campaign into the 2018 mid-term elections with a continued strong showing of younger voters and the rise of the unaffiliated registered voter.

As of September 1, 2018, the state's registered voter pool (active and inactive) breaks down as follows:

Monday, August 6, 2018

A Deeper Exploration of North Carolina's Urban/Suburban/Rural Voters

Much has been written about the "regional" divide in American politics, between urban, suburban, and rural areas of the nation and in the states. In a recent study by the Pew Research Center on what unites and divides these three regions, the partisan leanings of all three areas show that urban and rural areas have the greatest differences between the two (urban = more Democratic, while rural = more Republican), with suburbs being an almost even split between the partisans:
The political closeness of suburban areas in the nation has lead some to question whether Republicans can hold on to their majorities in this year's mid-term election, especially in the U.S. House. But while some believe that North Carolina has been trending more like the nation in recent elections, the regional differences are rather distinct to the Old North State than the United States.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

North Carolina "Party-Switchers" So Far In 2018

Included in the wealth of data provided by the NC State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement is a spreadsheet containing information on voters who have changed their party registration so far in 2018.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Where Is The Uproar Over Charlotte's #RNC2020 Bid Coming From?

With the pending decision by the Charlotte City Council on whether to formalize the bid for hosting the Republican National Committee's 2020 Presidential Nominating Convention causing a great deal of controversy in the Queen City, it might be good to step back and see the transition that Charlotte has undergone, and continues to do so, in its political behavior and how its politics, especially at the presidential level, is playing out.

First, a word about the methodology used for the below illustrative maps: for a while, I have adapted Charlie Cook's Partisan Voter Index, or PVI, to illustrate how precincts vote in comparison to the national performance of the presidential candidates. So, for example, if a presidential candidate received 52 percent of the national vote, and a precinct voted for that same candidate with 57 percent of the vote, that precinct would be a "+5" to that presidential candidate's party.

Thus, one can assign a "score" of plus whichever party in comparison to the party's national performance. For each presidential election since 2004, I have taken Mecklenburg County's precinct votes, compared them to each presidential performance, and then averaged the 2004-08, 2008-12, and 2012-16 results, with the following coding scheme:

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Half-Way Through 2018, NC's Voter Registration Creeps to 7M

Now that we're half-way through 2018, the North Carolina registered voter pool slowly creeps towards 7 million active and inactive voters. As of July 7, 2018, 6,962,898 voters were on the roll, an increase of nearly 125,000 since the beginning of the year.

Among the patterns of registration since the beginning of 2018, unaffiliated registrations have been the significant plurality, while Democratic registrations lead Republican registrations. At the end of the first six months of 2018, 45 percent of new voters registered as unaffiliated, with 30 percent Democratic and 24 percent Republican.

Of the 6.9 million voters, the overall party registration percentages breaks down to 38 percent registered Democrats, 31 percent registered unaffiliated, and 30 percent registered Republican. The other party registrations--Libertarian, Green, and the Constitution parties--are one percent of the total.

In looking at a variety of ways of breaking down the state's voter pool, I break it down by race, generational cohorts, gender, and region (urban, suburban, and rural counties), along with a focus on two congressional districts that may be in play in this year's mid-term election.

Monday, June 25, 2018

NC's Partisan Gerrymandering Kicked Back by SCOTUS to Reconsider "Standing"

This morning, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued an order vacating the decision by the Middle District of North Carolina regarding the district court's findings of partisan gerrymandering by the North Carolina General Assembly of the congressional district map (known as Rucho v. Common Cause), and remanding the case back to the Middle NC District Court to consider the decision by SCOTUS in the Wisconsin redistricting case of Gill v. Whitford, announced a few weeks ago. In Gill, SCOTUS vacated the lower's court's previous decision in finding an unconstitutional gerrymandering by the Wisconsin legislature, and asked for reconsideration of the "standing" of the plaintiffs in the case.

Monday, June 11, 2018

In Our Polarized Era, Are We More "Warm" or "Cold" Towards Our Presidential Candidates?

In preparing for a special topics class next year on "Polarization in American Politics," I'm working through a set of books this summer, beginning with James E. Campbell's "Polarized: Making Sense of American Politics." It is a well-written and easy read, both in-depth and broad in its questions and Campbell's answers about polarization in our politics, and fits nicely in my thinking about the course. I'll likely assigned it after the students read Morris Fiorina's "Culture War? The Myth of Polarized America" and Alan Abramowitz's "The Polarized Public: Why American Government is So Dysfunctional," which serve as the "polarized opposites" in the controversy over political polarization in America.

There are many testable and intriguing questions to further explore polarization from Campbell's book, but one that struck me was on page 210, where Campbell notes that in 2004's American National Election Studies survey, only 62 percent of voters who were "relatively cool" to their party's candidates turned out to vote, while those who were "hotly enthusiastic" about their party's candidates had a turnout rate of 86 percent. Campbell measured "cool" and "hot" via a "feeling thermometer" that ANES has asked in its various surveys of the American electorate. In asking respondents to the ANES studies, the interviewer would describe the thermometer, which goes from 0 for "cold" to 100 for "hot," in the following way:

"If you don't feel particularly warm or cold toward a person, then you should place (that person) in the middle of the thermometer, at the 50 degree mark. If you have a warm feeling toward (the person) or feel favorable toward (the person), you would give ... a score somewhere between 50 degrees and 100 degrees. On the other hand, if you don't feel very favorable toward a person--that is, if you don't care for (them) too much--then you would place (that person) somewhere between 0 degrees and 50 degrees." 

In his study, Campbell uses the ranges of below 59 as "cool" towards the individual and above 80 as being "hotly enthusiastic." But he only cites the 2004 ANES study for his evidence in regards to turnout. As I was reading this section, I thought about whether we would see any trends over time and, if so, what differences there were in the "coolness" or "hotness" by voters and partisan identifiers towards presidential candidates, using Campbell's coding for the feeling thermometers.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

North Carolina's Registered Voter Pool Nearly Reaches 7 Million

As of June 2, 2018, there was nearly 7 million registered voters in the Old North State, a one percent increase since the beginning of 2018.

The state's party registration percentages have held steady since the middle of February, when registered unaffiliated voters claimed the second largest voter registration block (31 percent) in the state, with registered Democrats still at the top (38 percent) and registered Republicans in third place (30 percent). The newest addition to the party registration is the Green Party, with a little over 200 voters so far registering with the new party. The U.S. Constitution Party will be the newest addition to the voter rolls, with their recent approval by the NC State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

What I Learned This Semester From Teaching Presidential Politics and State & Local Politics

Having taught two courses this semester, one on State and Local Politics and the other on Presidential Politics, I came to the end of the semester with some thoughts that may intersect between the two topics: one about presidential "cycles," another about the demographic changes going on in our nation and in the Old North State, and the political polarization that we continue to experience. Based on a recent guest lecture to a civic group in Charlotte that brought these thoughts together, I thought I would share these ideas.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

A Deeper Look into NC's 9th Democratic Primary: Was There Reverse Drop-Off in Some Counties?

Today's post-primary blog piece raised some interesting questions, especially regarding the differences between the highly-competitive and charged Republican primary between Robert Pittenger and Mark Harris and what turned out to be a lop-sided Democratic primary between Dan McCready and Christian Cano in the Old North State's 9th Congressional District.

As it turned out, the Democratic primary attracted 45,660 votes across the eight counties that make up the 9th Congressional District, while the GOP 9th's primary attracted 35,494 votes. Some might interpret this difference to a higher energy level on the Democratic side than on the Republican side in the 9th district.

Below is the map of the 9th and the counties in it:

Looking back at Tuesday's NC Primary Election

Some thoughts on Tuesday's primary election in the Old North State:

The 9th Congressional District Republican contest lived up to the belief that it would be another competitive rematch between incumbent Robert Pittenger and Rev. Mark Harris. In 2016, when Pittenger secured the nomination with a 134 vote win over second-place Harris, there was a viable third candidate, Johnson, whose base was in, and he subsequently won, Union County. This year's contest did have a third candidate, but one who only generated 1,862 total votes, so the match was definitely between Pittenger and Harris.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Early Votes Are In--Now It's Down to Election Day Voting in NC's Primary Contests

Now that we have the early votes cast in North Carolina's primary election, a "whopping" 4 percent of the 6.9 million registered voters decided to cast their ballots before today's election.

Among the accepted early ballots, either cast by mail or in-person, Democratic primary ballots were the majority of the state's primary electorate, 59 percent to the GOP primary ballot being chosen by 41 percent of the voters. As a reminder: registered partisan voters can only vote in their party's primary (registered Democrats in the Democratic primary, while Republican registered voters can vote in the GOP primary only), but registered unaffiliated voters can pick one or the other party primary to cast their ballot.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

With a Week to Go Until NC's Primary Election, Where Are The Voters?

With a week to go before the May 8th primary election in the Old North State, voter turnout in early voting has been, to use a political sciencey-term, lackluster (and that's being kind).

According to the May 2nd NC State Board of Elections and Ethic Enforcement statistics, a little over 2 percent of the state's voters have requested ballots: 187,000 out of the 6.9 million registered active and inactive voters based on almost three weeks of early voting. This really isn't surprising, though, due to the fact that there is no major state-wide primary contest driving folks to the polls (thus, the 'blue-moon' election cycle that North Carolina tends to have every twelve years, with no gubernatorial (elected in presidential years) and no U.S. Senate contests).

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Urban vs. Suburban vs. Rural: Where's the Battleground?

In a discussion on WFAE's Charlotte Talks, I joined both Jonathan Kappler of the NC Free Enterprise Foundation and Dante Chinni of the American Communities Project to discuss the idea that in this year's mid-term elections, suburbs could be the electoral battleground fields.

I've done a lot of data investigating and researching into North Carolina's "regionalism" of urban vs. suburban vs. rural counties, but wanted to get a clearer picture of the national landscape and how the Old North State might line up, or be misaligned, to national patterns, especially when it comes to presidential voting patterns.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Democrats Target NC General Assembly Seats--But How Big A "Wave" Might Be Needed in November?

This week, the North Carolina Democratic Party released a "target list" of General Assembly districts for the fall general election. And while much has been made about an impending "blue wave" that can benefit Democrats and put Republicans on defense, the measurements for estimating the size of the wave is, at best, any pundit's guess at this point in the mid-term cycle.

One aspect that could give some clues as to the potential size of a "blue wave" is a baseline relationship between President Trump's performance in a legislative district and how it corresponds to the performance of the Republican candidate in the same legislative district. If the mid-terms are a referendum on the president's popularity (or lack thereof), using presidential performance as the baseline for a legislative district could give a sense of what Democrats would need to overcome the Republican-leanings of a district.

As I noted in a previous post, the relationship between Trump's performance and a GOP candidate's performance is pretty strong in North Carolina--partly meaning that Old North State voters aren't the "split ticket voters" that they once were.

So, as an example, in the 2016 election, one could graph President Trump's vote performance within the 13 congressional districts against each GOP congressional candidate's performance to see how close a relationship the Trump district vote was to the congressional candidate's vote:

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

My View on Polarization in American Politics

On Wednesday, April 11, I will be a panelist at Charlotte Preparatory School's Parent Partnership Event on "Parenting in the Age of Political Divisiveness." In doing some work to gather my thoughts for this much needed conversation, I decided to review two key perspectives about this notion of polarization: whether it exists in a comprehensive level in our nation's politics, or whether it only exists at the elite level, and not in the broader political environment.

Friday, April 6, 2018

A Generational & Party Trend of New NC Voters in 2018

I spoke with a reporter today regarding the trend of younger voters and the expectation of how many new voters could come from younger Americans, and in particular, North Carolinians.

One estimate given was that 186,000 new young voters could register this year in the Old North State. Having completed a recent analysis of the latest NC voter registration data file, I decided to look at the new voters since the beginning of 2018 through the end of March by generation and party registration within the youngest voters' generations (Gen Z are 18-21 years old, while Millennials are 22 to 37 years old).

First, Generation Z voters since the beginning of the year:

Thinking about Voter Turnout & Data

In a recent McClatchy article on the challengers to U.S. Representative Alma Adams (D), who represents the 12th Congressional District based solely in Mecklenburg County, the issue of who represents a "generational change" agent has become a target to the congresswoman.

In the article, the reporter uses NC State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement age ranges to describe the voters in the 2017 general election for the City of Charlotte:

Sunday, April 1, 2018

April's Analysis of North Carolina Registered Voter Pool

While April 1 lands on a Sunday, the latest North Carolina State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement data, posted on Saturday, March 31, gives information about the 6.9 million registered voters in the state.

First, the state's political party registration among these voters breaks down as 38 percent registered Democrat, 31 percent registered unaffiliated, 30 percent registered Republican, 1 percent registered Libertarian, and 0.000004 percent (or, 3 voters) who have registered with the recently approved Green Party in the Old North State.

Among the five different generational cohorts, the party registration continues to demonstrate a trend among younger voters to opt to registered unaffiliated:

Friday, March 30, 2018

Another Aspect of NC's Shifting Politics: Natives vs. Non-Natives

I was interviewed, along with Dr. Rebecca Tippett, with the Carolina Population Center and director of Carolina Demography, about the recent news from the U.S. Census Bureau regarding North Carolina's population and the shifting dynamics from urban counties to suburban counties, as documented in this great map graphic from the Greensboro News & Record:

Courtesy of the Greensboro News & Record
Courtesy of the Greensboro News & Record

Much of the population change for the state has occurred due to migration into the state; per estimates by the Carolina Population Center, nearly half, or 43 percent, of the Old North State's population were born out of state.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Analysis of North Carolina Voters by Gender

With discussions of how women may be a deciding factor in the 2018 mid-term elections, and in concluding Women's History Month, I decided to do another deep data dive, this time into the gender differences within North Carolina's registered voter pool.

My research interests in the Old North State's politics tend to focus on how North Carolina's voter pool is experiencing two "tectonic" shifts: one based on generational cohorts (those voters under the age of 37, who constitute the Millennial and Generation Z cohorts, versus those voters over the age of 37, who make up Generation X, Baby Boomer, and Silent/Greatest generations), while the other shift is the urban/suburban/rural divide in the Old North State.  This analysis uses these two characteristics to divide the active and inactive registered voters, with a focus on gender.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Exploring the Youth Vote

With the impressive numbers of young people in the past weekend's #MarchForOurLives and the mobilization due to the Parkland shooting, much has been made about whether this is an awakening, like the #MeToo movement, of young people and how they will respond, especially if they register to vote when they turn 18 years old and then actually show up to cast ballots in November.

Much of the research about youth turnout at the ballot box notes that rates of voting among younger votes has been significantly lower than older voters. But with the apparent energy and potential mobilization effect, young voters could see a higher turnout rate this November, due to the apparent energy and potential mobilization effect, along with a significant disapproval of the president (and mid-term elections tend to be referendums on the president and his party).

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Is It Time for Republicans to Panic? The Winds Are Definitely Blowing...

The Democratic wave crashed into Pennsylvania's 18th congressional district, and Republicans have begun the appropriate stage in a mid-term election year that's moving against them: in a phrase, "batten down the hatches."

In a leaked e-mail from the NC State House GOP political director, the "predictions" were that if North Carolina experienced a similar wave as the one that occurred in Pennsylvania, Democrats would not only capture the lower chamber of the General Assembly, but have super-majority status. Needless to say, Democrats are making hay of the e-mail.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Deep Dive into the Demographic Dynamics of NC's Districts: Volume 3--NC's State House

With the previous posts on congressional and state senate districts, I looked at the voters within each district and utilized five categories to classify: percentage of party registration, racial and ethnicity, regionalism, generations, and gender. This post wraps up the series with a deep dive into the North Carolina State House districts, all 120. Needless to say, with that many districts, I'll be putting the numbers and the percentage tables at the end of the piece, with analysis to follow. The analysis is only based on the demographic numbers and percentages; candidate quality (incumbent, challenger, etc.) is not taken into account.

The current map, as has been challenged through several lawsuits, shows the following district lines, with Republicans controlling 76 seats out of the 120 in the chamber:

Monday, March 12, 2018

Deep Dive into the Demographic Dynamics of NC's Districts: Volume 2--NC's State Senate

In the previous post, I looked at the dynamics of voter registration within North Carolina's 13 congressional districts. This post begins a two-part review and analysis of the state's General Assembly districts, first with the 50 districts in the state senate. With much of the attention being paid to NC's congressional districts in this "blue-moon" election cycle, the state legislative races will command state-wide attention, with the Democrats attempting to at least break the Republican's super-majority numbers in both chambers.

The map of the most recently approved upper chamber districts:

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Exploring Evangelicals in 2016's Election: Partisanship Divided The Flock

I found this article on "A Quiet Exodus: Why Blacks Are Leaving White Evangelical Churches" to be an interesting exploration of the controversies surrounding evangelicalism in today's political environment.

In particular, Michael Emerson, co-author of "Divided by Faith", a study that explored the racial relations within the evangelical movement, said in the article:

"Everything we tried is not working. ... The election itself was the single most harmful event to the whole movement of (racial) reconciliation in at least the past 30 years,” he said. “It’s about to completely break apart.”
Much has been made about the support by most white evangelical voters to President Trump. In fact, one of the president's evangelical advisory board members said recently:

Friday, March 9, 2018

Deep Dive into the Demographic Dynamics of NC's Districts: Volume 1--Congressional

In a previous post, I noted that the dynamics that both Democrats and Republicans were going into with this year's mid-term elections would be based on both demographic, partisan, and regional aspects. This blog post dives deeper into the legislative districts, since the Old North State is experiencing is "once in a blue moon" election cycle with no marquee state-wide race, such as U.S. Senate or governor's contest (a reminder: NC governors are elected in presidential years, unlike many chief executives in the states).

In analyzing the congressional (this post) and state legislative districts (next post), I draw upon the March 3, 2018 data "download" from the NC State Board of Elections of the over 6.8 million active and inactive voters on the rolls. Using this information, I can draw out the various dynamics (party registration, race, age/generation, region, etc.) to analyze and see what trends are evident in the numbers of voters. Of course, these numbers will change/shift between now and November's general election, but this will set a baseline of sorts for future analysis of the voter pool.

First, looking at the state's congressional districts, which look like this (and may still change, thanks to a variety of lawsuits over the districts):

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Regional Bases and Dynamics of North Carolina's Political Parties

Over at Long Leaf Politics blog, Andrew Dunn took a look at where North Carolina Democrats were focusing their time for the upcoming mid-term elections: while Democrats hope that the suburbs would be battleground to break the Republican's supermajorities in the state's General Assembly, Andrew writes that "any scenario in which the Dems wield any real power statewide requires them to make inroads into rural North Carolina as well." 

In looking at the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections by the state's regional classification (as determined by the U.S. Office of Management & Budget for urban, suburban, and rural counties), while Democratic presidential candidates are strongest in urban counties (which represent 54 percent of the votes cast), the change from 2012 to 2016 showed a widening gap between the parties' presidential candidates in both suburban and rural counties:

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Generational Turnout in North Carolina

On Twitter, in a thread following the release of a new Pew Research Center analysis on the Millennial generation and the "generation gap" in American politics, I was asked about the turnout rates for that generation in comparison to older cohorts (Generation X, Baby Boomers, and Greatest/Silent generations). Having worked with data from the NC State Board of Elections, it's relatively easy to perform this analysis for the Old North State, based on elections since 2008.

In using voter registration files from the general election years and merging those records with data on voters who cast ballots in election years, the following analysis shows not just the turnout rates for each generation in an election year, but also each generation's composition within the voter registration pool and the actual electorate of voters casting ballots. The respective ages of each cohort in each election year are:

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Generational Partisanship (or Why Millennials May Not Save Us from Partisan Loyalty and Polarization)

As many may have realized by now (by reading some of my previous posts), I've become very interested in the generational dynamics underway in American politics, and particularly in North Carolina (through voter registration figures and analyses). But voter registration only tells part of the story--a companion aspect to our political environment is voting "behavior," especially about voters' party self-identification and supporting presidential candidates, when it can be a driving force of our partisanship and polarization.

In trying to better understand the partisanship and potential polarization coming from party identification in our nation, along with the generational dynamics that are happening (especially with the rising Millennial generation), I ran a series of analyses using survey data from the American National Elections Studies (ANES) to investigate the following questions:
  • Are Americans really moving into political independence with the "rise of the independent" or are we seeing another phenomenon, especially when it comes to voting behavior of these independents?
  • What have been the trends in recent presidential elections when it comes to partisan self-identification and presidential vote choices among the four generations in the American electorate?

Monday, February 5, 2018

Hear that? It's Millennials and Gen Zers Taking Over NC's Voter Pool

In my 2017 year-end analysis, I thought that voters under the age of 37--Millennials and Generation Z voters--would eventually become the largest voter bloc in North Carolina's voter registration pool, but I wasn't sure when that would happen.

Well, as of Monday, February 5, 2018, it happened.

As We Entering NC's "Blue-Moon" Mid-term Election, What Are The Trends In Registered Voter Turnout Come November?

With attention now turning to November's mid-term election, questions are being raised about voter turnout in the first "referendum" of the Trump Republican government. And while North Carolina won't have a major state-wide race (such as a U.S. Senate or gubernatorial contest) on its fall ballot, the prospects for Republicans holding their current 10-3 congressional advantage and their super-majorities within the general assembly are already surfacing.

In general, mid-term elections are considered "referendums" on the party in power, especially the party that controls the White House. With Republicans controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress (a nominal majority in the U.S. Senate, however, but lacking absolute control of the upper chamber due to the 60 vote cloture rule), the focus through 2018 will be on the GOP and whether voters seek to continue unified party government, or whether the "checks and balances" will come with Democrats claiming one, or perhaps both, congressional chambers.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Exploring Partisanship & Party Loyalty from 1952 to 2016

Much has been made about the role of partisanship in American politics: some call it "tribalism" in the sense that party loyalty drives most views and actions, especially when it comes to voting behavior at the presidential level. And while some believe that the "political independents" can save us (and point to rising numbers in polls that show "independents" are now the largest bloc of voters), the sense of party loyalty has been evident even among these 'faux' independents.

In looking at data from the American National Election Studies from 1952 to 2016, I wanted to get a better sense of how these trends--the perceived rise of independents, as well as the potential rise or decline of partisanship and party loyalty--has been recorded in presidential election years.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Another Significant Court Case Dealing with NC's Congressional Districts

Never underestimate that a major news story can break while you are cooking dinner--which is what happened this evening.

A federal three-judge district court panel for the Middle District of North Carolina issued a 190 page opinion striking down the 2016's congressional district maps drawn by state legislative Republicans. In the past, the factor that drew the court's ire was race, but this time, the judges took square aim at partisan gerrymandering and ruled the 10-3 GOP-favor maps unconstitutional. To summarize, this is a significant opinion that may likely determine how partisanship reigns, or doesn't, in the future of American politics. Here are the highlights of the opinion, based on a Tweet thread that I posted, and a little background:

Monday, January 8, 2018

Gallup Finds 42% are Politically "Independent" (But It's Not Really 42%)

It's time once again, when folks will point to today's Gallup Poll findings that in 2017, "42% of Americans, on average, identified as political independents, erasing the decline to 39% seen in the 2016 presidential election year." This will be heralded as the continued demise of political parties, when it comes to partisan identification, and calls will be brought forth for "see, it's time for a third party!"

Thursday, January 4, 2018

North Carolina's "Blue Moon" Election Cycle and Its Congressional Contests

With North Carolina entering its "blue moon" mid-term election cycle (meaning that, with the exception of a few judicial contests, no major state-wide race (for example, a U.S. Senate or gubernatorial contest) will be on the ballot this year in the Old North State), so the focus for Tar Heel political observers will generally be on the legislative districts, both congressional and state house and senate. For this analysis, I'll be focusing on the thirteen congressional districts in the state and their dynamics internally when it comes to voter registration at the beginning of 2018.

First, some general context for whenever we talk about mid-term elections and what we know from the past; and yes, I understand, very acutely, that some of the "rules" that we (political scientists and historians) know from the past have been either "bent" or "broken" when it comes to this current political environment. However, since we don't have anything else to rely upon when it comes to investigating and trying to understand this environment until the actual election, we need to stick with some of the basic principles that have shaped our politics, especially when focusing on mid-term elections.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Some deeper dives into NC's registered Millennial Voters

As a follow-up to the previous post, I thought about the division among race and gender when it comes to North Carolina's Millennial registered voters, and broke out the 2 million registered voters under the age of 35 as of the December 30, 2017 voter registration file, courtesy of the North Carolina Board of Elections.

First, the overall trend lines for registered Millennial and the first members of Generation Z since 1999 and their party registration:

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Investigating Millennials & Generation Z in North Carolina's Voter Pool

Based on yesterday's blog post, I decided to dig deeper into the Millennial (those born between 1981 and 1997) and the newest generation, Generation Z (those born in and after 1998), registered voter in North Carolina to see:

First, some broad national understanding of the Millennials and Generation Z: the Pew Research Center has an excellent series on research and analysis of these two generations. As someone who has watched these trends for some time, I believe these generations will have a tectonic shift on the country's (and thus the Old North State's) political environment and dynamics.

The following national data comes from the 2016 American National Election Study (ANES), which you can find the data and do your own number crunching via this webpage.

First, to give some context to the NC registration figures that I'll present below, I looked at the electorate breakdowns by generations within the 2016 ANES Data. For purposes of defining the generations (see above for Millennials and Generation Z, which I am combining for the remainder of the analysis, unless noted), Generation X cohort are those born between 1966 and 1980, Baby Boomers are those born between 1945 and 1965, and the Greatest/Silent generations were born before 1945.