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.

Of the 290,000 plus ballots cast and accepted as of May 7, 2018, nearly 173,000 were Democratic primary ballots, while the GOP primary garnered a little under 120,000 ballots. Among unaffiliated voters, 52 percent of them selected the GOP primary ballot, to 47 percent selecting the Democratic ballot.

As noted above, 80 percent of the Democratic primary ballots came from registered Democrats, while 69 percent of GOP primary ballots were cast by registered Republicans.

With no major state-wide race in the state for the primary, the action this "blue-moon" election cycle in the Old North State will be at the congressional and state legislative district levels. In looking at the congressional districts and the primary ballots:

The 1st and 9th congressional districts have the largest percentages of early ballots coming in; while there's no contested Democratic nomination for Congress (G.K. Butterfield's district), the 9th district has both a heavily competitive Republican and Democratic ballot contest for the nominations. Interestingly, the Democratic ballots had over 21,000 accepted early to the 11,000 plus accepted GOP ballots. It will be interesting to see the total difference between the two parties once tonight's totals are tallied.

Finally, all the talk of a "younger" voter enthusiasm hasn't played out when it comes to early voting in this year's NC primary:

Voters under the age of 37 years old (Millennials and Generation Z) were only 11 percent of the early votes cast, with Baby Boomers and older voters being 71 percent of the early votes.

Some of the key races that I'll be watching at the congressional level tonight are:

  • the Republican contest for the 9th congressional district between Pittenger & Harris, along with the Democrat's contest in the same congressional district between McCready & Cano;
  • the Democratic contest for the 13th congressional district to go against first-term GOP representative Ted Budd;
  • the Republican contest for the 3rd congressional district (nobody expects Walter Jones to go down to one of his party opponents, but it's always one that generates interest); and, 
  • the Republican contest for the 10th congressional district against Patrick McHenry (not suspecting that McHenry will be defeated, but what percentage of the vote does his five opponents pull).
Even with some heated contests at the local level around the Old North State, the likelihood is that we'll probably end up in the 15-"ish" percentage for voter turnout

While there will be some interesting local races going on as well in the Charlotte area (where I'll be serving as an election analyst for the evening at WCNC), here's one other prediction I do hope comes true: that the votes get counted early and winners declared before 11 PM. 

And another reminder: go vote!