By Michael Bitzer
North Carolina can claim another first, and that is the first state in the nation with ballots sent out and being returned and accepted for votes for this November 8th's general election.
As my colleagues Chris Cooper and Gerry Cohen (among others) are prone to do, we will cover the returns of absentee by mail (and beginning on Thursday, October 20th, the submissions of absentee onestop, or early in-person ballots) and looking at the trends and patterns emerging so far in the run-up to November 8.
Chris and I plan to post a weekly update here at the blog, usually on Wednesdays, but we'll also have analysis on our respective Twitter feeds, if you need your "data hit" on a daily basis rather than just weekly.
Now, a serious statement of caution: do not read into these numbers anything other than "these are who are showing up" to cast ballots. Trying to predict which candidate may/may not be ahead (the horse-race aspect to our elections) may be as futile as predicting the success of the Hail Mary App State-Troy game finale.
As political scientists who study North Carolina politics and especially voter and elections data, we can tell you the 'fool's errand' of thinking mail-in votes will give us any indication of the final tally: in 2020, the mail-in votes went 70 percent for Joe Biden, who lost the state ultimately by 1.3 percent.