Tuesday, November 8, 2016

North Carolina on Election Day: Some Basic Information & Political Dynamics (in Charts, of course)

Well, it's finally, finally, FINALLY here.

Just to give a sense of what North Carolina has seen over the past few general elections in presidential election years (of course, by charts):

Here are the presidential election results for North Carolina:

Here are the 2008 and 2012 exit polls for the state.

Here is a chart documenting the North Carolina registered voter pool from 2002-2016:

Here are the registered voter pools and the electorates in general elections by the percentages of party registration in North Carolina:

Ideology of North Carolina (as expressed in exit polls), 1996 to 2012:

North Carolina general elections by voting method: absentee (early) ballots versus election day ballots cast, 2004-2012:

Here are the turnouts based on registered voter groups in North Carolina, first by race:

The turnouts based on registered voter groups in North Carolina, by party registration:

Next, the turnout rates of North Carolina registered voters by age (note: these age bands are determined by the NC State Board of Elections):

Next, the composition of North Carolina general election electorates by race:

The composition of North Carolina general election electorates by party registration:

The composition of the North Carolina general election electorates by age categories:

2012 presidential election margin of victories in the 100 North Carolina counties with 13 counties (marked in yellow) delivering 50 percent of the state's votes:

Many of North Carolina's counties are becoming very polarized. The NC counties by partisan competitiveness or 'landslide' in margins of victories:

And then the North Carolina vote totals in these competitive/landslide counties:

I'll be posting more charts and data about North Carolina as Election Day rolls on. I'll be an election analyst for WFAE, Charlotte's NPR Station, starting at 7 PM this evening. Thank you all for following this blog; it has been a tremendous ride. Michael

UDPATE: I ran this analysis back after the March 2016 presidential primary in North Carolina, and I think it speaks to the potential support for Donald Trump in this general election. I ran a number of different 'factors' against the county performance for Trump, and the most 'influential' factor was the county's percentage of college-degree holders:

Nearly 50 percent of Trump's 2016 NC county presidential primary support can be explained by the college's percentage of those who hold Bachelor's degrees or higher, and that is an inverse relationship (meaning, the lower the county's percentage of holding a Bachelor's degree, the higher Trump's support was).

UPDATE at 4:41 PM: above were some 'competitive/landslide' maps and data on North Carolina's 100 counties. In current state politics, the divide between urban and rural areas of the state has grown more pronounced, but suburban areas tend to be the most Republican areas in the state, based on total numbers cast for presidential candidates in 2012 in the three areas:

For Democrats, breaking into the spread in suburban North Carolina and making sure the urban areas return large numbers (and perhaps spread the difference out more) will be key to winning in the state.  With three-quarters of the votes come from urban & suburban counties, these will be the key areas to be watching tonight.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Further Analysis of NC's 2016 Absentee Voters: Their 2012 Voting Methods

I looked into North Carolina's voters who have cast accepted absentee ballots and paired with information as to whether they were registered in 2012 and, if so, their 2012 voting methods if they cast ballots four years ago.

In terms of the 2.8 million North Carolinians who cast accepted in-person absentee ballots and were able to match their 2012 registration status (whether they were registered before or after 2012) and, if they were registered, did they vote and what voting method (mail-in, in-person early absentee, on election day) did they use. 

For the overall state-wide numbers:


So, among the 2016 in-person early voters in NC, 57 percent of them used the same method, with another 2 percent voting early through mail-in ballots.

There was 19 percent of this year's in-person early voters who changed their voting method from waiting until election day 2012 and decided to cast an early in-person ballot this year, with another 22 percent having not voted in 2012 (but were registered) combined with those voters who registered after 2012's election. 

In response to a reporter's query, I broke these voters into their party registration (registered Democrat, registered Republican, and registered unaffiliated (and yes, there are Libertarians, but their numbers are small)) and ran the same analysis:

Among the partisans, we see that majorities of this year's registered Democrats and Republicans who voted early in-person used the same method in 2012. However, there is one noticeable difference: registered Republicans had 21 percent shift from voting on election day four years ago to casting in-person absentee ballots this year, while 17 percent of registered Democrats did the same thing (cast ballots on election day in 2012 but cast early in-person this year).  

Among this year's early unaffiliated voters, 19 percent (matching the state-wide percentage) voted on election day in 2012. So Republicans have drawn more of their voters into the early voting rather than voting on election day than did unaffiliated or Democrats this year. 

But another interesting dynamic is present among registered unaffiliated voters, who I consider the wild card in this year's election: nearly one-third (32 percent) of registered unaffiliated voters who have cast in-person absentee ballots this year were either registered in 2012 but didn't vote (6 percent) or registered after the 2012 election year (26 percent). These 'new voters' are higher than the same kind of partisan registered voters (registered Democrats at 18 percent combined while 20 percent of registered Republicans combined). 

So, among the 2.8 million early voters who cast accepted in-person absentee ballots, 238,430 registered unaffiliated voters, 224,445 registered Democrats, and 174,779 registered Republicans could be considered 'new' voters in this year's general election. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Differences in Absentee Ballots: 2012 vs. 2016 by Party Registration in North Carolina

With the dramatic increases in absentee ballots in North Carolina and preparing for the general election day, a question from a Twitter follower was, "what areas saw the most changes among absentee voters?"

Using information on accepted absentee ballots in both 2012 and this year (with some changes in the numbers still expected), I was able to run cross-tabs of the different party registration based on two key factors: region and race.

First, the Democrats saw a very slight drop in their absentee ballots (both mail-in and in-person) from 2012's totals. In looking at the cross-tabs by region (urban, suburban, and rural counties) by race, the following demonstrates the changes in the Democratic voter base among absentee voters:

Among white voters, Democrats overall saw a 5 percent increase in registered members of their party showing up to cast absentee ballots, but there were noticeable differences by region: rural white Democrats were slightly down, while urban and most notably suburban white Democrats were up over their numbers from four years ago.

The critical change from 2012, to the negative, is among black Democrats. Only among suburban black Democrats was there an increase from four years ago, while among urban and rural black Democrats, the drops were noticeable to have an overall drop of 8 percent from 2012's numbers. 

Among all other races, however, registered Democrats saw, at times, dramatic increases in their numbers from 2012's totals. And while some of the changes were due to what would appear to be small numerical changes (for example, Indian Americans went from 7,372 to 7,485), registered Asian Democrats went from 8,146 to 12,345, while those voters who classify themselves as 'other races' went from 17,220 to 24,677.

Overall, registered Democrats saw their greatest decline in their numbers from rural counties, down 10 percent (from 324,373 to 290,856) and contributing to the slight decrease in their overall numbers. Yet suburban Democrats, going from 200,445 to 215,107, showed the greatest increase. 

Among registered Republicans, the total numbers went up by 13 percent, but there were slight differences among the regions and racial categories. 

While white Republicans were up 12 percent, it was suburban white Republicans who were up the largest in their numbers (up 30 percent), while white urban Republicans were up on 4 percent. 

While the black Republican numbers seem dramatic, it was an overall difference between 10,949 in 2012 and 10,067 this year in terms of ballots being cast.

Again, the other races were among the consistent growth areas, but like with black Republicans, the numbers were fairly small: Asian Republicans from 3,624 to 4,865; Indian Americans from 1,937 to 2,776; and multi-racial Republican voters from 1,604 to 1,985. Among those voters who did not indicate a race on their voter registration form, the noticeable increases was from a total of 9,783 in 2012 to 17,029. Overall, like with registered Democrats, suburban registered Republicans saw the greatest overall regional increase, of 31 percent. 

Finally, the huge increase of registered unaffiliated voters is dramatic in comparison to their partisan counterparts. 

White registered unaffiliated voters saw an overall increase of 41 percent, but among suburban white registered unaffiliated voters, it was an increase of 57 percent. 

Among black unaffiliated voters, who are typically more from the Millennial generation, it was again suburban black unaffiliated voters showing the largest increase. 

Again, like the partisans, all other races saw huge increases among unaffiliated voters. Among Asian registered unaffiliated voters, their numbers in 2012 was 10,422; this year, there was 17,340. The other numerical large-scale increase was among 'other' races, which went from 12,850 four years ago to 20,670 this year. 

The accepted absentee ballots' electorate could be anywhere from 60 to 65 percent of the total electorate (ballots cast); in 2012, 61 percent of the ballots in that election came before Election Day (56 percent from in-person absentee ballots, with the remaining 5 percent from mail-in absentee ballots). If the overall electorate increases beyond 4.5 million ballots (as it was in 2012), then the Election Day electorate will be critical to watch as the absentee ballots may be on the lower end of the 60 percent range. 

Some Exploration of the True Wildcard in NC's Early Voting: Registered Unaffiliated Voters

With the near-final numbers posted in terms of North Carolina's absentee voting before Tuesday's election, the true wildcard seems to be the huge spike in registered unaffiliated voters who have cast a quarter of all the absentee ballots.

Their numbers are up over 40 percent from where they were in 2012 at the end of the early voting period, so I decided to look more closely at these voters who could potentially hold the balance for which party wins in North Carolina.

First, a general overview of the state's unaffiliated voters: where registered partisans (Democrats and Republicans) in North Carolina tend to be older, registered unaffiliated voters skew younger, due to the growing influence of Millennial voters; nearly 40 percent of registered Millennials are unaffiliated.

We see this influence of younger voters in breaking down each party registration category. Voters under the age of 51 are a majority (55 percent) of the registered unaffiliated voters who have cast accepted absentee ballots so far in this year's election in North Carolina.

One of the key dynamics going on in North Carolina's voter pool is the fact that most Millennial voters (who are the second largest generation cohort in the state's voter pool) live in urban counties; these urban areas also dominate the state's politics and voter pool as well.

With urban counties making up 54 percent of the state's voter pool, and Millennials at 30 percent of the voter pool, this combination is shifting the dynamics of the state.

I next isolated all of the state's registered Millennial voters and looked at their location and party registration.

With 61 percent of Millennials living in urban counties, they tend to split between registering as Democrats and unaffiliated, with 20 percent registering as Republicans.  In the other areas, registered Millennials in North Carolina tend to be much more unaffiliated than partisan. 

So, this gives us a sense of Millennials and their influence in North Carolina politics.

Now, we turn back to the unaffiliated absentee voters who may be the key to this year's election in North Carolina. 

One crude 'proxy' that might get at how these unaffiliated voters are potentially casting their ballots for the general election would be if these unaffiliated voters cast ballots in the March 2016 primary in North Carolina.

For unaffiliated voters, they have to pick a party to cast a ballot in for the primary election, and we can match their March 2016 voting records of which ballot they requested with their current status. Granted, this 'proxy' may not necessarily capture all aspects of the dynamics of a voter, simply due to the partisan nature of many North Carolina counties. To have any influence in a county's politics, especially if you are in the minority party, you may have to be a registered unaffiliated voter and cast your primary vote in the party opposite your true partisanship, and then return home in the general election. Or perhaps a registered unaffiliated voted in a party's primary to vote against a particular candidate; again, this proxy may not be the best one out there, other than asking "for whom did you cast your general election ballot for?"

With those caveats said, among the 807,000 unaffiliated voters who have cast accepted absentee ballots so far, the overall composition of this group by generation and region point to a distinct slant:

Among the early unaffiliated voters, 38 percent are urban Millennials and Generation Xers (under the age of 51), with another 19 percent being urban Baby Boomers. North Carolina's urban areas have been trending more and more Democratic in nature, as evidence by Obama receiving 56 percent of the urban county presidential vote in 2012. 

We also know that Millennials tend to be more Democratic-leaning in their partisan affiliation

In using the 'proxy' of voting in North Carolina's March primary, the thinking is that we could see a sense of where unaffiliated voters may 'see' themselves as partisans. 

Of the 807,000 unaffiliated voters who have cast accepted absentee ballots so far for the November election, 44 percent (348,000) cast ballots in one of the two major parties' primaries in March of 2016. 

Of that 348,000 primary voters, 56 percent cast ballots in the Republican primary, while 44 percent cast them in the Democratic primary.

So, one would think that NC's unaffiliated voters are perhaps more leaners to the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. 

But in looking at these possible lean-unaffiliated voters, a plurality (47 percent) of the GOP-primary voters and 67 percent of the Democratic-primary voters in March were urban county voters.  In total, of the 348,000 March primary voters, 56 percent of them were urban county voters. 

Among those urban county unaffiliated voters, Millennials and Generation Xers made up 50 percent of the ballots being cast in the two parties. And of those two generations, which party did they cast their ballots in the primary?

So in urban counties, which have dominate the November accepted absentee vote totals so far with 55 percent of the accepted ballots cast, urban unaffiliated voters who are under the age of 51 and who cast ballots in the March primary election did so towards the Democratic primary (63 percent) over the Republican primary (37 percent). 

Granted, half of the urban county unaffiliated voters who voted in March split between those over and under the age of 51, but making a claim that a majority of unaffiliated voters are more Republican-leaning than Democratic may be masked by the voter's location and a more detailed analysis of which party they participated in for the March primary.

Ultimately, this may be an exercise in probability, simply because of the 807,000 unaffiliated voters who have cast accepted absentee ballots for Tuesday, the majority--57 percent--of them didn't participate in the March primary and we have no idea of how they may lean in their partisan affiliation. And of these non-March primary voters, over one-third of them (36%) are Millennial voters.

Based on the possible different interpretations of the above data, we should probably continue with the belief that this pool of 800,000 unaffiliated voters, along with another chunk of unaffiliated voters on Tuesday, will tip the balance of partisan power one way or the other in North Carolina. There's just too much uncertainty about this influential and unknown group of voters to make a call one way or the other, but different ways of looking at them can produce potential benefits or disadvantages to one party or the other. 

NC's Early Voting Is In the Books, with a Record Number of Ballots

With Saturday's close to in-person absentee voting, and the last trickle of mail-in absentee ballots, North Carolina has set a new record in early voting: over 3 million ballots banked for this year's general election on Tuesday.

A few more ballots will come in over the next few days, especially by mail-in method, so we will need to track those over time.

In comparison to 2012's same day totals two days before the election, 2016's total ballots are 12.2 percent ahead of where they were four years ago. Among all of the absentee ballots, 42 percent have come from registered Democrats, 32 percent from registered Republicans, and 26 percent from registered unaffiliated voters.

And while registered Democrats saw their total ballots slip from their same-day totals in 2012 (down 1.5 percent by sent date), registered Republicans are 13.4 percent ahead of their same day totals from 2012 while the big news continues to be the surge in registered unaffiliated voters casting ballots: they finished 41.2 percent ahead of their same day cumulative totals from 2012.

In reviewing the race of voters who have submitted absentee ballots, 71 percent have come from white voters, an increase of 18 percent over their same day totals from 2012, while 22 percent have come from black voters, a decrease of 9 percent from their same day totals from four years ago, and 'all other races' (including Asian, Indian American, multi-racial, and other races) are at 7 percent, with an increase of 51 percent over their 2012 same-day totals.

Ultimately, ballots from black voters are down 69,353, with some still coming in over the next few days. This deficit from black voters was at 26 percent down at one point in the early voting cycle.

Men have finally cut 'somewhat' into the percentage disparity between the sexes: 55 percent of the total absentee ballots are from women, down from their high point of 57 percent.

Among female voters, 46 percent came from registered Democrats (down slightly in their overall percentages), 30 percent from registered Republicans, and 24 percent from registered unaffiliated voters. Among male voters, 36 percent were from Democrats, 35 percent from Republicans, and 28 percent from unaffiliated voters.

Out of these 3.1 million mail-in and in-person absentee ballots cast, slightly over 3 million have been accepted as votes for Tuesday's election:

Accepted Absentee Ballots:

Among the 3,098,544 accepted mail-in and in-person ballots, the party registration break down is:

Among the racial composition of these accepted absentee ballots (both mail-in and in-person):

With the vast bulk (95 percent) of accepted absentee ballots are done by in-person, the analysis now shifts to looking at this critical block of votes accepted for Tuesday's election.

Accepted In-Person Absentee Ballots:

Of the 3 million accepted absentee ballots, 2.9 of them are from in-person, with 42 percent from registered Democrats, 31 percent from registered Republicans, and 26 percent from registered unaffiliated voters.

In comparison to their same day totals in 2012, accepted in-person ballots are ahead 15 percent, up more than 376,000 ballots from four years ago:

Among the party registration of accepted in-person absentee ballots and their comparison to 2012:

Registered Democrats are slightly behind their 2012 total numbers so far (down 1 percent, or nearly 17,500 ballots), registered Republicans are up 20 percent in accepted in-person ballots (more than 156,000 ballots), and registered unaffiliated voters, which are indeed the true wild-card this year, are up 44 percent in their accepted in-person absentee ballots, with over 234,000 more ballots than they cast at the end of 2012's early voting period.

The daily percentages for the second week of early voting in North Carolina:

The racial composition of accepted in-person absentee ballots in North Carolina shows 70 percent of the total ballots coming from white voters, but among the party registrations, a tale of different voting groups:

The daily percentages showed that more minority voters showed up yesterday than they have been, but below their daily percentage from four years ago:

Moving on to the analysis of how accepted in-person ballot voters cast their ballots from four years ago:

Based on the above information, we are definitely seeing a shift in how voters who participated four years ago are participating this year, with 19 percent of 2012 'on Election Day' voters casting early ballots this year, with 5 percent not having voted in 2012 but voting this year, and 17 percent being 'new voters' to early voting (having registered after 2012's election).  I'll try to do some further analysis by party registration within this group of voters later today.

The great question, along with the surge of unaffiliated voters, is ultimately what will the 2016 electorate size be like: under or over the 4.5 million ballots cast in 2012?  We will have to wait until Tuesday evening to start seeing the vote totals come in.

Next, the analysis of different factors, namely the region of the state (urban, suburban, and rural counties), whether the voter is a native to the state or born outside of the state, and then the generational cohort that they belong to; first, the region of the state continues to show a strong domination by urban voters, with their party registration figures:

It is likely that one-half of the ballots this year will come from 12 out of 100 counties, and those are urban areas. More than three-quarters of all the accepted in-person ballots have come from urban and suburban counties.

Next, by native vs. those voters not-born in North Carolina:

Non-native born voters continue their majority of the accepted in-person absentee ballots being sent in.

Finally, an interesting development has occurred among the generational cohorts:

Millennials are now 20 percent of the accepted in-person ballots, having made up considerable ground in their overall percentages. Baby Boomers have dropped to 41 percent from a high of 46 percent, with Silent/Greatest generation also slipping in their composition of final accepted in-person absentee ballots. More analysis on this will come later as well.

Turnout Rates For Accepted Absentee Ballots:

With over 3 million registered voters having cast accepted absentee ballots out of a potential 6.8 million registered voters, I began to calculate the 'turnout' rate so far using just these accepted absentee ballots against the registered voter block.

First, the overall turnout rate so far is 45 percent among the accepted absentee ballots compared to the total registered voter pool, with the following turnout rates for racial categories and party registration:

From yesterday's turnout percentages, white voters have taken back a slight lead in their turnout rate compared to black voter's turnout rate. Also notable and is usually "par-for-the-course" in North Carolina, more registered partisans turn out in comparison to unaffiliated voters.

Next, the gender, region, native vs. non-native, and generation cohorts and their registered voter turnout rates so far:

Not surprising, female voters are enjoying a higher registered voter turnout rate than male voters, while NC natives are slightly ahead compared to non-native voters. Within the regional analysis, both urban and suburban turnout rates are equal, with rural turnout rate lower. And while over half of the Baby Boomers and Silent/Greatest generation voters have cast accepted absentee ballots so far, Millennials and Generation X voters are seeing their turnout rate increase over the last few days of early voting. It will be important to watch these rates and types of voters showing up on Tuesday.

Updated for Mail-In Absentee Ballots:

I've finally run the numbers on the mail-in absentee ballots, which are lagging behind 2012's numbers:

Right now, accepted mail-in ballots are only 81 percent of where they were on this day in 2012.

Registered Republicans are leading among this voting method, with 41 percent of the accepted mail-in ballots so far; registered Democrats are 32 percent, and registered unaffiliated voters are 27 percent.

However, in comparison to their 2012 numbers, registered Republicans are 34,000 ballots behind their same day numbers, or 65 percent of where they were four years ago.

Registered Democrast are 4,300 ballots behind, or only 92 percent of their 2012 same day totals, while registered unaffiliated voters are ahead by 2,800 ballots, or at 107 percent of their same day 2012 numbers.

Of the nearly 58,000 outstanding ballots so far, the party registration breaks down as:

I'll be doing some more analysis later in the day after a quick break, but I did want to express my thanks to everyone who has been reading this blog. It has been overwhelming that over 5,000 page hits per day have occurred over the past two weeks, and I'm appreciative of the interest that folks have generated in this. Thank you, and GO VOTE.