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.
In today's release of data by the NC State Board of Elections, voters who were born since 1981 are now 32 percent of the 6.8 million registered voters in the Old North State, while another 31 percent of voters being Baby Boomers in the pool. Generation X, sandwiched between Boomers and Millennials/Z cohorts, are 27 percent, with the Greatest/Silent generation (74 years old and older) 10 percent of the pool.
Of the state's entire voter registration pool, 39 percent are registered Democrats, 31 percent are registered unaffiliated, and 30 percent are registered Republicans. Racially, the voter pool is 69 percent white, 22 percent black/African-American, and 9 percent all other races. But breaking down the pool into generational cohorts, trends develop within the registration numbers--first, by the raw numbers:
|North Carolina Registered Voters as of February 5, 2018 by Generation & Party Registration|
And by party registration percentages for each generation cohort:
|North Carolina Registered Voters as of February 5, 2018 by Generation & Party Registration Percentages|
Moving from the oldest voters (Greatest/Silent) to the youngest voters (Generation Z), there's a drop in both the partisan affiliation and corresponding rise in unaffiliated registration. Among Gen Z, 45 percent of the newest cohort entering into the state's voter pool are unaffiliated in their registration.
Breaking out the voter registration by racial categories, one sees the rise of this unaffiliated among younger voters. First, among non-Hispanic/Latino white voters in North Carolina:
|North Carolina Registered Voters as of 2-5-18: Non-Hispanic/Latino White Registered Voters by Generation and Party Registration Percentages|
While non-Hispanic white voters in the South are traditional Republicans, voters under 35 (Millennials and Gen Z) are markedly different from their older cohorts. Democratic registration is falling considerably among this group, with only 15 percent of Gen Z non-Hispanic whites affiliating with the Democratic Party. Nearly half--47 percent--of this youngest cohort are registering unaffiliated.
In looking at North Carolina Hispanic/Latino voters (a little over 177,000), their registration trends show a greater percentage to both Democrats and unaffiliated:
|North Carolina Registered Voters as of 2-5-18: Hispanic/Latino Registered Voters by Generation and Party Registration Percentages|
Among the youngest voters, Republican registration is only 13 percent for Millennial Hispanic/Latino voters and 10 percent for the same group.
Among black/African-American voters, we may be seeing a significant shift away from the civil rights generations allegiance to registering Democratic by younger black voters, while their voter behavior
is still very much Democratic:
|North Carolina Registered Voters as of 2-5-18: Black/African-American Registered Voters by Generation and Party Registration Percentages|
Finally, in looking at all other races within North Carolina's voter registration pool (Asian, Native American, other races, multi-racial, and unknown/undesignated):
|North Carolina Registered Voters as of 2-5-18: All Other Races Registered Voters by Generation and Party Registration Percentages|
Finally, to start the year, I looked at January's registrations, broken down by generation and party registration: 43 percent of new voters registered as unaffiliated.
|North Carolina Registered Voters as of 2-5-18: January Registration by Generation and Party Registration|
Well over half (55 percent) of the first month's registrations were from Millennials and Gen Zers, with significant pluralities of both generation cohorts registering unaffiliated.
With the plurality of North Carolina's registered voters now heralding from Millennials and Generation Z cohorts (and growing), a major shift in North Carolina politics continues--of course, the next big question is: will these younger voters show up in November? Only ten more months until we find out the answer to that question.